Healthy Now: Zucchini boats for ‘Bocce Ballers’ | SierraSun.com

Healthy Now: Zucchini boats for ‘Bocce Ballers’

Simone Grandmain
Special to the Sun

Zucchini boats for "Bocce Ballers."

It is a proven fact: certain sports trigger very specific food cravings. You've got your baseball and hotdog connection; the football and beer link; basketball fans go for chewing gum because their heads are doing the courtside swivel making hand-eye food coordination tricky; and then the swimming and maple bar doughnuts pairing.

At Truckee-Donner Recreation & Park District (TDRPD), our Bocce Ball courts are back in full swing with players enjoying the warm nights and a little tailgating. The Bocce Ball crowd breaks all rules when it comes to embracing a signature snack for their sport. They are all over the map.

The spread offered on the picnic blankets and tables has absolutely no cohesive theme, as it were. You would think, given the name and origin of their sport, the Bocce Ballers would go all out Italian. In fact, once upon a time this "boules" sport was a popular game in the Roman Empire. It made its way to America and Truckee via Italian immigrants, but quickly caught on in other communities.

It's easy to see why Bocce Ball courts have grown in number: first and foremost, it's a fun sport. This is made clear when you read through the TDRPD Bocce League team roster. With names like Meat-a-balls, Boccaholics and Mission Imbocceball, you kind of get the sense these people like to have fun.

They couldn't have picked a better setting to do so than the Bocce courts at Riverview Sports Park. Located just off Highway 267 near the Truckee Airport, this semi-hidden gem has traditional Bocce Ball courts (groomed sand), public barbecue set-ups, picnic tables and more, all wrapped up in a killer view, and Aspen groves. TDRPD has three Bocce Ball leagues, each consisting of seven teams, who play Monday, Tuesday, and Thursday from 6 p.m. until dark. The courts are open to use on non-scheduled game times, and you can also rent them for large Bocce Ball parties.

TDRPD provides the balls but you're on your own for merriment — easy to do with a sport famous for its boisterous camaraderie and bountiful food.

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And we should note, after all this complaining, some Italian fare did make its way to the Bocce courts a couple weeks ago. Cathy Riley, who works in the Community Recreation Center administration offices, made stuffed zucchini boats, which we will now call Bocce Bowls, in hopes it sticks. These things were insanely delicious despite the fact they are low in calories, fat and carbohydrates.

Yes, Cathy knows her Italian. Her mom's maiden name: Rose Mary Ciarleglio (pronounced "Char-leg-lio"). The family used to own an Italian eatery in Lincoln, New England, affectionately called "Chigs." Need we say more? This recipe belongs on a Bocce Ball potluck table. Get with the program Bocce! Do you want to be the only sport without a snack mascot? And yes, Cracker Jack's is taken.

This column comes courtesy of Truckee Donner Recreation & Park District staff and members, inspiring creative, active lives for a healthy mountain community. For more information on how you can stay in shape this summer visit tdrpd.org or check out our Facebook page at http://www.facebook.com/TDRPD.

Ingredients

3 zucchini, cut lengthwise

Olive oil based non-stick cooking spray

1/2 cup chicken broth (Yes. Better Than Bouillon Chicken. Again.)

12 slices of deli ham

1/2 onion, chopped

12 mushrooms, sliced

1 tbls crushed garlic

1 tbls Italian seasoning

1/3 cup Safeway Select marina sauce or other tomato sauce with low sugar (6 grams or less)

1/2 cup shredded low-fat mozzarella

Parmesan cheese in green shaker container

Preparation: Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Using a spoon (hold it upside down) scoop out the meat of the zucchini, leaving the shell or “boat.” It’s OK to leave some zucchini in the boat. Chop up the scooped-out zucchini and set aside. In a good-sized skillet, heat half of the chicken broth. Add garlic and Italian seasoning and stir until aromatic. Add onions and chopped zucchini and cook until transparent. Add more broth and mushrooms. Stir and cook until mushrooms are tender, but not super limp.

Set aside to cool. Spray your zucchini boats all over with olive oil spray, and put it in 9×13-inch baking dish. Line each the boats with two slices ham. Top evenly with sautéed mushrooms etc. Bake uncovered for 30 minutes. Remove from oven. Top each boat with tomato sauce and shredded cheese. Sprinkle on some grated Parmesan. Return to oven for 10 more minutes. Remove and let sit about 10 minutes before serving.