I love stuffed vegetables for its juxtaposition of the fresh, unadulterated veggie “bowl” alongside the flavorful, scrumptuous filling. It’s a yin-yang balance that if done well, tastes bold and pure at the same time.
This time, I decided to try my hand at 2 new ventures: 1. stuffing zucchini and 2. making a recipe using quinoa.
Zucchinis make great stuffed vegetables because of how evenly they cook in the oven. You don’t have to do much to it – a quick brush with olive oil to bring out its mild squash flavor. It’s high water content gives you that satisfying juicy crunch. Also, since they’re oblong shaped, they don’t teeter totter in the oven like peppers and tomatoes, which means you don’t have to worry about your filling spilling out while baking in the oven.
Lately there has been much popularity over Quinoa - a type of 100% whole grain that comes from the seed of a leafy plant. It’s been around for thousands of years and has been widely used by the Incas of South America. Aside from being super-nutritious and gluten free (remember when Top Chef Masters’ Michael Chiarello made a Quinoa-based noodle for the gluten-intolerant Zoe Deschanel?), it has a slightly nutty flavor. And, as I discovered, it beautifully soaks up other flavors you infuse into it. Baking it in the oven for a little bit will also give your zucchini boat a crispy-top filling!
- 4 large zucchinis
- 2 cups quinoa – washed thoroughly
- 4 cups veggie stock
- Tomato Paste
- Dried Basil (for flavoring)
Filling the Boat:
- Cut each zucchini in half, and scoop out the centers to make little “boats”. Brush with olive oil, sprinkle with salt & pepper and set aside
- Cook the Quinoa in stock until it comes to a boil. Lower heat to a simmer until all the stock has been soaked up by the quinoa.
- Add in tomato paste and dried basil leaves to flavor.
- Chop up the tomatoes and and spinach. Add to the Quinoa blend.
- Scoop up the quinoa mixture and carefully fill up the zucchini boats * Note: Don’t be afraid to make the blend extra flavorful, since we’re not doing much to flavor the zucchini itself.
- Bake in the oven at 350 for around 20 min.
- Instead of zucchini, use eggplant, pumpkin, or butternut squash (next on my list to make!)
- Try making boats with (fresh raw) cucumber. Mix in some smashed chickpeas or hummus into the quinoa mixture and serve with some dill yogurt
- Feel free to play around with different filling ingredients - celery, carrots, nuts, mushrooms, raisins
- Give the quinoa blend a twist with soy sauce, peanut dressing, tahini sauce, hummus (as mentioned above), or Worchestershire sauce.