Zucchini Baskets with Creamy Smoked Chicken

Zucchini Baskets with Chicken

“Pasta filata (Italian: “spun paste”) is a technique in the manufacture of a family of Italian cheeses also known in English as stretched-curd, pulled-curd, and plastic-curd cheeses. Stretched curd cheeses manufactured from the pasta filata technique undergo a plasticizing and kneading treatment of the fresh curd in hot water, which gives the cheese its fibrous structure.

The cheese-making begins in the normal way. The milk (usually from cows or water buffalo) is warmed and curdled and allowed to rest for an hour before the curds are cut into small pieces and the whey is drained off. The curds are allowed to rest for several hours.

Zucchini Baskets with Chicken

Then follows the filatura. The curds are steeped for some hours in a bath of very hot whey, or water (for Mozzarella di Bufala Campana the temperature is 95 °C). When they begin to float most of the liquid is removed and the curd is mixed and kneaded until the required soft, elastic, stringy texture is obtained. The mass of curd is divided (often by pulling out a thick strand and chopping it) and shaped into individual cheeses.

In the case of mozzarella, the process is now essentially complete — ideally these cheeses should be eaten within a matter of a few days. For other cheeses a pasta filata, such as Provolone, Caciocavallo Silano, Pallone di Gravina and Scamorza, further processing is needed: ageing and in some cases brining or smoking.” Source: “Mozzarella and Pizza cheese”. Cheese: Chemistry, Physics & Microbiology (second ed.). Elsevier Science & Technology.

Zucchini Baskets with Chicken

This is the method used 40 years now in the northwestern part of Greece in the town of Metsovo to prepare a very famous smoked cheese called Metsovone.

The cheese is under protected designation of origin and it is produced from 100% cow’s milk or a mix of cow’s and goat’s cheese but the goat cheese should not be more than 10% of the final product. It is salted and stays in brine for so many days as its weight in kilos. After it matures for about three months it is cured for 12 days using local herbs and stays hanged in the place where it was cured for 5 months.

It is a strong and packed with flavors cheese and can be eaten either alone or in gratins, pies and sandwiches. It has a very distinct flavor because of the special local herbs they use to cure it. I bought some the other day at the supermarket and I bought also these beautiful zucchinis from my green grocer and I thought of stuffing them with delicious, creamy, smoked chicken with vegetables. It was exquisite and you can also make this with pasta. I had some chicken leftovers and made some pasta at night and we really enjoyed this version too.

Zucchini Baskets with Chicken


5.0 from 5 reviews
Zucchini Baskets with Creamy Smoked Chicken
Author/ Συγγραφέας:
Recipe type/ Τύπος Πιάτου: Main Course
Cuisine/ Κουζίνα: Mediterranean
Ingredients/ Συστατικά
  • 6 round zucchinis
  • 2 chicken breasts, boneless, skinless, diced
  • 1 red bell pepper, diced
  • 1 green pepper, diced
  • 1 onion, chopped
  • Half of the zucchinis flesh, diced
  • Salt, pepper
  • ½ tsp paprika
  • Olive oil for sautéing
For the Sauce Mornay
  • 2 cups milk
  • 1 vegetable stock jelly
  • 2 tbsp butter
  • 4 tbsp corn starch dissolved in 2 tbsp of dry white wine
  • 1 egg
  • 1 cup grated Metsovone cheese or any other smoked cheese
  • Salt, pepper
  • ½ tsp nutmeg
  • ½ tsp paprika
Instructions/ Εκτέλεση
  1. Cut the zucchinis in half.
  2. Cut their stems on both sides and with a spoon empty their flesh leaving half inch from the skin.
  3. Place them clean part downwards to a steamer and steam for about 12 minutes.
  4. Remove from steamer and put them immediately in very icy water to stop them from continuing to boil.
  5. Cut their flesh in small cubes and keep half of it.
  6. The other half either discard it or place it in the fridge for another use.
  7. In a skillet pour couple of tbsp. of olive oil and sauté the veggies until somewhat soft.
  8. Remove and set aside.
  9. In the same skillet pour some more tbsp. of olive oil and sauté the chicken in strong fire until it is almost done.
  10. Add the vegetables and boil for couple of minutes.
  11. Turn off fire and set aside.
  12. Preheat oven to 175°C/350°F.
For the Mornay Sauce
  1. In a pot pour the milk and butter and bring to gentle boil.
  2. Pour the cornstarch, salt, pepper, paprika and nutmeg and whisk until the sauce starts to thicken.
  3. Remove and throw the egg after you have tempered it.
  4. Whisk vigorously and add the cheese.
  5. Put the pot to stove again and lower heat to low.
  6. Let the cheese melt completely and then pour the sauce to the veggie/chicken.
  7. Mix to incorporate and start stuffing the zucchinis.
  8. On top sprinkle some more grated Metsovone cheese.
  9. Place them in a pan and bake for about 20 minutes.
  10. Turn the broiler on and broil for 5 minutes or until a golden color is set on top of them.
  11. Let them cool for 5 minutes and serve.

