Standing in the kitchen, hands full of half-peeled zucchini in the dark of night, I’m trying to channel my grandmother circa 1984. Five years before I was born, President Ronald Reagan was in office, astronauts went on the first untethered space walk on the moon, and Apple made a splash with its infamous “1984” Macintosh commercial. It was also the year that Bon Appétit magazine published a recipe for Zucchini Cups Stuffed with Peas.
I know this because my grandmother so carefully clipped and preserved this relic of the past. It survived nearly four decades, multiple moves, deaths and births, whole lifetimes. Not once did I ever see zucchini cups with peas grace our table, and I can’t help but wonder…
Why? Why zucchini cups?
- Why was this recipe run in December, for starters, when neither zucchini nor peas would be in season?
- Why was this the standout dish my grandmother kept, of things?
- Why couldn’t I stop thinking about it, from the minute my mom unearthed it?
These questions have no answers.
My grandmother doesn’t remember the zucchini cups or what inspired her to file the recipe away. I’m okay with not knowing; some things just are that way, and I’m happy to have this taste of the past, maybe even better than what my grandmother had envisioned during her years of entertaining.
Small changes were necessary, of course, to veganize and enhance the original stuffed zucchini recipe with modern ingredients and technology.
- Butter is traded for peppery extra virgin olive oil.
- Dried tarragon gets axed in favor of verdant fresh herbs.
- Melon ballers belong only in museums at this point, so I reached for my trusty zucchini reamer instead (yes, that’s a thing)- Though you could very happily use a regular pairing knife here.
- Boiled zucchini sound downright dreadful, which is why the dry heat of the oven, which concentrates flavors and gently browns the surface, had much greater appeal.
The real beauty of the concept, however, is that it doesn’t take much to assemble or enjoy. I suppose they were intended to serve as appetizers or snacks for guests, as every good housewife should be ready to entertain at the drop of a hat, but I happen to think they make a fantastic side dish for any random weekday dinner, too.
If you have extra peas, those alone are brilliant to pair with just about any protein, such as a meatless loaf, balls, or cutlet, especially with creamy mashed potatoes or al dente pasta as a base. Beyond that, consider using them to top avocado toast, puree to use as a dip, or mash roughly to stuff into sandwiches.
I’m certain my grandmother never made the original recipe, but I hope I could still do her proud with my rendition. We don’t have many memories together, at least in recent years, so I’m grateful to keep making new ones now.
- 3 (Approximately 1-Pound, 2 1/2-Inch Diameter) Zucchini, Ends Trimmed
- 3 Tablespoons Olive Oil, Divided
- 1/2 Teaspoon Salt, Divided
- 1/4 Cup Minced Yellow Onion
- 2 Cloves Garlic, Minced
- 1 Cup Frozen Green Peas
- 1/4 Cup Fresh Dill, Chives, and/or Parsley, Minced
- 1 Teaspoon Lemon Juice
- 1/4 Teaspoon Ground White Pepper
- 1/2 Lemon, Thinly Sliced (Optional)
- Preheat your oven to 400 degrees and line a sheet pan with parchment paper or a silicone baking mat; set aside.
- Peel lengthwise strips of the zucchini skins to create a striped pattern. Remove the tops and bottoms, then cut them into 1 1/2-inch pieces. Use a paring knife or zucchini reamer to hollow out the pieces, leaving about 1/4-inch of flesh around the sides and 1/2-inch at the bottoms. Reserve the cores.
- Place the zucchini cups on your prepared baking sheet. Drizzle them evenly with 1 tablespoon of oil and season with 1/4 teaspoon of salt. Bake for 10 - 15 minutes, until the zucchini is tender and lightly browned around the edges.
- Meanwhile, set a medium saucepan on the stove over medium heat and add the remaining 2 tablespoons of oil. Add the onion and garlic, sauteing until golden brown and aromatic; about 8 minutes. Add the reserved zucchini cores along with the salt and cook for another 2 - 3 minutes, until tender. Toss in the peas, cooking just until thawed and hot all the way through. Remove the pan from the heat before incorporating the fresh herbs, lemon juice, and white pepper.
- Once the cups are cooked, spoon the herbed peas inside, distributing the cores evenly. Gently pack them in and don't be afraid to pile them up high. Serve hot or warm, with lemon slices for garnish if desired.
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Amount Per Serving: Calories: 68Total Fat: 5gSaturated Fat: 1gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 4gCholesterol: 0mgSodium: 134mgCarbohydrates: 5gFiber: 1gSugar: 2gProtein: 1g
All nutritional information presented within this site are intended for informational purposes only. I am not a certified nutritionist and any nutritional information on BitterSweetBlog.com should only be used as a general guideline. This information is provided as a courtesy and there is no guarantee that the information will be completely accurate. Even though I try to provide accurate nutritional information to the best of my ability, these figures should still be considered estimations.