Another recipe to celebrate National Farmers Market Week! One great thing about this recipe is that it uses up one of the underappreciated treasures of farmers markets (and many backyard gardens): the zucchini! Every week at the farmers market, I'm always blown away by the sheer volume of zucchini (and all of the other many varieties of squash) and how affordable they are. You can sauté it, grill it, broil it, make bread from it, you can make a salad with it (I cannot recommend this zucchini salad recipe enough!) – and yep, you can stuff it.
This recipe isn't set in stone – I know that I make it a different way every time. Skip the quinoa and use sausage instead for an especially hearty version. Or go meatless and use mushrooms. Use French herbs one time and Mexican spices the next. In any case, I always end up with more stuffing than I need for the zucchini. Not a problem; it's good in omelettes, tossed with some salad to make a meal, or mixed with cooked pasta.
2 large zucchini (or more small ones, depending on size)
2 tablespoons olive oil
½ cup diced onion
3 cloves garlic, minced
A few shakes of red pepper flakes (optional)
1 pound ground beef or turkey
¼ cup dry white wine or dry vermouth
1 tomato, diced
½ cup uncooked quinoa
¾ cup water or broth
4 tablespoons chopped fresh basil
1 tablespoon chopped fresh rosemary
Salt & Pepper
¾ cup grated Parmesan cheese
0. Preheat oven to 375 degrees.
1. Cut zucchini in half lengthwise and scoop out insides with a spoon or melon baller. Leave enough inside to make it sturdy enough to hold together. Chop the scooped-out zucchini insides and set aside.
2. Heat 1-2 tablespoons olive oil in a large skillet (you'll need a cover – you could also use a Dutch Oven or other large pot) on medium-high heat. Sauté onion and zucchini until onion is soft, about 4-5 minutes. Add garlic and red pepper flakes, if using.
3. When garlic is fragrant, add beef or turkey and cook until lightly browned. Drain grease if excessive.
4. Add wine or vermouth, scraping any delicious bits off the bottom of the pan.
5. Reduce heat to medium and add tomato and cook for 1 minute.
6. Add quinoa and stir through. Add water or broth and increase heat to bring to a boil. Cover and reduce to a simmer. Cook, stirring occasionally, for 10-15 minutes until quinoa is cooked and has absorbed liquid (if quinoa is cooked, but there's still a lot of liquid, uncover and wait for liquid to evaporate).
7. Stir in basil and rosemary. Off-heat, stir through ½ cup of the cheese. Fill each zucchini shell with the mixture. When full, spread mustard on top and cover with remaining cheese.
8. Fill a baking pan with ¼ inch of water and place the filled zucchini in the water (it'll ensure they don't dry out) and bake for 30-40 minutes, or until tops are golden brown and zucchini is cooked through.
Photo "Cucurbita pepo" courtesy of Wikimedia Commons.