5.0 from 5 reviews
Καλαθάκια Κολοκυθιού με Κοτόπουλο και Μετσοβόνε
Author/ Συγγραφέας:
Recipe type/ Τύπος Πιάτου: Κυρίως Πίατο
Cuisine/ Κουζίνα: Μεσογειακή
Ingredients/ Συστατικά
  • 6 στρογγυλά κολοκυθάκια
  • 2 στήθη κοτόπουλο, χωρίς κόκαλα και πέτσα, κομμένο σε κύβους
  • 1 κόκκινη πιπεριά, σε κύβους
  • 1 πράσινη πιπεριά, σε κύβους
  • 1 κρεμμύδι, ψιλοκομμένο
  • Το μισό της σάρκας από τα κολοκύθια, κομμένη σε κύβους
  • Αλάτι, πιπέρι
  • ½ κ.γ. πάπρικα
  • Ελαιόλαδο για το σοτάρισμα
Για τη Σάλτσα Μορνέ
  • 2 φλ. γάλα
  • 1 ζελέ ζωμού λαχανικών
  • 2 κ.σ. βούτυρο
  • 4 κ.σ. κορν φλάουρ διαλυμένο σε 2 κ.σ. λευκό ξηρό κρασί
  • 1 αυγό
  • 1 φλ. τυρί μετσοβόνε ή κάποιο άλλο καπνιστό τυρί
  • Αλάτι, πιπέρι
  • ½ κ.γ. μοσχοκάρυδο
  • ½ κ.γ. πάπρικα
Instructions/ Εκτέλεση
  1. Κόβουμε τα κολοκύθια στη μέση.
  2. Κόβουμε τους μίσχους από τις δύο πλευρές και με ένα κουτάλι τα αδειάζουμε από τη σάρκα τους αφήνοντας μισό πόντο από το γύρω γύρω.
  3. Τοποθετήστε τα με το κοίλο μέρος προς τα κάτω στον ατμομάγειρα για περίπου 12 λεπτά.
  4. Τα βγάζουμε και τα βάζουμε αμέσως σε πολύ παγωμένο νερό για να σταματήσει ο βρασμός.
  5. Κόβουμε τη σάρκα τους σε μικρούς κύβους και κρατάμε τη μισή ποσότητα.
  6. Το άλλο μισό είτε το πετάτε ή το τοποθετείτε στο ψυγείο για άλλη χρήση.
  7. Σε ένα τηγάνι ρίχνουμε δυο κουταλιές ελαιόλαδο και σοτάρουμε τα λαχανικά έως ότου μαλακώσουν.
  8. Τα βγάζουμε και τα αφήνουμε στην άκρη.
  9. Στο ίδιο τηγάνι ρίχνουμε μερικές κουταλιές ελαιόλαδο και σοτάρουμε το κοτόπουλο σε δυνατή φωτιά μέχρι να γίνει σχεδόν.
  10. Προσθέτουμε τα λαχανικά και βράζουμε για μερικά λεπτά.
  11. Σβήνουμε την φωτιά και αφήνουμε στην άκρη.
  12. Προθερμαίνουμε το φούρνο στους 175°C.
Για τη Σάλτσα Μορνέ
  1. Σε μια κατσαρόλα ρίχνουμε το γάλα και το βούτυρο και το φέρνουμε σε ήπιο βρασμό.
  2. Ρίχνουμε το κορν φλάουρ, το αλάτι, το πιπέρι, την πάπρικα και το μοσχοκάρυδο και ανακατεύουμε μέχρι η σάλτσα να αρχίσει να πήζει.
  3. Βγάζουμε από τη φωτιά και ρίχνουμε το αυγό.
  4. Ανακατεύουμε και προσθέτουμε το τυρί.
  5. Βάζουμε ξανά στη φωτιά και χαμηλώνουμε στο χαμηλό.
  6. Αφήνουμε το τυρί να λιώσει εντελώς και στη συνέχεια ρίχνουμε τη σάλτσα στο κοτόπουλο.
  7. Ανακατεύουμε να ενσωματωθούν και γεμίζουμε τα κολοκυθάκια.
  8. Από πάνω πασπαλίζουμε λίγο με τριμμένο τυρί Μετσοβόνε.
  9. Βάζουμε σε ένα ταψί και ψήνουμε για περίπου 20 λεπτά.
  10. Γυρίζουμε σε γκριλ και ψήνουμε για 5 λεπτά ή έως ότου έχει πάρει ένα χρυσό χρώμα από πάνω.
  11. Αφήνουμε να κρυώσει για 5 λεπτά και σερβίρουμε.


