Quinoa Stuffed Zucchini



Where have I been having vanished with the summer?
Sheltering from the rain, I’d replaced my passé front yard with an edible garden.
I tried my luck with a few heirloom seeds and a few more old stand-by vegetables.
Summer may have squeaked by, but not without leaving me with a few baseball bat sized zucchinis.

I took company coming as the perfect opportunity to eat up the biggest one.  Of course there were cakes and something savoury for lunch as well.

We managed to eat half. (That was even with seconds!)

QUINOA STUFFED ZUCCHINI

1 Tablespoon Oil
1 Shallot, minced
2 Cloves Garlic, minced
1 Cup Red Quinoa
1 Large Zucchini, very large in my case
1 Cup Yellow Pear Tomatoes
A big handful of herbs of your choice. I used mostly basil, some parsley and thyme, finely chopped
salt+pepper

Rinse the quinoa well and leave it to soak in a mesh colander for about 3 minutes.
Combine the drained quinoa with 2 cups of boiling water in a medium saucepan.
Cover and reduce to a simmer for about 7 minutes.
Lift the lid and check in on the quinoa. The water should be mostly absorbed and appear fluffy. If not, cover again and continue to cook for a couple of minutes more.
Once the water has been absorbed, fluff with a fork and leave it to cool while you prepare the remainder of the stuffing.
Preheat the oven to 350ºF.
In a large frying pan, heat the oil and sauté the shallots. Once they’ve softened, add the garlic but be careful not to burn it.
Half the zucchini lengthwise and remove the seeds. Trim the ends and remove the bottom of one half just so it will sit without toppling over. Dice the other half until you’ve measured 2 Cups. (If there’s still some left, here’s a recipe for scones.)
Add the chopped zucchini to the shallots and continue to sauté until it’s softened.
Slice the tomatoes and add them to the zucchini.
Remove from the heat and add the prepared quinoa and chopped herbs.
Combine well and add a good amount of salt and freshly ground pepper to taste.
Place the seeded, trimmed zucchini half in a baking dish which has been lightly oiled.
Pack the stuffing into the crevice. Drizzle with olive oil and cover lightly with foil.
Bake for approximately 1 hour or depending on your zucchini’s size and thickness, until it’s tender. (Begin checking at 40 minutes if it’s more of a slender forearm size:)

A Sucker for Babies.


Spring means babies and like the title states, I’m the sucker. I see, little, fresh veggies and new and I have to cook them up – in magnitude…

I couldn’t resist, when last time at the market I spotted these miniature marvels.
Love ’em or not, these adorable eggplants were destined for my grocery bag.

I’m sure that eggplants are much more popular in other areas other than my own dining room, but I serve them up anyway, eggplant caviar, parmigiana, grilled or stuffed like these, they are relatively simple to prepare and dazzling on a plate on their own or shrunken to side dish.

STUFFED BABY EGGPLANT

1 Tablespoon Olive Oil, plus more for drizzling over eggplants
1 Leek, white & light green parts, finely chopped
3 Cloves Garlic, minced
1 28 oz can Puréed Tomatoes
1/2 Cup Arborio Rice
1/4 Cup Red Wine
1 – 1 1/2 Cups Vegetable Stock, amount will depend on cooking temp and absorption
1/4 teaspoon Salt
Freshly Ground Black Pepper, to taste
5-6 Fresh Basil Leave, finely chopped
6 Baby Eggplants, halved

Heat the oven to 350ºF.
Half the eggplants lengthwise and score into cubes, without puncturing the skins.
Lightly drizzle with olive oil and roast for about 15 minutes or until tender-firm so the skins are intact but the flesh may be removed, flip the eggplants over cut side down half way through.
Meanwhile, heat the 1 tablespoon of olive oil in a deep sauté pan. Add the finely chopped leek and sauté until it’s translucent.
Add the minced garlic and the rice; stirring well.
Add the wine and cook until it has reduced by 1/3.
Add half of the tomato purée and 1 cup of stock, bringing everything to a simmer and stir frequently.
Carefully scoop the flesh from the roasted eggplants, trying not to puncture the skin, to create a cavity. (It’s o.k if you don’t get every last bit.)
Reserve the skins on a baking sheet for stuffing.
When the liquid has reduced by half, add the remaining tomato purée .
Roughly chop the removed eggplant and add to the rice.
Once the rice is tender, add the salt and pepper to taste.
Finely chop the basil and add, reserving a small amount for garnish.
Stir well, taste and adjust seasoning, if necessary then spoon the filling into the skins.
If you choose, top with a soy mozzarella or if you can use it a nice smoky gouda.
Return the eggplants to the oven and roast for an additional 10 minutes to heat through and melt the cheese.

There will be some filling left over. This recipe will easily accommodate a large eggplant in lieu of the babies, just extend the roasting time of the larger eggplant.