For the past year, I haven’t been to the grocery store.
I suppose that’s not entirely true, though it does sometimes feel like it. I was actually frequently at the grocery store for work, buying limes by the dozen or seeking out rutabaga in April. But because the Country Boy was gainfully funemployed starting last fall, he took on the task of visiting the grocery store, which, even though it’s “not his favorite job” (as my mother prefers we say), is much less terrifying during the day, when most people are at work.
But the days of composing my grocery list on Sundays and coming home to groceries on Mondays are over. I won’t say there wasn’t the the occasional odd confusion, like fresh sage instead of the little container of dried I expected, or cucumbers instead of zucchini, but for the most part, it was a fairly nice system, especially for me. I would plan a menu every week, and upon returning home, make whatever I had planned with the ingredients I had requested. It was easy and effective. And if I’m honest, it took a great deal of the fun out of it for me.
TCB started work full-time on Monday after a few weeks of part-time; the grocery shopping, once tolerated by the boy because he was free to peruse the aisles of our local Monoprix at 3 in the afternoon, has been relegated to me. After all, if it were up to the boy, we’d be surviving entirely on frozen hamburger patties and pasta.
But I digress.
The point of this post is not to complain about grocery shopping. Quite the contrary. Simply and easily, I’ve slid back into my old pattern of shopping every day, picking up just the ingredients I need for dinner at the perfectly-placed Carrefour just outside my work. It’s a bit sad how excited I get at the prospect of a new grocery store chain, but even with my year hiatus, the grocery stores in my neighborhood had me uninspired. I’m not really sure what it is about the change — it’s not as though Carrefour is particularly better stocked than Monoprix — but I felt inspired to cook again. Maybe it’s just being in the aisles and taking the time to actually look at everything, considering canned vegetables, reflecting in front of the fresh herbs… instead of being dragged through as though the grocery store were a racetrack and the race were punctuated with a fair bit of heavy sighing, as my few trips in the past year have been.
This is what today’s trip to the store inspired. Zucchini are almost out of season, and while they’re one of the few vegetables that actually remain available all year long here in France thanks to hothouses, I won’t be making them any longer once the label indicating where they’re from switches from France to Spain. To send summer out with a bang, I used the basil leaves that TCB has been ardently cultivating since this spring.
It’s nice to each be back to doing what we do best.
Stuffed Zucchini with Basil
1 Tbsp. olive oil
200 grams (7 ounces) raw ground beef
1 shallot, minced
2 cloves garlic, minced
100 grams (3.5 ounces) cream cheese
salt and pepper
fresh leaves of basil
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.
Slice the zucchini in half lengthwise. Place them face-down on a nonstick baking sheet or one sprayed with a bit of cooking spray. Bake for 20 minutes or until the zucchini are tender. Set aside while you prepare the filling.
Heat the olive oil over high heat. Add the beef in one layer and allow to brown for 2 minutes before stirring with a wooden spoon. Season with salt. Push the beef to the sides of the pan, forming a well int he center. Add the shallot and sauté for 1 minute. Stir into the beef mixture and form a well in the center again. Add the garlic and sauté 1 more minute. Stir to combine and place the beef mixture in a bowl.
When the zucchini are cool enough to handle, scoop the seeds and some of the flesh out with a spoon, leaving at least a centimeter on all sides.
Combine the beef mixture with the cream cheese and egg. Season with salt and pepper.
Use a spoon to scoop the beef mixture into the hollowed-out zucchini. Place on the baking sheet and bake for an additional 10-15 minutes, until the filling is browned on top.
Top with a chiffonnade of fresh basil.