Tuesday, July 3, 2012

Stuffed Zucchini


Recently Raymond's best friend moved from Dallas to Minnesota. We definitely miss hanging out with him, so when was back in town for a few of days to close out his house I excitedly told Raymond to invite him over for dinner one night. Little did it occur to me at the time that since we were out of town the first couple of days he was back, that would mean we were having him over for dinner the very next day as that was his last night in town. For those of you who don't know me that well, I like to have several days to think about the menu, change my mind several times, and go grocery shopping. This time I had the span of about 6 hours to go through this process. I had already planned on making an Italian flank steak and corn on the cob. That would be fine for just Raymond and I, but since his friend was coming over, I felt that I had to come up with something else to go along with dinner. Lucky for me one of my co-workers who is in a CSA and has had trouble keeping up with her produce brought some up to work to share that next day. She had a beautiful zucchini that I quickly snatched up. With that I decided to stuff it to round out our meal. I enjoyed it so much so that I bought some cute little 8 ball squash the next week at the farmers market to stuff for a dinner party that next weekend.

After searching through recipes trying to find ideas for stuffing the zucchini I became increasingly worried about the amount of filler ingredients that were being used. I saw one recipe with 3 cups of breadcrumbs and 2 cups of cheese! That definitely takes the healthy right out of that! I decided to sub out some of the breadcrumbs with quinoa, and use a stronger cheese so that I could use very little. The end result I thought was quite fantastic and the quinoa and eggplant provide enough protein that this could easily be served as a main dish along with a salad for a complete meal. Note this makes a TON of stuffing and can be halved.

3-4 large zucchini or equivalent
1 medium onion, diced
4 cloves of garlic, minced
6oz diced mushrooms
1 diced red bell pepper
1 medium eggplant, diced
2 medium tomatoes, diced
2 Tbsp olive oil
3/4 cup quinoa, dried
1 1/2 cup chicken broth
2 eggs, lightly beaten
3 Tbs tomato paste
1/4 cup Parmesan cheese
1/2 cup fresh breadcrumbs
2 Tbsp fresh breadcrumbs
2 Tbsp Parmesan cheese
2 Tbs Parsley, plus more for garnish
2 Tbs Basil, plus more for garnish

Preheat the oven to 425 degrees.

Dice the eggplant into 1/2” pieces and cover with salt.  Let sit in a colander for 30 min.

Slice the zucchini in half lengthwise. Use a spoon to scoop out the center down to about 1/2″ thickness, reserving the insides. Cut up the reserved zucchini it if it’s not too seedy. If it is, I recommend using another small zucchini for the filling (this is what I did) and cutting it into 1/2″ dice. Put the zucchini halves into a large baking dish.

Dice into 1/2″ pieces the onion, tomatoes, mushrooms, bell peppers. Mince the garlic.

Thoroughly rinse the eggplant.

Toss all of the vegetables, including the reserved zucchini, with the minced garlic, 2 Tbs of olive oil, and salt and pepper.

Spread on a baking sheet and roast until tender, about 15-20 minutes.

Meanwhile rinse the quinoa, bring 1.5 cups of chicken broth to a boil, add in quinoa, lower the heat, and allow to simmer for 15 minutes.  Fluff with a fork.

Remove the veggies from oven, reduce heat to 350, and allow to cool until you can touch it (we’re going to add in the egg next and you don’t want it to cook as soon as it touches the hot vegetables).

In a large bowl, mix together the quinoa and the vegetables. Mix in the beaten egg, ¼ cup Parmesan cheese, ½ cup breadcrumbs, 2 Tbsp. fresh basil, and 2 Tbsp. fresh parsley. Scoop it into the zucchini halves, mounding up the filling.  Top with a sprinkle of breadcrumbs

Cover with foil and seal the edges around the baking dish (this will keep it moist and help steam cook the zucchini). Bake for 45 minutes or until the zucchini is tender (but not mushy!). Remove the foil and turn the oven to broil. Sprinkle the top with grated Parmesan and place it under the broiler for a few minutes until lightly browned. Remove and garnish with more fresh basil.


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