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Monday, February 22, 2016

Cheesy Stuffed Artichokes and Zucchini

Today, I'm trying something new!  I wrote this post as part of an Italian Dinner Blog Hop.  Fun fun!  Click here to check out the other bloggers and get some great ideas:  An InLinkz Link-up

Who doesn't love a cheesy, herb-y, breadcrumb-y stuffing mixture??  You could probably make a shoebox tasty if you stuffed it with that!  Ha!  For today though, let's stick to already yummy, Artichoke Hearts and Zucchini.

Everything you'll need:

2 or 3 shredded Italian Cheeses (your pick...I used Asiago, Parm and Mozzarella)- 1/2 cup of each
Plain Breadcrumbs- 1/2 cup
Salt and Pepper to taste
frozen or marinated Artichoke Hearts (thawed, rinsed, strained and laid out on a paper towel to dry)
2 large Zucchinis
1/2 Lemon
Garlic-infused Olive Oil (recipe below)
fresh Basil Leaves (optional)

Garlic-infused Olive Oil
 1/2 cup Olive Oil
1 or 2 minced Garlic Cloves (depending on how much you like Garlic)
splash of Lemon Juice
*Blend all ingredients together in a jar or measuring cup.

1.  Preheat the oven to 400 degrees and grab a couple cookie sheets or roasting pans.
2.  Cut the Zucchinis in half long ways, lay open-faced on a cookie sheet and drizzle or brush with Olive Oil.  Place in the oven and allow to heat for about 8 minutes to soften.

 3.  In the meantime, lay the Artichokes in pairs on a greased cookie sheet.
*Note: placing them in pairs helps most of the filling stay on top.

4.  In a medium bowl, mix the Cheeses, Bread Crumbs, the zest of 1/2 a Lemon, and Salt and Pepper.
5.  Place a spoonful of cheese mixture on top of each Artichoke pair (using half the mixture).  Top with a spoonful of the Garlic-infused Olive Oil and place in the oven.  Bake for about 10 minutes, or until golden brown.

6. When the Zucchini is ready, remove from the oven and using a serrated spoon, cut out the core and cut into medium-sized slices.
7.  Place back on the cookie sheet, white side up, and repeat the filling process like you did with the Artichokes.  Place in the oven and bake (these took a little longer for me) for about 20 minutes.

*Feel free to add more of the Garlic Olive Oil or more cheese on top about halfway through baking.

Here are the finished products!  Serve on a decorative platter with fresh Basil leaves, or even a bowl of freshly-made Basil Pesto.

This recipe will make a great starter for your Italian-themed dinner party.  They sure do smell yummy while cooking!

*Note:  This recipe is flexible. What I mean by that is, you don't have to do it just like I did it.  You're free to use my recipe as a sort of template for your favorite veggies and cheeses.  Feel free to add whatever seasonings you like as well!  
**Another Note:If you want to do only one veggie and not the other, just half the other ingredients.

Above all things, get creative!  It's always my hope to inspire some creativity and fun in the kitchen.  Have your own Italian-themed dinner party soon and enjoy this appetizer.

Until next time friends, Arrivederci!!

Don't forget the link to get more ideas for you Italian Dinner Party!  #italiandinnerbloghop