Fresh zucchini is coming into the local markets in abundance. Maybe you have a backyard garden with zucchini growing. It doesn’t take long for zucchini to get really big. I have to check on them every day, and if I don’t, I will surely return to the garden and find a monster.

Anyway, you can take some zucchini that may seem a little big, hollow them out and stuff them. Here’s a great summertime idea based on a recipe by Giada De Laurentiis.

Stuffed Zucchini and Peppers

Yield: 6 servings

2 Tbsp. olive oil

1 small onion, grated

1/4 c. chopped fresh Italian parsley leaves

1 large egg

3 Tbsp. ketchup

3 garlic cloves, minced

1 tsp. salt

1/4 tsp. freshly ground black pepper

1/3 c. grated Pecorino Romano

1/4 c. dried plain bread crumbs

1 lb. ground turkey, preferably dark meat

2 zucchini, ends removed, halved lengthwise and crosswise

1 short orange bell pepper, halved and seeded

1 short red bell pepper, halved and seeded

1 short yellow bell pepper, halved and seeded

1½ c. marinara sauce

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Preheat the oven to 400 F.

Lightly drizzle the olive oil into a 13-by-9-by-2-inch baking dish. Whisk the onion, parsley, egg, ketchup, garlic, salt, and pepper in a large bowl to blend. Stir in the cheese and bread crumbs. Mix in the turkey. Cover and refrigerate the turkey mixture.

Using a melon baller or spoon, carefully scrape out the seeds and inner flesh from the zucchini, leaving 1/4-inch-thick shells. Be careful not to pierce through the skin.

Fill the zucchini and pepper halves with the turkey mixture, dividing equally and mounding slightly.

Arrange the stuffed vegetables in the baking dish. Pour the marinara sauce over the stuffed vegetables.

Bake uncovered at 350 F until the vegetables are tender and beginning to brown and a thermometer inserted into the filling registers 165 F, about 45 minutes. It might take longer. Be patient and make sure the peppers are tender.

Transfer the stuffed vegetables to a platter and serve.

Pair the wine for this dish with the marinara sauce. The sauce is the boss! This has got a Chianti-style wine written all over it. We need to go with sangiovese for these stuffed vegetables. Try Lucas & Lewellen’s 2012 Santa Barbara County Sangiovese. This varietal is steadily gaining a foothold in far flung districts of California where the cooler climate locations like their Los Alamos vineyard are proving to be the most promising. Distinguished by aromas of pomegranate and fruits like plum and cherry, this 100% sangiovese wine will enhance all Italian and Mediterranean cuisine, and complement the fresh garden and baked flavors in this dish.

Or try Rusack’s 2013 Ballard Canyon Estate Sangiovese, another good example of a California-style version of this Italian gem. Fruit forward and well balanced with aromas and flavors of black cherries, raspberries and black tea, drink this wine now.


John David Finley is a freelance writer and author of the cookbook, "Sacred Meals from our Family Table," which features Santa Barbara County wines. He can be reached at