Stuffed Zucchini Simmered in Tomato Sauce (Zucchine Ripiene alla Romana)

September 14, 2018
2 Ratings
Photo by Bobbi Lin
  • Prep time 15 minutes
  • Cook time 50 minutes
  • Serves 4 to 6
Author Notes

One of my favorite dinner party dishes is this zucchine ripiene alla Romana, which is stuffed zucchini filled with a mixture of meat (veal, bread crumbs, Parmigiano-Reggiano, spices, and egg) that could easily substitute for meatballs. When making this dish, you hollow out the center of the zucchini and season the inside with salt. Then, you’ll stuff the zucchini with the meat mix and simmer it in a garlicky tomato sauce until everything is nice and tender. If you’re serving a crowd, you can also set aside the cored zucchini (there's no sense in wasting it) and add it to this Roman-style pasta made with Pecorino, guanciale, and black pepper.

This recipe is featured in the story, When I First Moved to Rome, I Found the Sunday Dinners I Never Had, sponsored by Lagostina.katieparla

What You'll Need
  • 6 medium zucchini, halved crosswise
  • Sea salt
  • 3/4 pound ground veal
  • 1/4 cup fresh breadcrumbs
  • 1/8 cup finely grated Parmigiano-Reggiano
  • 1 tablespoon finely chopped parsley
  • 1/8 teaspoon nutmeg
  • 1 large egg
  • 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 garlic clove, smashed
  • 1/2 (14-ounce can) whole tomatoes, crushed by hand
  1. Using a vegetable peeler, core the zucchini, setting aside the interior to use for Mezze Maniche alla Gricia con le Zucchine.
  2. In a medium bowl, mix together the veal, breadcrumbs, Parmigiano-Reggiano, parsley, nutmeg, and the egg. Season with salt.
  3. Salt the inside of the zucchini.
  4. Using your hands or a spoon, fill the hollowed-out zucchini with the meat mixture and set aside.
  5. Meanwhile, heat the olive oil in a large skillet over low heat. When the oil begins to shimmer, add the garlic and cook, stirring, just until golden, about 5 minutes. Add the zucchini, then the tomatoes, a ¼ cup of water, and season with salt. Cook, covered, until the zucchini are very tender, about 40 minutes, turning once.

See what other Food52ers are saying.

  • GratedGarlic
  • hlecuye
  • MsJoanie

3 Reviews

hlecuye December 28, 2022
This was good, but it could use a few tweaks. If I made this again, I wouldn't do stuffed zucchini. I would make meatballs in sauce, and add some extra garlic, Italian seasoning, and parmesan cheese to the sauce. I would also dice the zucchinis, toss in oil, salt, and pepper, roast the zucchini in the oven, and then toss the zucchini in the sauce at the end. I did like this served over white rice.
GratedGarlic October 22, 2020
I stretched one fresh tomato from our CSA into a sauce and simmered with zucchini and nutmeg seasoned sausage. It was simple and beautiful. Thank you for the inspiration.
MsJoanie November 16, 2018
I definitely think this recipe could benefit from some additional review and photos of the process. That said, the end result was very tasty with a few tweaks.

First, beat the egg and mix it with your breadcrumbs, cheese, and spices before you mix in the veal to keep everything light. I can't buy fresh ground veal where I live so I had to buy a one pound frozen pack. It's expensive so I upped the breadcrumbs and cheese a little bit and used the full pound. It wasn't too much for the zucchini I bought which were about 9 inches long and two inches in diameter.

Additionally, I used the entire can of tomatoes with it's sauce since half the can was nowhere near enough sauce to cook the stuffed zucchini. I did add the 1/4 cup of water prior to adding in the rest of the tomatoes and actually think it made the sauce watery. I had to take the zucchini out when they finished cooking and reduce the sauce. I also found the sauce a little bland so I added some Italian seasoning and granulated onion to liven it up. I might add a bay leaf and some parmesan rind while it's cooking next time.

I served this with some parmesan polenta which was an excellent accompaniment.