Barchette di Zucchine Ripiene di Gamberi

Zucchini Boats Stuffed with Shrimp

Zucchini is the most talented vegetable. It can do nearly everything any other vegetable can do, often better, and besides it can turn into the most delectable container for a variety of stuffings: meat, rice, even other vegetables. I have found, through experimentation, that it has an elegant affinity for shellfish, compensating with its spry flavor for the slightly cloying touch of sweetness that characterizes the flesh of shrimp and lobster.

You’ll find here that the zucchini are hollowed out, blanched, and split in two to resemble toy boats. The stuffing is chopped raw shrimp seasoned with garlic, olive oil, and parsley. It is all popped into the oven and in just minutes it is done, a grand little dish requiring only moderate effort and no particular skills.

Ingredients

  • 2 pounds small to medium young zucchini
  • 1 pound shrimp, in their shells
  • ½ cup toasted, unflavored bread crumbs
  • 1 teaspoon garlic chopped very fine
  • 2 tablespoons chopped parsley
  • cup extra virgin olive oil
  • Salt
  • Black pepper in a grinder
  • 1 large egg

Method

  1. Soak the zucchini in cold water for 20 minutes. Drain and rinse well under cold running water, rubbing off any residue of soil from the skin with your hands. If you find there is still some soil embedded in the skin, peel the outer layer of skin lightly.
  2. Drop the zucchini into boiling salted water. The moment the water returns to a boil, drain the zucchini, removing them gently from the pot with a large slotted spoon or spatula. Set aside to cool completely.
  3. Trim the ends off and with a corer, or other narrow-bladed tool, scoop out the insides, taking care not to puncture the skin. Leave a wall about ¼ inch thick.
  4. Turn on the oven to 450°.
  5. Rinse the shrimp in cold water, shell them, and remove the dark vein from each. Chop them into pieces not bigger than a large pea.
  6. Put the chopped shrimp in a bowl together with ¼ cup of the bread crumbs, the garlic, parsley, 2 tablespoons of the olive oil, salt, and grindings of pepper.
  7. Separate the egg, set aside the white, and add the yolk to the bowl. Mix all the ingredients thoroughly.
  8. Cut the zucchini in half lengthwise.
  9. Choose a shallow baking pan that can accommodate all the zucchini in a single layer. Grease the bottom of the pan lightly with olive oil and place the zucchini on it cut side up. Sprinkle them lightly with salt.
  10. Beat the egg white lightly and brush the insides of the zucchini with it.
  11. Stuff the zucchini with the shrimp mixture, heaping them full enough, if possible, to form a slight mound.
  12. Sprinkle the top of each boat with the remaining bread crumbs and pour the remaining olive oil over in a thin stream.
  13. Place the boats in the uppermost level of the oven for 6 to 7 minutes, until the tops form a light, pale gold crust. Serve when lukewarm.

Serving Suggestions

It takes the place of a first course in a fish dinner or, in a more elaborate meal, it can precede the first course. It is also an ideal buffet dish and, for a light lunch, it can serve as the principal course.

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