Posting this now is pushing it for zucchini season, but I couldn’t help but share one last summer vegetable recipe before getting ready for another long and cold NYC winter. This dish was inspired by the semester I spent abroad in Santiago, Chile during college. I lived with a family the entire time, and the mom, Eli, made amazing meals every day for lunch (dinner was just a tecito – tea and toast). I was supposedly vegetarian at the time, but I was warned by the program directors before the trip that in Chile they didn’t really “get” vegetarianism. I learned that they weren’t kidding about this when I was served spaghetti one day with a meat sauce…I politely asked if that was ground beef I saw, and was told, si, pero solo es un poquito (yes, but just a little bit). I decided to eat it and leave the vegetarianism on hold for the months while I was there; I figured it would be too hard to explain to everybody the concept of no meat (oh but you eat chicken, right? No??? But fish, right? Tampoco??!?), and just enjoy the food and the time I had there. Thank goodness I did or I would have missed out on some of Eli’s dishes, including her stuffed zucchinis (and her empanadas…hopefully a veganized recipe for those will be coming soon when she visits me next month!). When I got back to Los Angeles (I was at UCLA at the time), I got to work on coming up with a vegetarian version of these zucchinis. My recipe has changed over the years, and I managed to get out all the dairy I once used, although they are pretty good with some cheese, such as Asiago, melted on top.
- 1 tbsp olive oil
- 4-5 medium zucchinis, halved lengthwise
- One small sweet white onion, chopped
- 2 – 3 cloves garlic, minced
- 1 tsp of a couple spices each, such as tarragon, thyme, or basil. Or try fresh spice if you have some on hand.
- 1/2 cup white wine
- Couple handfuls shiitake mushrooms (about 8-10), hard stems removed and chopped
- 1/2 cup nutritional yeast
- 1/2 cup uncooked quinoa, rinsed well
- 1/2 tsp salt, or to taste
- Freshly ground pepper
- 1 tbsp lemon juice
- 1 tsp lemon zest (optional)
- Cheese for melting on top (optional)
Preheat oven to 350°.
Make the Quinoa:
Wash quinoa well. Place with one cup of water in a pot and bring to a boil. Cover and cook on low/medium heat until all the water is absorbed, about 15 minutes. Set aside.
Bake the zucchinis:
Line baking sheet with foil. Cut the zucchinis lengthwise and drizzle cut side with a little olive oil. Bake, skin side down, for 7 minutes. Flip and cook for 5 additional minutes. Take out of oven and cool. Once cooled, scoop out insides with a spoon, chop the scooped out flesh into small pieces and set aside.
Make the filling:
Heat olive oil over medium heat. Add onions and cook until softened, about 5 minutes. Add garlic and cook for about 30 seconds, until fragrant. Add wine and let the alcohol cook off, for about 3-5 minutes. Add shiitakes and chopped up zucchini flesh. Saute for about 8-10 minutes. Add whatever spices you are using and salt. Turn off heat, add nutritional yeast and quinoa, and mix well. Add lemon juice, zest and freshly ground pepper.
Add filling to each of the zucchini boats. Top with cheese if you like, and bake for about 25 minutes.