Braised Stuffed Zucchini

Five Large Zucchini Rinsed With The Ends Removed 

A Pound Of 85% Ground Beef

Two Minced Garlic Cloves

1/2 Cup Of Diced Red Onion

A 28 Ounce Can Of San Marzano Tomatoes

1 1/2 Cup Of Panko Bread Crumbs

Two Teaspoons Of Fresh Thyme

Two Tablespoons Of Chopped Fresh Italian Parsley

Two Tablespoons Of Chopped Fresh Basil

1/3 Cup Of Dry White Wine

3 3/4 Teaspoons Of Sea Salt

1/4 Teaspoon Of Ground Black Pepper

1/4 Teaspoon Of Crushed Red Pepper Flakes

1/2 Cup Of Grated Pecorino Romano Cheese

Cut the zucchini in half lengthwise. Using a melon baller or a spoon, scrape out the seeds and the inner flesh from the zucchini, leaving 1/4 inch shells. Do not pierce the skin. Chop the scaped out flesh into about 3/4 inch pieces and set aside. Lightly sprinkle the insides of the shells with sea salt.   

Hand crush the San Marzano tomatoes in a large bowl and set aside.

Into a 12-14 inch skillet, add the ground beef, two teaspoons of sea salt, the black pepper, and the crushed red pepper flakes. Cook on medium high heat while breaking the ground beef into small pieces with a spatula. Cook the ground beef until browned. Add the red onion, the scaped out zucchini flesh, the garlic, the fresh thyme, half of the tomatoes, half of the basil, and half of the parsley. Continue to cook on medium high heat while stirring frequently for 5 minutes. Taste and add more sea salt and /or pepper, if desired. Turn off the heat and add the bread crumbs. Stir the mixture thoroughly. The bread crumbs will cause the mixture to thicken. A soupy,  paste-like consistency should be achieved. Add a little more bread crumbs, if necessary.   

Preheat the oven to 300 degrees. Fill the zucchini shells with the meat bread crumb stuffing, dividing equally and mounding slightly. Evenly sprinkle the grated cheese over the stuffed vegetables.

Add the white wine, the remaining parsley, the remaining basil, and a teaspoon of sea salt to the remaining crushed tomatoes. Mix well. Add this mixture to a casserole dish. Place the zucchini shells on top of the tomatoes and cover with aluminum foil tightly.

Bake in the oven for 1 1/2 hours taking the aluminum foil off during the last 15 minutes of baking.

Serve with rice or orzo pasta.

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