Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Quinoa Stuffed Zucchini

I've been wanting to make a stuffed dish for a very long time but always hesitated because it seemed like so much work! My overwhelming desire to try to make something with the amazing purported "gold of the Incas" supergrain we know as Quinoa finally led me to peruse an extensive selection of zucchini stuffed dishes scattered all over the internet. I got a few pointers and then went with the ingredients I know and love the best. I'm thrilled beyond belief with how delicious this turned out and I'm glad I have this blog to record it on so I'll have a reference for the next time I want to make it! That's actually one of the main reasons I'm doing this blog -- it's because my DD's have complained over and over to me that I never make the same recipe twice and of course they are right. I never ever wrote anything down before but having a blog forces one to do this and now even I will know how to duplicate this gift from the quinoa gods next time the mood hits. So now, get your chef's knife sharpened and let's get chopping!

1 onion
2 cloves garlic
1 stalk bok choy or celery
few sprigs parsley
175 gm crumbled extra firm tofu
1 can plum tomatoes, drained (save sauce)
3 medium size zucchini (halved & scooped out)
1-1/2 cups cooked quinoa
sage (1/2 teaspoon)
chili powder & garlic powder (to taste)
veggie broth powder -- about 2 teaspoons
paul bragg -- a few shakes

Pre-cook quinoa -- you'll need 1-1/2 cups cooked for this recipe. One cup raw quinoa will give you approximately 4 cups of lightly packed cooked quinoa. Freeze the leftover or just cook up 1/2 cup of raw if you don't want much leftover. I'm going to recommend Bob's Red Mill Organic Quinoa here as it's vacuum packed and gives an expiry date. For Quinoa I would hesitate to buy bulk as I've had some bad experiences where it doesn't taste as fresh as it should. Also, Bob's is totally pre-washed so you don't have to worry about rinsing and rinsing to remove the natural bitter coating that quinoa has if this has not been done for you. Once you remove it from the vacuum sealed package I would recommend putting into the fridge or freezer to keep it as fresh as possible.

Wash your zucchini (buy organic if you can as you'll be eating the peel). Dry, slice in half length wise and using a small spoon scoop out the zucchini pulp leaving a 1/4 inch rim around the perimeter. These will be your small zucchini boats that you will be stuffing so don't scrape too hard and leave enough attached so they will be sturdy enough once cooked. Use the pulp from 3 halves of the zucchini for your stuffing and put the other half aside for the "side vegetable dish" recipe below.

Turn your oven to 375F. Lightly grease your baking pan (I used 9x13 glass pyrex dish). Put in a thin layer of some of your leftover tomato sauce -- save a bit to baste over zucchini boats if desired.

Chop everything - the onion, garlic, zucchini, parsley, garlic, stalk bok choy very nice and fine. After all these are small zucchini boats :) Add the spices you are using. Saute everything in a tablespoon or two of olive oil until slightly softened. Now crumble in the tofu and continue to saute until everything is lightly cooked. Drain your plum tomatoes and chop them finely and stir through your veggie/tofu mixture. Stir in your 1-1/2 cups cooked quinoa. Check and adjust seasonings as required. Spoon mixture into zucchini shells. Place into prepared baking pan. Bake for 20 minutes. Check on it at this point -- if bottom is drying out too much add a few teaspoons of water or sauce. Also baste a little tomato sauce on top of zucchini if you like. Cover pan with lid or foil. Reduce oven temperature to 350F. Cook another 15 minutes. Check to see if it's tender (pierce with knife or fork). Uncover and let bake for another 5 minutes or so. Remove from oven. It will probably require two flippers to successfully transfer zucchini from baking dish to plate! If it seems too fragile just cut in half and it will be much easier. A bit of a fussy recipe but well worth the fuss. It got a two thumbs up from my faithful testers!

p.s. If you are on the saucy side, like me, you can whip up a small batch of our old faithful semi-cheesy white sauce (made with 1 tablespoon of E.B. margarine, 2 tablespoons flour,and about 1-1/4 - 1-1/2 cup plain soy milk, garlic/parsley powder, 1-1/2 tablespoons nutritional yeast, splash of paul bragg or salt and pepper, if desired). Please note: this sauce is not a must -- the dish stands well on it's own but I was in the mood to try it with a bit of topping the second go around. It's good both ways.

Side of Vegetables
2 medium size potatoes - sliced in rounds;then cut into strips
2 medium size carrots, grated medium side grater
leftover zucchini from above - cut into kinda strips - of course it's been spooned out but just do the best you can with it.
1/2 cup frozen peas
toss with 1 tablespoon of olive oil and a few shakes
of garlic powder & dried parsley plus chili powder

Put into 8x8 glass pan, and cook alongside your stuffed zucchini. Will take approximately the same amount of time to cook. The trick to the quicker cooking is to cut all veggies in the manner I've outlined above. Zucchini is an easy vegetable and gets along well with others so throwing our leftovers in with a few old favorites makes for a tasty side dish. A lot of flavor for so little effort!

Quinoa 101
Typically classified as a grain it is in fact a vegetable seed distantly related to beets, spinach and swiss chard! Obviously it's gene pool comes from the super heroes of highly nutritious food. It's so magnificent that the NASA space program is considering it as a staple food for their long-term space missions. Here's a few quick stats:

*higher in protein than any other grain: quinoa is 16% protein. As a comparison rice is 7.5% protein.
*contains all of the essential amino acids, making it a "complete protein,"
*a good source of dietary fiber
*rich in E and B vitamins
*high in minerals including calcium, iron, copper, phosphorus, magnesium and manganese

It's also purported to be very beneficial for migraine sufferers as the magnesium found in quinoa is helpful for relaxing the blood vessels. It's low in fat, high in fibre and gluten free. Bring on the quinoa. Two cups of quinoa seed cooked in four cups of water results in eight fluffy cups of the stuff! That's what I cooked up this morning as I needed 1-1/2 cups for my recipe above and wanted some leftover to stash in the freezer for a rainy day.


1 comment:

  1. This was tasty, filling and elegant. (Well, maybe the croquettes helped to fill me up as well.)