I started this post almost a year ago, and it’s been languishing in my “Drafts” folder. I recreated this dish a week ago for one of Gabriel’s birthday dinners, and my father-in-law requested the recipe.
I should note here that my FIL is a very good cook — we’re usually asking him for recipes, so it’s fun when the roles are reversed. It’s also a bit easier when we ask him for recipes, since he actually, ahem, uses recipes, as opposed to just making stuff up.
Stuffed zucchini is a great use for somewhat overgrown zucchini and other summer squash, but most recipes call for a long baking time. This recipe is not oven-free, as it requires a few minutes under the broiler, but it still probably uses less energy and heats the house up less than having the oven on for an hour. If you’re making a small batch, and have a toaster oven, you can really be efficient!
This is one of those “use what you have/what you like” recipes. In the above photo, from last fall, I used quinoa as the grain, and we had tomatoes and peppers from the garden. Last week, I used brown rice, along with some tempeh to up the protein and flavor (lentils are another good vegetarian protein addition). We didn’t have tomatoes or peppers last week, so I used fennel, kale, and corn, plus some eggplant puree and fresh herbs, for the vegetables.
There is a decent bit of prep work, but a lot of it can be done ahead of time, so it works well when you’re having guests for dinner, or if you just have time earlier in the day, but not in those last frantic minutes right before dinner.
No-bake Stuffed Zucchini
Recipe by Melissa
2-3 large zucchini or other summer squash (ideally at least 8-10″ long and ≥9″ diameter)
6 cloves garlic
1.5 c. uncooked grain (brown rice, quinoa, millet, farro)
1 c. cooked lentils or 1 8oz package of tempeh (optional)
4-8 c. vegetables of choice (tomatoes, peppers, eggplant, kale or spinach, fennel)fresh or dried herbs (thyme, oregano, parsley)
1-2 c. grated Parmesan cheese
olive oil and/or butter
salt and pepper
1. Prep the squash: cut in half length-wise, and scoop out the seeds and goop in the middle. Sprinkle salt on the insides, and drain in a colander for 30 minutes. While the squash is draining, bring a large pot of water to a boil (large enough to fit the squash halves). After 30 minutes, parboil the squash for 5-7 minutes, until slightly tender. Drain well. Reserve water for next step (optional).
2. Prep the grain. To up the flavor, add a bit of salt, plus some onion powder and a pinch of tumeric to this step. If you want to conserve water and energy, use some of the already-heated water from step 1 to cook the grain.
3. Prep the veggies: Since we’re not baking the stuffed zucc, you want everything fairly tender and ready to eat. Chop everything into bite-sized pieces. Sauté onions, then add other veggies to sauté. I used a mix of butter and olive oil, plus about 1/2 t. of salt. If you’re using tomatoes, you can just throw the chopped, uncooked tomatoes into the filling, or cook them down into more of a sauce.
4. Prep the tempeh, if using: I basically followed the method I use to prep tempeh for vegetarian reubens, except I crumbled it up first, instead of leaving it in a slab.
5. Combine it all: In one large pan or bowl (one of the ones that’s already dirty is fine, if it’s big enough), combine everything from steps 1-4. Toss in any herbs. Taste for overall salt and flavor level, and adjust as needed.
6. Stuff it and broil it: arrange squash halves on a broiler pan or in a large cast iron pan. Sprinkle halves with salt and garlic powder. Add the stuffing. Preheat the broiler for a couple of minutes, then broil for 5 minutes. Remove, add cheese, and broil for an additional 2-3 minutes.
- Don’t worry if you have extra stuffing. Serve it on the side, or save it for leftovers.
- If you don’t want to heat the house up at all, I imagine you could do the “broil” step on the grill to good effect.
- While not required, adding something a little “saucy” can be nice. For my most recent batch, the eggplant puree (frozen from last summer) filled that role. Tomatoes or tomato sauce work similarly well.
- To prep ahead, complete steps 1-5. You could stuff the squash ahead of time, also, but it’s best done shortly before broiling. If your filling and squash are starting at refrigerator temperature, either get them out of the fridge about 30 minutes before dinner, or microwave the filling to warm it before completing step 6.
Yum! I look forward to trying this.
OK… this is a fantastic idea! I always shy away from stuffed zucchini because as you mentioned, having the oven on for an hour or more this time of year is pure torture. But your solution is a stroke of pure genius! I’ve been vowing not to let any zucchini get away from me this year, but I’ve already harvested one that’s the size of my forearm, so I think I know what it’s destiny will be. Let’s hope for none the size of my leg this year! 🙂