22 Responses to Zucchini Baskets with Creamy Smoked Chicken

  1. Miz Helen says:

    Your post has been featured on Full Plate Thursday! Thanks so much for sharing with us, we have really enjoyed it and we hope you enjoy your new Red Plate!
    Miz Helen

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  3. mjskitchen says:

    I’m growing these round zucchinis for the first time this year so I’m thrilled to have this recipe. What a great way to dress up what can be a rather boring vegetable.

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  5. Liz says:

    What a fun presentation! Perfect for summer and utterly delicious! Love the cheesy topping!

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  7. Sissi says:

    These edible bowls look wonderful, Katerina! I think I’ll buy these round courgettes more often this summer because first of all I love the type of cheese you mention (eaten warm my favourite are smoked ones too!) and once more I’m thrilled to discover vegetables stuffed with chicken pieces and not ground meat! It’s a nice change.

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  9. This looks delicious! I rarely buy zucchini because I never know what to do with it! This is going on my to-do list now!

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  11. Heather says:

    This is such an interesting recipe! I LOVE zucchini, and cheese, so I will have to save it and try it out some time! Thanks for sharing.

  12. 7
  13. gloria says:

    I find this recipe really awesome, I love zucchinis and fortunately still we have here. Look really amazing!!

  14. 8
  15. GiGi Eats says:

    WHAT??!?!?!?!?!?!?!??! THESE LOOK AMAZING!! I wish I could eat that sauce, because mannnnn it sounds like something I would want to stick my face in!! That being said, I am so adopting the Zucchini Basket method of yours!

  16. 9
  17. These zucchini baskets look so pretty and so delish. And that cheesy chicken filling is just wow! Perfect summer meal.

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  19. These baskest are simply gorgeous! So cocol to learn about the cheese filata technique. I did Mozzarella in my yerar of cheese making…not an easy cheese to make.

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  21. Pam says:

    The cheese is new to me and sounds delicious! Bet it is delicious with the zucchini and chicken. Interesting post about the cheese, thanks, Katerina!

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  23. This sounds amazingly good! Need to start collecting recipes for zukes!

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  25. Oh yum, I love stuffed zucchini☺

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  27. Wonderful looking dish! I don’t think I’ve ever had this cheese — sounds interesting. Super recipe — thanks so much.

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  29. Susan says:

    Adorable and delicious zucchini baskets, Katerina!

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  31. Malli says:

    Such cute little cups of deliciousness!!! Looks so good.

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  33. While I know I won’t be able to find the Metsovone cheese, I’m sure that I could used smoked mozzarella for a similar but I know different taste. The zucchini baskets look so pretty, I’ll have to see if I can find the round ones at our farmer’s market.

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  35. Eha says:

    Sadly I have never encountered round zucchinis in my market travels in Australia. The way of serving is so attractive tho’ that it will be tried with large-sized long ones! Smoked cheeses are naturally available even if I have not seen Metsovone on our shelves.

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  37. grace says:

    this looks like an absolutely magnificent meal! i love the idea of using zucchini as the serving vessel, and that sauce sounds just decadent! cheesy perfection, i’d say. :)

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  39. Katerina you have done it again. We are drooling over here on our keyboard. Sharing and pinning!

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  41. Mimi says:

    I really wish I could use the proper cheeses you talk about in your posts! The filled zucchini are just stunning. And the filling – superb!!! Maybe some fresh mozzarella mixed with fontina or gruyere?

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  43. wow that creamy cheesy sauce with chicken filling looks and sounds really inviting!

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