It’s the season again for those nice little round zucchinis. They are fantastic, you just need to fill them up with any kind of fillings and set them on top of rice, quinoa or in this case pasta. Who doesn’t like a good “ratatouille style” pasta sauce? The format is different but the idea is the same, and the only difference is… I made a thick béchamel on top and passed it under the grill, to make it extra smooth. Instead of béchamel on top, you can add in some nice fresh mozzarella in the last minutes of cooking, or add nothing at all.
I did a tomato sauce, plain and simple with onion, garlic and tomatoes. As usual, at the end I added a finishing touch of “picada” made of parsley, garlic and olive oil. Of course, you could add a good meat sauce, or seafood chowder style…
On Sundays in Spain (where I live) everything is closed, except for vegetable markets. So, if you don’t think ahead of time to buy meat, then you end up with only vegetables in your plate. So for us, Sunday is vegetarian recipes at home.
Here’s how to make those flavourful little bombs.
Zucchinis filled with tomato sauce
4 portions (take around 1h30 to do)
- 4 round zucchinis
- 250g pasta, or rice
- white pepper, salt
- 1bs extra-virgin olive oil
- 13 peeled tomatoes
- 3 onions small cubes
- 3 garlic cloves
- laurel leaf, thyme, salt, pepper
- 1 tbsp of butter
- 1 tbsp flour
- 1 cup of milk
- 2 tbsp of gruyere, old cheddar cheese
- nutmeg, white pepper, salt
Step one | The tomato sauce
- Cut onion in small cubes and soften in olive oil at low temperature until translucent, not brown. (15 min)
- Peel the tomatoes, cut in cubes (your favorite way)
- Add garlic to onion a few minutes before the tomatoes.
- Add tomatoes and spices and simmer until the sauce gets a good consistency, about 30 minutes.
- In the last 2 minutes of cooking, add the picada (garlic, olive oil, flat-leaved parsley)
Step two | Preparation of the zucchinis
*Bring oven to 180°C (350F)
- Wash and cut off the top, then empty out the inside with a small spoon.
- Spray a little olive oil on them, then sprinkle on salt and pepper.
- Add the tomato sauce
- Put them in the oven at 180°C (350F), with the cut-off tops upside down, for 20 minutes.
*During that time make the béchamel and cook the pasta.
Step three | The béchamel
- In a really small pan, melt the butter.
- Add the flour and cook medium heat until it smells nutty, (approx. 1 minute)
- Add the cold milk, nutmeg, salt and white pepper and bring to a slow boil. Keep mixing until it gets nice, thick consistency.
- Add cheese, mix well
Step four | The grand finale
- Take the zucchinis out of the oven, then add the béchamel on top.
- Grill them in the oven, and keep checking on them up until light brown top. (Top heat grill: approx. 3 minutes)
- Add your cooked pasta or rice to a plate with a drizzle of olive oil, salt and pepper.
- Serve with the tomato sauce filled zucchinis.
*Mix the rest of the béchamel and tomato sauce for later… Great smooth sauce it makes!