Quinoa Stuffed Zucchini

My friend Alisa was in town from Finland (yes, the country) last week for a few days. She’s a friend from high school – and was one of my bridesmaids – and I hadn’t seen her since my wedding more than a year ago! Trips back from Finland are hard to make – it’s expensive and long – so Alisa doesn’t get to make it back to the U.S.  to see her family in NY often. That’s why I was excited to hear she was going to make the trip not only to the U.S., but also from NY to Cleveland with her boyfriend to see me!

It was a quick trip – and during the week, so I was working during the day – but I’m so glad I got to see Alisa and meet her boyfriend Jiri. We planned a few fun Cleveland activities for them – local food, visiting the lake, checking out the public library, taking the bus to University Circle to see the art museum – to see the city. We ate dinner at Greenhouse Tavern one night (Alisa and Jiri are very into Farm to Fork, local food, etc.), but the second night Jiri requested something American – steak! So I tried to think of a fun side dish to serve with our steak and mashed potato dinner that B was making, that was also gluten free, since Jiri had just started a GF diet.

I found it! This recipe had shown up in one of my daily Real Simple emails and I had printed it out to try sometime – and although it doesn’t shout “serve me with steak and potatoes,” I did. And it was great! It was also great leftover with my lunch the next day.

quinoa stuffed zucchini (gluten free and vegetarian)

Quinoa Stuffed Zucchini (slightly modified from Real Simple)

The original recipe says one serving is one zucchini – if this is your meal, I’d agree, otherwise a half a zucchini will serve perfectly as an accompaniment to a main dish. Yields 8 half stuffed zucchinis.

Here’s what you need:

  • ½ cup quinoa
  •  4 medium zucchini
  • 1 15-ounce can cannellini beans or chick peas
  • 1 cup grape or cherry tomatoes, quartered
  • ½ c pine nuts (original recipe called for chopped almonds, but I only had pine nuts on hand) 
  • 2 cloves garlic, chopped
  • ½ c diced onion
  • ¾ c grated parmesan cheese
  • 4 tbs olive oil

Here’s what you do:

  1. Pre-heat oven to 400° F.
  2. Cook quinoa according to directions. (you’ll probably need to combine quinoa with 1 c. water and bring to a boil in a saucepan. Once boiled, reduce heat to medium-low, cover, and simmer for about 13-15 minutes or until water is absorbed and quinoa is soft. 
  3. While quinoa is cooking, cut zucchini in half lengthwise and remove the seeds. Assemble zucchini halves in a large baking dish, skin side down and cut side up.
  4. Quarter cherry tomatoes, chop garlic and dice onion.
  5. After the quinoa is cooked, fluff it with a fork. Mix in the canned beans, cut tomatoes, pine nuts, chopped garlic and diced onion.
  6. Add in ½ c of the parmesan cheese and 3 tbs of the oil.
  7. Spoon the quinoa mixture into the zucchini.
  8. Top the zucchini with the rest of the oil and parmesan cheese.
  9. Cover baking dish with foil and bake 25-30 minutes, or until zucchini is tender to a fork. Remove foil and bake for an additional 8-10 minutes until the top is slightly golden. 
ALISA

Alisa and I cooked dinner together!

coring zucchini

Alisa cut the zucchini and removed their seeds, making little zucchini boats

I made the quinoa and chopped the veggies to mix in

I made the quinoa and chopped the veggies to mix in

zucchini mixing filling

yummy quinoa/bean/vegetable mixture

Serving suggestion: two halves (one whole zucchini) for vegetarian meal, or as a side to a meat-friendly meal

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