Quinoa!! And Zucchini Stuffed with It
The other night I was faced with a couple problems.
1. We needed to make something healthy for dinner and 2. I had a few beautiful zucchini left over from making zucchini bread…I WAY overbought. I hate wasting food, but zucchini isn’t something either of us totally loves when not in bread or mixed with other very flavorful ingredients.
I also was really in the mood for quinoa, which is something I’d never cooked with but had just enjoyed immensely while visiting our friends Kristan and Justin in DC—they use it ALL the time. Kristan whipped up a quinoa, cucumber, and mango dish that was totally yum, tasting like health in a bowl.
I’d had quinoa before, but still couldn’t get it through my head the fluffy rice-like grain is a actually a protein, not a starch. It just feels wrong, but tastes so right. So I couldn’t help but think there was a way to put the quinoa goodness INTO the zucchini. And sure enough, after two seconds of Googling “quinoa stuffed zucchini”, a recipe from Real Simple Magazine popped up.
I LOVE Real Simple. They have great recipes. So I decided to give this one a whirl. Although right off the bat, I could see a few things were missing. An onion. Broth in place of water. More filling, less zucchini. So I made some adjustments and ended up with the yummiest most favoritist meal of the summer.
We’ve been using quinoa in other things too, namely salads. Instead of grilling chicken or using tuna, I’ll quickly simmer some quinoa with broth and use that to top our greens. Slightly warm quinoa with fresh spring mix and crunchy veggies? Some blue cheese crumbles? Delish and so so healthy.
And here’s my attempt to photograph something extremely difficult to photograph…zucchini just doesn’t love the camera…
Anyway, I thought I’d share the adjusted recipe. It takes all of 15 minutes to put together with quite an impressive result. Hope you like!
Quinoa Stuffed Zucchini
adapted from Real Simple Magazine
1 yellow onion, chopped
4-5 cloves garlic, chopped
1/2 cup quinoa, rinsed
1 cup chicken or vegetable broth
3 medium zucchini
1 15-ounce can cannellini beans, rinsed
1 cup grape tomatoes, halved or quartered
1/2 cup sliced almonds
3/4 cup grated parmesan (or as much as you want)
3-4 tablespoons olive oil
Spray olive oil
Heat your oven to 400 and get a large sauté pan. Get 1-2 tablespoons of olive oil in the pan and, once hot, toss in the chopped onion. When the onion is nice and soft, add the garlic for just a couple minutes, stirring often. In goes the rinsed quinoa and cup of broth. Stir it up, bring it to a boil, throw on a lid, and lower the heat to a simmer. In about 10-12 minutes the quinoa will have absorbed all of the broth.
**WATCH the quinoa at this point. Don’t get all over-confident and start talking on the phone or writing on your blog (lesson learned) or you will surely burn the crap out of this stuff. It absorbs that broth faster than you’d think. (If burning does occur, you may be able to use the quinoa not blackened to the bottom of your pan. If it doesn’t taste too campfire-like.)
Do take two minutes to halve and scrape out the centers of the zucchinis. I use a measuring spoon to cut out all the seeds and soft center—you want as much out as possible without drilling holes in the skin, because the filling is so delicious. Place the emptied zucchinis in a oven save dish, cut side up.
Once broth is absorbed, quinoa all fluffy and fragrant, add the beans, tomatoes, almonds, handful of parmesan, and a little drizzle of olive oil, about 1-2 tablespoons. Toss this around till mixed well. I also add a dash of salt and pepper at this point.
Fill each of those zucchini boats with as much filling as they will bear…trust me you will want ever morsel of the quinoa heaven. Sprinkle some (or a lot) of parm on the tops of each boat, hose everything with spray oil, cover with foil, and pop in the oven.
Proceed to eating any remaining filling out of the pan with fingers (if no spoon is in the immediate vicinity). The pop of those sweet tomatoes and crunch of the almonds will make you wonder why it’s even necessary to bake! It could be a dish in itself.
After about 25 or 30 minutes take the foil off the dish. Your zucchini should be fork tender and roasty. Keep baking the uncovered dish until everything has a lovely golden hue…about 10 minutes.
So I’ve served these stuffed zucchini with a green salad, roasted brussels sprouts, or just steamed veg. It doesn’t matter, you will feel like a rockstar eating the most healthy dinner ever. This is right up there with the roasted vegetable minestrone when it comes to stuffing your body with good…stuff.
What is your favorite quinoa recipe? Gimme gimme, I love this stuff.