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For pairing with SCHUG Sonoma Valley Pinot Noir
3 medium round zucchinis (round is best, oblong ok)
½ recipe Mac ‘n Cheese, Kristine’s Way (see website), at room temperature
Bread crumb topping from Mac ‘n Cheese recipe
1 cup crumbled cooked bacon
6 cups marinara sauce (preferably homemade), fully heated
1 cup fresh basil leaves, cut into chiffonade
½ cup Parmesan cheese, if desired
Heat a large pasta pot full of salted water to a boil. Reduce heat to a simmer. Next, wipe down the round zucchinis with a damp paper towel and then cut them so they have a top and bottom half. Carefully slice off the stem end and then the blossom end, taking care not to cut so much that there is a hole in the squash. Carefully scoop out the inside of the zucchini halves- a melon baller is a good tool for this job. Leave the walls of the zucchini halves about a half-inch thick. The insides of the squash can be discarded or used for another purpose.
Place the strainer portion of the pasta pot into it and then place two or three of the zucchini halves into the salted simmering water. Poach the zucchini halves for 3 or 4 minutes or until they have softened slightly. They may need to be gently pushed down now and then so they cook evenly. Be careful not to cook them too long or they will become too soft to be stuffed. Once they have softened a little remove them to a colander in your sink and rinse them with cold water until they are cool enough to be handled. Place them upside down on a sheet pan covered with paper towels to drain. Repeat with remaining zucchini halves.
Turn oven on to 350°F. Prepare a sheet pan with a layer of foil and brush it with olive oil. Place the six squash halves onto the sheet pan and fill each one with enough mac ‘cheese to be mounded up slightly in the zucchini halves. Lightly cover the zucchini with foil (non-stick foil is great for this job!) and place into the heated oven. Bake the zucchini for about 30 minutes. Add the crumbled bacon to the crumb topping and mix together well. Remove the zucchini from the oven, remove the foil and cover each zucchini half with some bread crumbs and bacon. Return the zucchini to the oven for another 10 minutes or so, until the bread crumbs have begun to brown.
Set out 6 dinner plates and place a ½-cup of the heated marinara sauce in the center of each plate. Place a hot zucchini half onto the sauce and pour another ½-cup of sauce over each. Top with the fresh basil leaves and Parmesan cheese, if desired. Serve hot. Makes 6 stuffed zucchini.