I made this dish several months ago (we were still living in OK) but the photos were temporarily misplaced.  Misplaced as in “downloaded to the wrong folder”.  I stumbled upon them the other day by complete accident, while searching for a figure to include in a power point presentation. Amazing how efficiently I can mess up stuff sometimes.  For those headed into the cooler months, finding eight-ball zucchini could be a stretch, but my readers in the Southern hemisphere will be able to try this recipe sooner… It is delicious!

(from the Bewitching Kitchen)

2 eight-ball zucchini
1 medium regular zucchini, cut in small dice
1 Tbs grapeseed oil (or olive oil)
1 shallot, finely diced
salt and pepper
1/2 cup Israeli couscous
1/2 cup ricotta cheese
1/4 cup dried cranberries

Cut the top off of the round zucchini, and carefully coop out the inside, leaving a 1/4 inch wall around to contain the filling later.   Reserve the pulp.  Place the zucchini on a steamer basket and steam for 10 minutes, checking after 5 minutes to make sure it’s not getting too soft.   Remove from the steamer and let it cool briefly.   Meanwhile, prepare the stuffing:  saute the shallots in grapeseed or olive oil until translucent.  Add the reserved pulp of the eight ball zucchini, and the diced regular zucchini.  Saute until soft and fragrant, season with salt and pepper.    Reserve.

Cook the Israeli couscous in plenty of salted, boiling water.  Drain it a couple of minutes before the time stated in the package, as it will cook further during baking. Reserve.

Heat the oven to 375 F.  Mix the sautéed zucchini with the couscous, ricotta cheese, and dried cranberries.   Adjust seasoning with a little more salt and pepper, if needed.   Generously fill the hollowed eight-ball zucchini all the way to the top and rest the cap on.  You may have leftover filling, depending on the size of your zucchini.  Place the zucchini in a baking dish, cover lightly with foil, and bake for 35 to 30 minutes.


to print the recipe, click here

Comments:  I’ve made stuffed zucchini many times, but most recipes omit the steaming, and ask you to simply fill it and bake it.  When I make it that way, the zucchini never gets tender.  I also tried microwaving to simplify life a little, but steaming works best.  I know, I know, it’s an extra step and a couple more items to wash, but sometimes in the name of a nice dish sacrifices must be made.  So I put on my Braveheart face, and steam it.

I’ve used quinoa in place of couscous, and it results (of course) in a lighter dish, but very tasty too.   You can use rice, orzo, barley, farro, anything stuffed inside an eight-ball zucchini will immediately seem healthy and light.  Stuffing with lasagna might be a stretch, though! 😉

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  1. I am always looking for ideas for farro. Come spring, when summer squash is plentiful at the farmer’s market I will be making this. I will probably have to stuff one with meat for my husband as he does not share my love of farro.


    • Indeed it was… you know how it goes… the brain freezes for a few milliseconds when it sees a photo that is NOT supposed to be there, and then… the thrill of seeing my stuffed zucchini, long lost, retrieved!


  2. Ah, all my photos that I took since Nov 21 were gone too. Not sure what happening with my iphoto. Husband still trying to look through all files. At the moment, I just feel so irritated😦. Hope yours just misplace and find it asap.

    Your zukes sound yummy!


    • Definitely something that can be made into a South Beach friendlly concoction. I am not sure how quinoa stands in that type of nutrition, but maybe barley would work? Anyway you are the expert, I’m sure you can find alternative ways to fill the veggie! 😉


  3. Sally, can you believe I have never come across an eight-ball zucchini before?! (I’m not sure it’s a northern hemisphere thing ;-)). What a revelation and there’s no end to what you can stuff these puppies with! I like your the idea of cranberry accompanying the couscous… very Christmas!


  4. @ Kelly: I have never come across 8-ball zucchini either and I do live in the Southern Hemisphere! Interesting to learn, but, let’s face it the recipe can be made to work with most zuccinis or squash! I like the idea of cranberries in it and shall certainly try!


    • Exactly! Now that I see all the comments about the eight ball, I must say that I had never seen it in grocery stores, it was something I would buy in farmers market in Oklahoma. Here in Kansas, to be completely honest, I did not pay attention but we arrived for good in August, so who knows if they had it earlier in the Spring? I will keep an eye for it next year – but as you said, the recipe will work with any squash. Even butternut squash could work well, adjusting cooking times etc etc.


  5. I am pretty sure I have seen these adorable little zukes on farmers’ markets here in the west too. Since we tend to be overblessed with zucchini in season, I have never had a chance to buy any but I have definitely seen them. Your recipe looks scrumptious, Sally! So glad you found the missing files. I can just imagine your face lighting up in amazement and joy when you realized what they were!


  6. I’ve never seen and eight ball zucchini before. I never even knew they existed! What fun! I’m going to have to look for this in the summer. I know we would love this dish! And I’m glad I’m not the only one that ends up with lost files in other folders. I always think finding them inadvertently is kind of like finding that extra money in your winter coat pocket from the year before.🙂


  7. I know what you mean about losing photos. It can be so frustrating. Glad you did find these, though, Sally. Like Kristy, I’ve never seen 8 ball zucchini and the photo will give me an idea of what I’m looking for at next Summer’s farmers markets. And that’s a great tip about steaming the “shells” first. It may be an extra step but this dish is worth it.


    • You know, one of the best fish dishes I ever cooked was in Los Angeles, and I took ALL photos with the manual setting on instead of automatic. I took all photos, ate the food, and later that evening almost howled in pain when I saw the photos. I should make that again…. (sigh)


  8. I honestly have not seen these 8 ball zuchinii! The presentation is very catchy and has me noting a search next summer for the 8 ball zuchini! I love the stuffing and as you mentioned the variety – always good for me as I never know what I have on hand and love recipes I can easily change up!


    • Israeli couscous is a favorite – the texture, in my opinion, is much better than the “regular” couscous. Sauces coat is better, it is more versatile. Not that I don’t love the humble couscous, though…🙂


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