It’s been a couple of weeks since I’ve posted anything. January is one of the most hectic months for me. Most of my days have involved lots of numbers, too much paperwork, and just basically, trying to pack away twenty-thirteen and start a fresh new year.
But…in between all of that…I made this. Twice. In one week.
There’s just so much I love about this dish. Aside from how delicious it is, this meal is super healthy, easy to make, and can be prepared in advance and baked a day or even two later. Zucchini has a high water content, making it low in calories. So, once you stuff it with some flavorful veggies and the protein rich superfood quinoa, top with just a bit of mozzarella…you’ve got an amazing healthy meal. This is a light dish, so I serve it with a nice big salad or a bowl of hot soup.
Vegetable and Quinoa Stuffed Zucchini
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 medium onion, finely diced
1 medium red pepper, finely diced
2 Roma tomatoes or 1/2 C. grape tomatoes, finely diced
6 medium zucchini, halved lengthwise
1 – 2 sprigs fresh thyme leaves
salt and pepper to taste
1 cup baby spinach leaves, chopped
1 cup cooked red quinoa
3 – 4 large fresh basil leaves, torn
1 tablespoon Parmesan, grated (optional)
1/2 cup mozzarella, grated
In a 12″ skillet over medium high heat, add the olive oil, onion and red pepper. Reduce the heat to medium and sauté just until the onion softens a bit.
While you wait for the onions to soften, scoop just a bit of each zucchini out with a round scoop (or use a round measuring spoon). Chop the scooped bits up into a small dice put the zucchini aside.
Add the tomato, zucchini bits, thyme leaves and some salt and pepper to the pan. Continue to sauté for another couple of minutes. Add the spinach and stir until the spinach wilts down.
Remove the pan from the heat and add the cooked quinoa and sprinkle with some fresh basil leaves. Add the Parmesan if using. Stir to combine and set aside.
Preheat your oven to 375 degrees.
Line a baking sheet with foil or parchment for easy clean up. Arrange the zucchini on the sheet. Using a small spoon (I use a regular teaspoon) divide the mixture between all of the zucchini. Cover the baking sheet with foil. You can refrigerate at this point up to a couple of days if you’d like to serve it later. Otherwise, place the sheet in the oven and bake for 30 minutes, covered.
After 30 minutes, uncover and top each zucchini with some mozzarella. Place the sheet back in the oven and bake for another 10 minutes. If you’d like a browner top, raise the rack in the oven to the highest spot.
Remove from the oven and serve.
- To yield one cup of cooked quinoa, cook 1/3 cup of dry quinoa in about 2/3 cup of water. I like to prepare a whole pot of quinoa (1 cup quinoa in 2 cups of water. It will yield 3 cups cooked). I love having cooked quinoa in the fridge. Use it as breakfast with vanilla almond milk and some fruit, warm it up and top it with an egg or add it to some sautéed veggies as a great side dish with dinner or for lunch! Quinoa is pretty awesome!
- I love red quinoa. I use it most. I think the red quinoa is just a bit less bitter. Another trick to using quinoa is to rinse it in a fine mesh sieve before cooking. That removes the saponins that can cause that bitter taste.
- I cover the zucchini while baking because if you don’t, the quinoa will get a bit crunchy.
- If you’d like, you can try topping this dish with a bit of a light marinara sauce!
- If you love this dish, you won’t want to miss my Vegetable Stuffed Portabella Mushrooms!
- To keep this vegan, eliminate the Parmesan and mozzarella. Use vegan substitutes if you’d like.