Stuffed Zucchini

Crop Squash Summer

1 extra large zucchini
3/4 lb ground beef*
1 small onion, chopped
1 green or red pepper, chopped
1 cup fresh tomatoes, chopped (or canned stewed tomatoes)
1 clove garlic, minced
1 1/2 tsp fresh oregano, chopped (or 1/2 tsp dried)
1/2 tsp ground cumin
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp cayenne pepper
1/4 cup bread crumbs
1/2 cup Monterey Jack or Mozarella cheese, grated

Cut zucchini lengthwise, scoop out the seeds, and discard. Carefully cut away (and reserve) flesh to form two shells, about 1/2 inch (1cm) thick.

Cook meat with onions and pepper in a large frying pan until meat is browned. Drain off fat.

Add tomatoes, chopped zucchini flesh, garlic, herbs, salt and pepper. Bring to a boil and cook 5 minutes.

Remove from heat and add bread crumbs and 1/4 of the cheese. Mix well. Place the zucchini shells in a baking dish and fill with the meat mixture. Bake in a preheated oven at 350F for 30-35 minutes.

Sprinkle with the remaining 1/4 cup of cheese, return to the oven and bake until cheese begins to brown (approx. 12-15 minutes). Let stand 5 minutes before serving.

*For a vegetarian version, substitute a mixture of sautéed mushrooms and cooked rice for the beef.