Friday, August 27, 2010

Step-by-Step Recipe: Stuffed Zucchini and Bell Peppers

For my first official recipe post, I wanted to make sure I made a recipe I was familiar with, so I didn't end up posting something inedible or unappetizing.  Some might consider that cheating on a food blog.  But I figure it's just smart.

So last night I made Giada's Stuffed Zucchini and Bell Peppers.  I made just a few alterations to the recipe, so the recipe listed in my blog reflects those.  If you want to make Giada's 5-star version, go to the link above.  The items I altered are starred below.  Notes: normally I use fresh parsley from my garden whenever I can, but mine hasn't done so well this summer, so I haven't even had a single harvest.  As for the peppers, I just bought the "traffic light" set from the grocery store, hence green rather than orange. As for the marinara, I usually use jarred, since I always have some on hand.  But this time I used the leftover sauce from Pioneer Woman's chicken parmigiana, which I made recently.  Lastly, the Giada recipe calls for just one large 13 by 9 baking dish, but I find that everyone won't fit without squishing it all together, so I just use my rectangular and my square baking dishes and it's all fine.

I'll do the step-by-step (with pictures!) first, then list the complete recipe at the end, so you can copy and paste if you're interested in trying it out.  So first things first, the mise-en-place.  This is a snobby French term for laying all the ingredients out so you're not still chopping when you should be stirring.  This is not completely done, obviously, as the onion isn't grated yet, and the peppers aren't prepped.  As PW would say: Don't be like me.

After oiling the baking dishes (not shown), whisk together the next 7 ingredients in a medium to large bowl.

Add the turkey and mix it all up.  You could use a spoon, but my mother raised me to mix ground meat like this by hand.  So I did.  Then I remembered it was poultry, not beef, and washed my hands about a hundred times with antibacterial soap.

Next I hollowed out the zucchini using my melon baller.  As I do not have a third arm, I could not actually photograph that.  Use your imagination.

Look at all the pretty zucchinis.  If you don't have a melon baller, you can use a teaspoon to do this, which is how I used to do it.  The melon baller is considerably faster, though.

Then prep the peppers--cut out the stems, then halve them and pull out the seeds and trim away any pith.

Repeat for all of the peppers.  Then admire your handiwork.

Time to stuff the peppers!  Don't overstuff them or you'll run out of filling before you get to the zukes.  Anyone else notice how I just had to put the peppers in the dish in color order?  It's a sickness to be this anal retentive, I tell you.

Then stuff the zukes.  They won't take much, but that's not the point.

Then spoon the marinara sauce evenly over all the vegetables.  I forgot to photograph this step.  Sorry--I was really hungry by this point.  I blame low blood sugar.

Then put everything in the oven (which is, of course preheated to 400 degrees).  And then 45 minutes later...

Deliciousness.  Don't ask what the stuff that oozed out of the veggies is--I didn't eat it.  Serve with a little extra Parmesan if you're like me and you can't stop yourself.

I made this by itself since I was making it so late at night (typical at our house--I like to pretend we're European), but some basic Parmesan noodles or similar would go nicely on the side.  But I like anything with pasta--others would probably suggest something healthier. Enjoy!

Turkey-Stuffed Zucchini and Bell Peppers, based on Giada's recipe and altered by Julie
Time: approximately 65-75 minutes.  Serves: 6.

  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 small onion, grated
  • 2 Tbsp. dried parsley leaves*
  • 1 large egg
  • 3 tablespoons ketchup
  • 3 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 1/3 cup grated Parmesan*
  • 1/4 cup dried Italian bread crumbs*
  • 1 pound ground turkey, preferably dark meat
  • 2 zucchini, ends removed, halved lengthwise and crosswise
  • 1 short green bell pepper, halved and seeded*
  • 1 short red bell pepper, halved and seeded
  • 1 short yellow bell pepper, halved and seeded
  • 1 1/2 cups marinara sauce* 

  1. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F.
  2. Lightly drizzle the olive oil into a 13 by 9 by 2-inch baking dish and an 8 by 8 square baking dish.*
  3. Whisk the onion, parsley, egg, ketchup, garlic, salt, and pepper in a large bowl to blend. Stir in the cheese and bread crumbs. Mix in the turkey. Cover and refrigerate the turkey mixture.
  4. Using a melon baller or spoon, carefully scrape out the seeds and inner flesh from the zucchini, leaving 1/8-inch-thick shells. Be careful not to pierce through the skin. 
  5. Fill the zucchini and pepper halves with the turkey mixture, dividing equally and mounding slightly. Arrange the stuffed vegetables in the baking dishes.
  6. Spoon the marinara sauce over the stuffed vegetables.
  7. Bake uncovered until the vegetables are tender and beginning to brown and a thermometer inserted into the filling registers 165 degrees F, about 45 minutes. 
  8. Let cool slightly. Transfer the stuffed vegetables to a platter and serve.


  1. 1. I love Pioneer Woman! 2. I always like Giada's recipes, but her over-enunciation is so flipping annoying that I avoid her show. However, I will happily use your blog as a guide to making her (and anyone else's) food! Woo!

  2. I rarely watch Giada on TV, either. She is simultaneously adorable and annoying as all get-out, which depending on my mood can be a bad combo. I got this recipe off of the Food Network website when I was browsing there one day for 5-star recipes.

    And in case I didn't say it, this is a great recipe. Stuffed peppers doesn't sound that exciting, but this tastes so much better than you think it will!

  3. Love your peppers in color order, honey. And, of course, the mere fact that you got me to eat zucchini is a small victory in and of itself. But in the meantime, I'll just work on getting more into the red pepper! (I do like the orange pepper...) -Z