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Nik’s Stuffed Zucchini

Quinoa & Tilapia Stuffed Zucchini
So I think I should stop calling Meatless Friday, Meatless
Friday. It’s sort of misleading. More than once I’ve been told if I eat fish it’s
not a true Meatless Friday and, thinking about it, that’s kind of right. I
think it’s much more a function of my Catholic grandpa’s conception of “meatless”
that I ever came to think of fish as part of Meatless Friday.
All that is to say I’m going to try going forward to only
use the term “meatless” for true vegetarian meals and mark my Lent meals as
such. Cool? Groovy!

That being said, about 10 p.m. last night I remembered today was a “Lenten
Friday” and, as such, I was abstaining from chicken, beef, pork, etc. I eat
fish, seafood, veggies, whole grains and dairy on those days.
Now I could have gone out to lunch today. Lord knows there
are TONS of meatless (and Lent) options. BUT. I am trying to stick to my budget
better so I decided to whip something up. (Yes, at 10 p.m. last night!)
My mind immediately went to this dish I had at a Greek
restaurant called Ikaros in North East Baltimore. Baltimore is known for having
very rich, cultural neighborhood traditions. This part of Baltimore is
informally known as “Greek Town” and there are some great restaurants with
excellent food!
The original dish I had was called named (wait for it…)
Stuffed Zucchini Squash! (There was a name in Greek which I could probably
attempt since Greek is similar to Russian and, fun fact, Nik can READ – not always
understand – perfect Russian and the alphabets are similar BUT…I respect my
Greek brothers and sisters way too much to try. K? Moving on.) It had ground
beef, Greek spices and rice and the zucchini was HUGE. It was a few meals for even
me!
In this instance I decided to replicate the spirit of the
dish so much as imitate it. Mine isn’t Greek. It doesn’t subscribe to any particular
tradition, although if I were pinned down I would probably (and inaccurately)
say it’s more French provincial. But enough of my imagination. Let’s get to the
dish!
Nik’s Stuffed
Zucchini
Ingredients:
  • 1 zucchini (mine was about 7 inches)
  • 1 tsp. extra-virgin olive oil
  • 2 tbsp. chopped red bell pepper
  • 2 tbsp. chopped green pepper
  • 2 tbsp. diced onion
  • 1 tsp. minced garlic
  • Salt, pepper, your favorite spices (I used Herbs de
    Provence, but you can also use Greek seasoning or any other seasoning you like)
  • 2 tbsp. quinoa (I used red quinoa – tastes the same to me)
  • 2/3 c. water
  • 4 oz. tilapia filet (or other white fish filet of your
    choice)
Sauce ingredients:
  • 1 tbsp. butter
  • 1 tbsp. soy flour
  • ¾ c. milk (I used skim)
  • 1 tsp. garlic
  • 2 tsp. lemon juice
  • 3 tbsp. goat cheese (or other sharp cheese of your liking)
  • Salt and pepper, to taste 
Directions:
Preheat your oven to 350 degrees.
Cut off stem and base of zucchini, then cut in half
length-wise. Use a knife to score a ¼ inch channel down the middle of the
zucchini then scoop out the flesh with a spoon. Set on a baking sheet and sprinkle
with salt.
Put a dry skillet over medium heat and let it get hot. Add
oil.
Add all vegetables and saute for two minutes or until softened.
Add garlic and spices, stir and cook an additional minute.
Add quinoa and stir through the vegetable mixture before
adding water. Top with fish and cover the skillet.
Cook about 12-15 minutes or until fish is done and white
rings have popped out of the quinoa, signaling it is done. You want to cook
your quinoa extra tender since it’s going to go in the oven.

Making sure your fish, veggies and quinoa are all mixed
together, spoon the filling into the channel of the zucchini, then bake at 350
for about 15 minutes or until zucchini has softened.
Meanwhile, in that same skillet that you made the filling,
melt the butter. Add the flour and mix until a dough-like paste forms.
Add the milk and garlic and whisk it into the butter/flour
mixture. Bring the mixture to a boil. It will froth and begin to thicken.

Add the lemon juice and goat cheese and any spices and stir
until it bubbles, then reduce heat to low, cover and allow to simmer until the
zucchini is done.

VERDICT: I loved it! Somehow the dish tasted like there was bacon in it but there was not! It was savory and fragrant and…not a bowl of tuna! (Which is what I was going for. I wanted a lunch that felt like lunch.) I love the stuffed zucchini concept so I’m going to play around with it some more.

If you’ve made one, share how you stuffed yours!

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2 comments

  1. Omg I had no idea you were in Baltimore also!

  2. I always make my stuffed zucchini the same way. I guess you could call loosely call it American Italian.

    I mix a ground meat , what is on sale, with quinoa, fresh parsley and gravy, AKA tomato sauce I make form scratch and the innards of the zucchini I scooped out

    Then just fill them put some shredded motz on top and bake them.

    I have recently made this recipe and it was so good!

    ——– This is from an email I got. I made these and they were awesome! I do not take any credit for this recipe at all just sharing!

    STUFFED ZUCCHINI

    INGREDIENTS
    3 zucchinis
    1/2 large onion, chopped fine
    1 Tbsp butter
    5 – 6 slices crispy bacon, chopped
    1 Tbsp sour cream
    1/4 to 1/2 tsp salt
    1/4 tsp curry powder
    1 roma tomato, seeded and chopped
    1 tsp fresh thyme leaves
    Freshly grated Parmesan cheese
    Fresh cracked black pepper

    (you can also make these vegetarian and take the bacon out or use a meat sub. or replace with some olives or any other veggie)

    DIRECTIONS
    Give the zucchini a quick wash for good measure. Slice in half lengthwise. Leave the ends on to keep the filling in. Scoop out the flesh with a melon baller or a spoon. Leave a ledge of zucchini around the edges. For the life of me, I couldn’t make straight lines. That’s okay. They were still delicious. Arrange the zucchini boats in a baking dish. Chop the zucchini flesh as small as you like.

    Finely chop half a sweet onion. Chop up some good smokey bacon. You could leave this out for a vegetarian side dish (maybe add some chopped mushrooms?)… but my family goes through quite a lot bacon, so it’s going in! Add the curry powder… cook until desired doneness of onions and remove from heat. To the zucchini flesh, add sour cream. (How can this be bad?). Rough chop some fresh thyme leaves. Mix onion and bacon mixture with other ingredients. Taste and adjust seasoning.

    Stir in the tomatoes. Seed them or else there may be too much moisture in the filling. You don’t really want the filling to be all runny when you cut into it. Refill the zucchini shells with the filling mixture.

    Grate some good aged Parmigiano Reggiano cheese on top and sprinkle with fresh cracked black pepper. Bake uncovered at 375 degrees F for 30 minutes. Of course you know me. I’m gonna grate even more cheese on them again… Smokiness from the bacon. Salty from the Parmesan cheese. Soft and buttery zucchini.