|Veg4Health.com Newsletters Monthly Specials My Blog Contact Us Subscribe|
Subscribe to Our FREE Newsletter
Step-by-Step Stuffed Zucchini
When we first started trying to eat more fruits and vegetables I was completely lost. I had grown up
in a house where our vegetables came out of a can and I had never even seen most types of fresh vegetables. This zucchini dish is one of the first items we tried, and it is still one of our favorites. It has the feel of a main dish although I have it listed under vegetable recipes.
Start with the basics - an onion, tomato, sweet bell pepper and some zucchini. This dish is fairly forgiving so if your zucchini has gotten a day or two beyond its peak, it will still work fine in this recipe.
Peeling an onion is always such great fun. Sometimes I cut off a piece and then peel it, but today I decided to peel the whole onion. Everyone has a favorite way of peeling an onion. I simply cut off the top and bottom, make a slice through the skin and use my fingers to peel.
A nice moist and fresh onion should peel very easily. If your onion is a little older and drier,
it will take a little more work with the knife to get it done.
Since I am only stuffing 3 zucchini, I am using only about 1/4 of the medium onion.
Dice the onion up. This is typically when my children leave the room. I like a nice strong onion and
it takes a lot to get my eyes to tear up - but my children bail out everytime I go near a raw onion.
(Perhaps they use it as an excuse to get out of helping!)
Remember, chopped onion is a little bigger than diced onions. If I was stuffing something larger than a zucchini, I wouldn't mind slightly bigger onion pieces. But the zucchini is fairly narrow and little onion dices work best.
Every cook's dilemma is what to do with the leftover onion so that it stays fresh and doesn't make the whole refrigerator and crisper smell like an onion. I have found a nice piece of aluminum foil works best.
Simply wrap up the onion, making sure it is fully covered, and your onion will stay strong
and your refrigerator will stay sweet.
We'll only need a half of a sweet bell pepper with 3 zucchini. I like red, yellow or orange peppers the best. Green peppers are a little strong for my digestive system so I use them more in chili dishes or for stuffed peppers. I also like to use a variety of colors when cooking and since the zucchini is green, the tomato is red and the onion is white, I decided to use a nice orange pepper. Any color will do! Remember to dice the pepper from the inside out. The outside skin can be a little tough for the knife to make it's initial cut. So I turn my pepper half cut side up and chop from the inside out.
Dice the bell pepper. Again, I like a nice small pepper piece to balance out the other sizes and textures.
Add the pepper and onion and a little bit of water to a saute pan. You can use oil, but why waste the calories? The flame or stove top should be set at a medium to medium high level. We are going to saute,
not blacken the pepper and onion.
Add a minced garlic clove or two to the saute pan. (Oops, I forgot to include that in my original picture didn't I?) Here I am mincing fresh garlic cloves, but bottled minced garlic will work just fine.
While the peppers, onions and garlic are sauteeing, grab that lovely tomato and get it ready. Notice my tomato has a little bad spot up at the top. The only perfect tomatoes are generally the ones not worth eating. Either they have been overly sprayed with pesticide, or refrigerated - which ruins the tomato. Don't be shy about using not so perfect produce. The top of the tomato is going to be discarded anyway.
Simply make sure to remove the soft spot before dicing the tomato.
Remove the top and very bottom part of the tomato and slice in half. This is just the way I like to tackle my tomatoes. Everyone has their own way, but it seems to work pretty good to chop a tomato half rather than try to dice it while it is still rolling around on the cutting board.
Dice the tomato into comparable size of the onion and pepper. Notice that I did not remove the skin of the tomato. If I were going to cook the tomato for a long time or use it in a creamy sauce, I would probably remove the skin first. As the tomato heats, the skin will separate from the body of the tomato leaving lots of strange stringy skins in your dish. In this dish, the skins left on work just fine.
My tomato is diced and it's time to check back on the peppers and onions. They are sauteeing nicely. If yours have gone a little dry, then simply add a little more water along the way. Sometimes I like to let mine get a little dry - it tends to almost carmelize the peppers and onions.
Once the peppers and onions have softened up it is time to add the diced tomato. The peppers and onions will soften up in about 5 minutes. There is no exact science to all of this - at least not in my house. Use your best judgement. If you like things a little crisper, then don't let them cook as long. Modify the recipes to fit your tastes! Toss the mixture and continue to let the ingredients saute over medium heat.
Time to add a little bit of Italian Seasoning. I typically will add about 1 teaspoon of seasoning. Feel free to substitute another seasoning if you don't like this one. Perhaps some cilantro instead?
