Stuffed Courgettes or Zucchini with Pork and Beef (Verdure Ripiene)

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This is a great way of getting children to eat a vegetable: if you serve the courgette or zucchini ‘boats’ at room temperature they can even eat them with their hands. The traditional recipe below uses pork and beef but you can use one or the other. If you can find the round courgettes use those, they look very pretty on the plate or use half courgettes and peppers.

Serves 4



4 large or 8 small long courgettes/zucchini
2 teaspoons finely chopped basil plus some basil leaves for garnish
100g beef, minced
100g pork, minced
1 egg
8 tablespoons Parmesan cheese, freshly grated
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
1 garlic clove, finely chopped and softened in olive oil or 1 teaspoon garlic oil (recipe here)
4 tablespoons home-made tomato sauce, reheated  – recipe here (optional)


1. Take a teaspoon and use it to score a channel in the courgette/zucchini.  Empty the inside of the channel, making sure to leave the base intact or the vegetable will collapse with cooking. Reserve the pulp and chop it finely.

2. Mix the courgette/zucchini pulp with the chopped basil and add this to the beef and pork mince in a large bowl. Add the egg, half the Parmesan cheese, a sprinkling of salt and black pepper and the fried garlic (or garlic oil). Stir together gently.

3. Fill the courgette/zucchini shell with the pork mixture. Sprinkle over the rest of the Parmesan. Drizzle over the olive oil. Place the vegetable shells on an oven tray and bake until the courgette/zucchini is soft but not collapsing. It should take about 30 to 35 minutes. Leave for a few minutes to firm up, spoon over the tomato sauce if using and serve.

This recipe has been triple-tested in the gréatfood test kitchen.

If you use round courgettes or zucchini, cut the top off, fill then replace the top and bake. You’ll need a tight-fitting pan so they stay upright.

Use 4 red or green peppers or a mixture of the two colours instead of courgettes. Cut them in half, remove the seeds and ribs (chop the ribs and add them to the meat mixture) and fill them with the mixture. You can also use half peppers and half courgette/zucchini – it makes a lovely presentation on the plate.

If you have too much of the meat mixture left over (or why not make double the quantity above), roll it into small balls, pop it into freezer bags and freeze for up to 3 months. When you want a quick pasta dish remove them, defrost, fry until cooked and toss with cooked pasta and some of our warm Italian tomato sauce. Alternately chop some ripe tomato and basil leaves and add them to the pasta with the fried meatballs (called polpette in Italian) instead of the cooked tomato sauce.

The basil and Parmesan are easy to replace if you don’t have them in the fridge: use any soft herb like oregano, marjoram, mint or parsley and any hard (preferably Italian) cheese.

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