Fun Veggie from the Farmer’s Market – Cue Ball Zucchini
I love visiting the local farmer’s markets and developing relationships with the growers is so rewarding to me. These farmers and growers have taught me so much about vegetables and ingredients along my journey. I purchase my Cue Ball Zucchini from Bob Horsford of Horsford Farms at the Skaneateles Farmers Market which is held Thursday afternoons from 3:30 pm to 6:30 pm and on Saturdays from 10 am until 1:00 pm. Bob has beautiful pesticide free produce and his June bounty usually includes heirloom lettuces, cue ball squash, zucchini, summer squash, red onions, and seedless cucumbers.
Zucchini is packed with vitamins and nutrients. It has 14% of your daily fiber, along with 92% of your daily Vitamin C, 13 % of your daily Vitamin A and 24% of your daily Potassium. It’s also low in calories and is a non-starchy veggie perfect for your THM journey.
If you can’t find Cue Ball zucchini there are two other varieties of a round zucchini which are One Ball and Eight Ball Zucchini. The 8 Ball is dark green like regular zucchini. One Ball is bright yellow. They all taste and cook the same.
Instant Pot Stuffed Cue Ball Zucchini
This recipe is so fast to cook in the Instant Pot. Once your squash is stuffed the cooking time is only 3 minutes with a quick pressure release. My husband, Richard, loves these. This recipe is so easy to change up. Sometimes I switch up the ground meat using 1/2 pound of ground beef and a 1/4 pound of Italian sausage, chopped turkey pepperoni and more oregano, served with a small side of pizza sauce. These are great when we are in the mood for pizza.
You may be wondering why I choose 95% lean ground beef for this THM S recipe rather than a higher fat content like 85/15 or 80/20. For me it’s just a matter of preference when I am layering flavors. If you use a higher fat ground beef I would suggest that you drain the grease from your ground beef when it has cooked since you will be layering flavors and building the zucchini stuffing. In addition, you may want to increase the mushrooms by one or 2 ounces since part of the weight of your meat will be drained away as fat.
You can easily turn this into a THM E meal by using a 96% lean ground meat, add cooked brown rice and eliminate the cheese except as garnish using a low fat cheese to dress up the tops.
Ingredients, Tools and Small Appliances Used for Stuffed Cue Ball Zucchini
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- 3 whole cue ball zucchini squash (washed and hollowed out)
- ¾ pound ground beef, 95% lean
- ⅛ teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
- ¼ teaspoon garlic powder
- ¾ teaspoon dried oregano
- ½ cup onion (finely diced)
- ⅓ cup green pepper (finely diced)
- 4 ounces baby bella mushrooms (finely diced)
- 1 whole tomato (peeled, de-seeded and diced
- 2 tablespoons tomato paste
- 2 tablespoons water
- ¼ teaspoon salt (mineral)
- ¼ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
- ¼ cup Parmesan cheese (grated)
- ½ cup mozzarella cheese, part skim milk (grated)
- Select 3 cue ball zucchini that are about the size of a soft ball. Wash and dry the cue ball zucchini. Carefully slice off the top, this will be about a ½-3/4 inch slice giving you enough room to scoop out the seeds and allow for the filling.
- Once you have scooped out the seeds turn upside down on a clean kitchen towel along with squash tops.
- Prepare and chop your onion, green pepper and baby bella mushrooms, set aside
- Place trivet in the stainless steel liner and add 1 cup of water.
- In a large skillet of your choice (at least 10 inch) add your ground beef, garlic powder and crushed red pepper flakes; cook your ground beef over medium heat until no longer pink. Push ground beef to one side and add the chopped onion and green pepper, cook until the onion is almost translucent, stir into the beef pushing to one side. Add the chopped baby bella mushrooms and cook until softened. Add diced tomato and stir both into the meat mixture, push to one side.
- Add your 2 tablespoons of tomato paste to the empty space in the skillet and toast for a minute or two to bring out the flavor. Carefully stir add 2 to 3 tablespoons of water into the tomato paste to combine. Once combined stir into the meat mixture and remove from heat.
- Stir in your Parmesan and mozzarella cheeses. Fill the prepared squash, packing the mixture inside each hollowed out squash.
- Once filled attach the squash top using two tooth picks placed on opposite sides. Position each squash on the trivet. Set liner in the pot. Close and lock lid, hit [Manual], adjust time to 3 minutes. Once pot beeps release the pressure quickly (QPR). Carefully open your pot with the inside of the lid pointed away from you. Carefully lift filled squash out with a large spoon onto a serving platter. Remove squash tops and garnish with additional cheese if desired.
- Oven Directions: Preheat oven to 375 degrees.Lightly grease a small deep casserole or roasting pan that is large enough to hold your stuffed cue ball squash. Prepare and fill squash as directed. Place stuffed squash in your casserole pan cover with a lid or aluminum foil. Bake about 20 minutes. They are done if a sharp knife slides in the squash easily.