Sprinkle the seasoning on top of the sauteed vegetables. (Okay, some of you may argue that a tomato is actually a fruit and not a vegetable. Add the seasonings anyway!)
Add a twist or two of salt and pepper if you want. Stir the seasonings in and turn off the heat.
Once the vegetables are soft, it's time to start making the stuffing. I like Grapeseed Oil Vegenaise. I tried quite a few vegan mayonaisses before I settled on this one. None of the other ones can hold a candle to this one - at least with my tastebuds. Feel free to use any mayonaisse type product that you like.
I can't bring myself to actually measure the veganaise. Perhaps I don't really want to know how much I am adding. As you can see from the spoon, I use about 1/4 cup of veganaise. (That's only 4 tablespoons and it will feed the whole family. Remember I water sauteed so I could use the calories to be a little more generous with the veganaise.) Make sure to thoroughly stir in the veganaise.
Now, it's time to add some great whole wheat bread crumbs. If you can't find whole wheat bread crumbs, use what you have. (I make my own bread crumbs from the little leftover pieces of bread from our loaves. I simply let them sit out until they are nice and stiff, and then throw them in my Vitamix or food processor. Not only are they quite inexpensive when you make them yourself, but they also don't have a lot of other chemicals in them like the store bought ones do. It also makes me feel quite thrifty to actually use our bread crusts.) As you can see, I have measured out about 1/2 cup of bread crumbs. Depending on how wet your sauteed vegetables are, and how much veganaise you added to them, you may or may not need this many bread crumbs.
Notice that I am not just dumping the whole measure of bread crumbs into the mixture. I add them a spoonful at a time to make sure I get the texture of the stuffing just like we like it.
Mix all of the ingredients well and then set it aside. Remember, you have turned off the heat underneath
it so it can sit as long as it takes you to prepare the zucchini.
Slice off the top and bottom of the zucchini. The zucchini should be nice and green and fairly firm. If there happens to be a soft spot, make sure to trim it off before you stuff it.
Slice the zucchini in half lengthwise. Be careful to keep your fingers away from the knife at this point.
Notice how nice and creamy white the inside of the zucchini is. It has more flesh and less water
than a cucumber but it does resemble a cuke.
With a regular spoon, scrape out the insides of the zucchini. Simply turning the spoon
upside down works quite well to scrape out the seeds.
Be sure not to scrape out too much. You want to leave about 1/4 inch of zucchini all the way around.
If you scrape out too little, there is no room for your stuffing. If you scrape out too much and
there is nothing left to hold your stuffing.
What you are left with is a great vehicle for holding all of that wonderful stuffing.
(Discard the seeds and flesh that have been removed. )
Place the zucchini shells in a baking pan. Mine most often fit quite nicely in a 13x9x2 pan.
For easier clean-up, you can spray the pan first or line it with either parchment paper or aluminum foil.
This dish does not give off a lot of liquid while cooking.
It's time now to start stuffing the shells. I simply "eyeball" the amount of stuffing that I have and visually
divide it into 6 equal parts. Notice some zucchini boats are slightly larger and will hold a little more stuffing than other ones will. There's no science here, just stuff until the stuffing is gone and fairly evenly distributed between all of the shells.
All of the stuffing has been stuffed and we are almost ready to put them in a 350 degreee oven.
I like to top my stuffed zucchinis with a little toppng. We like this Vegan Parmesan-style "cheese".
If I don't have that on hand, I will use a little sprinkle or two of grated vegan cheddar style "cheese".
The parmesan style product goes a little better with the Italian Seasonings, and the cheddar goes a little
better if you use cilantro instead of the Italian spices.
The topping has been sprinkled and we're ready to put them in the preheated oven. There is no need to cover this dish while baking. Covering it will make the zucchini a little too soft and soggy for my taste.
After baking them for about 35 minutes, the zucchini boats should be fork tender
and the stuffing nice and lightly browned.
This night, we added saucy creamer potaotes and spinach with raisins and pine nutsalong side the zucchini. Wow! I love my own cooking! This night's dinner was an exceptionally good one. Normally I make one item to please everyone, but tonight I loved them all. My kids loved the potatoes best, my husband loved the spinach best, my mother-in-law liked the zucchini best - and I just loved them all!
Healthy eating just doesn't get any better than this!
For more picture recipes, click here.
Healthy Eating | Healthy Recipes All
"Wisdom From the Kitchen" | Veg4Health.com Melbourne Florida