Sunday, September 19, 2010

Stuffed Zucchini

I went home to visit my parents one weekend and my mom bought a huge zucchini at the Farmer's Market and stuffed it with a wonderful medley of vegetables, tomato sauce, and rice. When we ate it, all we managed to do was say "mmm...", smile, and nod our heads, eyes closed, at each other. It was fantastic to say the least and I knew I had to make it again.

This is a great way to get rid of leftovers in your fridge so feel free to substitute anything you have on hand. You could even do a complete 180 and go for Mexican flavors.

4 large zucchini*
1/2 cup brown rice
2 large carrots, washed thoroughly
1 1/2 tbsp minced garlic
1/4 cup vegetable broth
10 white mushrooms, dirt wiped off with a damp towel
1/2 red bell pepper, seeds and stem removed
1 jar of your favorite spaghetti sauce (I used Classico Tomato and Basil)
1 cup fresh spinach roughly chopped
3 leaves fresh basil
1/2 cup 2% mozzarella cheese
2 tbsp parmesan cheese
1 tsp italian seasoning

*I bought the biggest zucchini I could find (they were about 5 inches long) and I had the perfect amount of filling to stuff them generously.

Preheat oven to 375F

Cook rice according package directions, omit any salt or fat
Once rice is done just set aside until later

Wash zucchini then cut ends off and discard
Stand the zucchini up on one end and halve lengthwise

Carefully cut around the inside of the zucchini leaving about 1/8 inch border of skin and "meat" on the outside, this is your shell so be sure not to cut through the skin

Cut the part of the zucchini "meat" that you are going to scoop out into squares
(this helps scoop it out without breaking the shell in the process)

Now use a grapefruit spoon or any small spoon to scoop the insides out of your zucchini until about 1/4 inch remains in the bottom

Reserve half of the insides (throw away anything that is too seedy and just save the meaty parts)
Dice the insides you decide to keep into small pieces and set aside

Place zucchini halves skin side down in a large casserole dish lined with tinfoil and sprayed with Pam

Dice carrots into small pieces and add to a large sauté pan with minced garlic and vegetable stock

Dice mushrooms and peppers into same size pieces as zucchini and carrot

Start cooking carrots over medium high heat in some vegetable broth or water until they begin to soften, then add red pepper to pan and cook until they begin to soften as well

Add mushrooms and zucchini to pan and sauté with other veggies

Add rice and spaghetti sauce to pan and turn the heat off

Add spinach, chopped basil and cheese to pan, stir until everything is combined

Sprinkle the inside of each zucchini shell with italian seasoning

Spoon filling into zucchini shells, use your hands (careful it's hot!) to press the filling into the shells and mound on top slightly

Bake for 15-20 minutes until zucchini is tender but not completely soft
(If filling begins to brown too much cover with tinfoil and continue cooking until zucchini are done)

Servings 4
Per serving (2 stuffed zucchini) 260 calories

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