Zucchini is plentiful and cheap almost year round in this part of the world and it also has a great nutritional profile beinglow in kilojoules and high in Vitamin C, manganese and phytonutrients.
This mean zucchini is on my weekly must-buy list and although I use it often, I do tend to use it in the same way in the same recipes. So I decided to try something new and give stuffed baked zucchini a go. I thought it would pair well with some of my favourite Italian flavours - and it did!
Keeping pre-cooked quinoa in the freezer makes these types of meals easy to whip up for a tasty lunch or an easy side dish for dinner. You could easily substitute the quinoa for cous cous if you were looking for another quick alternative. I made the stuffed zucchinis in 20 mins, and then while they were cooking I got the boy's lunch organised.
Make sure you use a hot oven so you don't have to cook the zucchini for too long. Zucchini has a high water content and so can easily turn to mush.
Crank the grill at the end of the 20-25 minute cooking time to brown the bocconcini and make the quinoa nice and crispy. I could have let mine brown a little more but I was too hungry! Promise me you will scoop up the crispy, cheesy bits and eat them straight from the pan - cook's privilege :)
Recipe: Italian Stuffed ZucchiniIngredients:
2 medium zucchinis
Small glug of olive oil
1/4 small brown onion, finely diced
1 small garlic clove, finely chopped
1/2 - 1 cup cooked quinoa
2 tbsp tinned cannellini beans
1 fire-roasted red pepper (from a jar), chopped
2 tbsp sun dried tomato, chopped
Small handful of baby spinach leaves
1 tbsp fresh Italian herbs (oregano, basil or parsley), finely diced
1 bocconcini ball, sliced and quartered
Heat oven to 200 degrees.
Cut zucchinis in half length-wise. Use a spoon to scoop out the flesh and seeds. Scoring the zucchini with a knife first can make it easier to remove the flesh. Set the zucchini flesh aside to use later. Season the zucchini with salt and pepper. Place the zucchini on a baking tray prepared with a quick spray of oil.
Add the olive oil to the fry pan and saute the onion and garlic over a medium heat for a few minutes until soft. Add the cooked quinoa and cook for 1-2 minutes.
Add the zucchini flesh, cannellini beans, red pepper, sundried tomato, spinach leaves and your herb of choice to heat through.
Scoop the filing into the prepared zucchini and top with the bocconcini.
Cook for 20-25 minutes until the top has browned but the zucchini still has some bite and serve immediately.