Sausage Stuffed Zucchini

4 small to medium-size zucchini, stem ends removed and cut in half lengthwise 
1-1/2 teaspoons Italian seasonings, DIVIDED
12 ounces spicy breakfast sausage
1/2 cup chopped onion
1 cup seeded and chopped green bell pepper
1/4 cup Italian flavored dry bread crumbs
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1 large egg, beaten
2/3 cup PLUS 2 tablespoons shredded Parmesan cheese, DIVIDED

 

  1. Scoop out the insides of the zucchini halves with a small grapefruit spoon, leaving about 1/4-inch shell and reserving the pulp. Drain zucchini pulp in a colander.  Lightly sprinkle zucchini shells with 1/2 teaspoon Italian seasonings. 
  2. Heat a large nonstick skillet over medium heat.  Add sausage and break up sausage into small pieces with a wooden spoon.  Cook until sausage pieces are brown and no pink color remains.  With a slotted spoon, remove sausage from skillet and drain well on paper towels.  Spoon sausage into a large bowl, crumbling any remaining large pieces.  Discard all but 1 teaspoon pan dripping. 
  3. Over medium heat, add onion and bell pepper to pan drippings in hot skillet and sauté until they are soft, stirring frequently. 
  4. Chop reserved zucchini pulp into small/medium pieces.  Add zucchini pulp to skillet and cook until moisture evaporates.  Remove from heat and stir in bread crumbs, remaining 1 teaspoon Italian seasonings and pepper.
  5. Add vegetable mixture, egg and 2/3 cup cheese to the cooled sausage.  Gently mix all ingredients together.
  6. Fill zucchini shells with sausage mixture. 
  7. Spray a 9x12-inch baking dish with nonstick cooking spray.  Place the stuffed zucchini shells in baking dish.
  8. Bake in a preheated 350 degree F oven for 20-22 minutes or until zucchini shells are soft and the internal temperature of the sausage mixture registers 165 degrees F.  Remove from oven and lightly sprinkle remaining cheese over sausage.  Return to oven and bake 1 minute. 

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