Zucchini Cups

A tasty vegetarian starter or side dish is stuffed with flavor

George Vutetakis, longtime chef/proprietor of Royal Oak’s Inn Season Café, has been working on his cookbook, Vegetarian Traditions, Favorite Recipes from My Years at the Legendary Inn Season Café, since 2002, when he sold the restaurant and moved to California. Vutetakis resides in San Diego, where he runs the website thevegetarianguy.com, which published the book ($29.99). He says this recipe is best as a starter, but it can also be used as a garnish or side dish.

Photograph by Joe Vaughn

> ZUCCHINI CUPS (Serves 4)

  • 1 medium to large zucchini, cut into eight 2-and-a-half-inch cylinders.
  • Pinch of salt


  • 1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
  • 2 tablespoons fresh lime juice
  • 1 teaspoon tamari (soybean sauce)
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried oregano
  • 1/4 teaspoon sea salt


  • 3/4 cup pepitas, toasted on a
  • baking sheet at 375 degrees for approximately 9 minutes
  • 1 cup cilantro leaves, chopped
  • 1-1/2 tablespoons fresh lime juice
  • 2 teaspoons olive oil
  • 1 teaspoon garlic, minced
  • 1/4 teaspoon sea salt
  • 1 jalapeño (optional), stemmed and seeded
  • 8 cherry tomatoes

Using a melon baller, carefully scoop out the insides of each cylinder, leaving the bottom intact and creating a cup. Place zucchini cups cored side up in baking dish and lightly sprinkle with sea salt. Refrigerate for 2-4 hours, or overnight.

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Remove zucchini slices from baking dish and drain. Mix all baking sauce ingredients and spread evenly in baking dish. Place zucchini cored side down on sauce. Cover and bake for 20 minutes. Remove from oven and, using tongs, turn the zucchinis cored side up. Reserve.

Change oven temperature to 375 degrees. In a food processor, grind toasted pepitas to a meal, add all pesto ingredients, except tomatoes, and pulse to a coarse consistency. Fill zucchini cups with pesto, create a little rounding, and then place a tomato on the top of each zucchini. Cover and bake for 20 minutes or until the tomato is soft. Serve hot.

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