Stuffed Garden Zucchini with Spinach & Walnut Pesto

(Rachel – The Vegan-Eatin’ Daughter)

I have this dramatic little plant on my kitchen table. When she get’s a little parched (it’s most definitely a she), she goes from her perky upright position to draping her long thin limbs all the way over the side of the pot as if she’s fainted. I give her a little sip of water and within minutes the color returns to her cheeks, she brushes the dirt off her skirt, and gets back to work brightening up my kitchen.

As much as I would love to have a green thumb and to have the time, desire, and talent to have a garden, I’m just not there yet. My plants have to literally bend over backwards to get me to notice them. Every attempt at an herb garden has been a miserable failure. One day, when I grow up, I hope I find my inner plant whisperer. Until then, I’ll stick to dramatic plants that practically scream for my attention.

On the bright side, Jared’s Uncle Philip, we just call him Uncle, has an organic garden. Once or twice a year, when his harvest overfloweth, he spreads around the veggie love. This week, he sent us squash, zucchini, cucumbers, a big bag full of beautiful cherry tomatoes, okra, and green beans. Fresh, local, organic, free veggies make my heart go pitter patter!

Some of the zucchini and squash had grown a little too much. When it comes to produce, bigger is usually not better. I hate to waste any vegetable, so I decided to use the zucchini as a pretty vessel for a cherry tomato stuffing.

The zucchini was still a little bit bitter and took longer to bake than a smaller variety, but the stuffing of sweet cherry tomatoes and garlicky croutons was insanely delicious. Smaller zucchini would be perfect and tender enough that you could eat the whole thing, skin and all. If you’re looking for a way to make use of any summer squash that got a little too much time on the vine, though, this is a clever way to use them up.

I have more veggies from Uncle’s garden coming tomorrow and I’ve hardly made a dent in the first round. What’s your favorite way to use up garden veggies?

Rachel’s Stuffed Garden Zucchini with Spinach & Walnut Pesto

Serves 2

Ingredients

2 large zucchini or 4 normal sized zucchini, cut in half lengthwise & seeds scooped out
extra virgin olive oil
kosher salt
course ground pepper

2 slices of whole grain bread, cut into small cubes
1 t. extra virgin olive oil
1 t. garlic powder

1/2 small onion, diced
1 leek, dark green section removed, chopped into thin half moons & rinsed well
1 clove of garlic, minced
2 cups cherry tomatoes, halved or quartered
2 cups baby spinach

Pesto
1/2 c. spinach
1 T. walnuts
1 clove of garlic
1 t. extra virgin olive oil
3-4 t. water
1/2 t. salt
1/2 t. pepper

Look at all those pretty cherry tomatoes. That’s only about half of what we got from Uncle’s garden!

Directions

Preheat oven to 375. Place zucchini cut side up in a baking dish, drizzle with a little olive oil and sprinkle with kosher salt and course ground black pepper. Bake until fork tender. 20-35 minutes depending on the size of the zucchini.

Toss bread cubes with olive oil and garlic powder.  Pour onto a baking sheet and bake in the same oven as zucchini until crispy, about 10 minutes.

In a skillet, heat a little olive oil on medium heat. Add onion and leeks and saute until transclucent, add garlic and tomatoes, continue sauteing for about five more minutes. Remove from heat and stir in spinach.

When the zucchini are fork tender, remove from the oven, stuff generously with the filling and put back in the oven for 15 more minutes.

Blend all of the pesto ingredients together, starting with 3 t. of water and adding more until the pesto is thin enough to drizzle easily.

Serve the stuffed squash on a big family platter, drizzled with pesto on top. Can be served as a main meatless dish or as a side.

The skin on the larger squash is too tough to eat, but the flesh did get tender while baking.

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The Title: Stuffed Garden Zucchini with Spinach & Walnut Pesto
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Pecan Mushroom Stuffed Zucchini

Becky’s Pecan Mushroom Stuffed Zucchini

My daughter Rachel, the gorgeous vegan who co-writes this blog with me, just flew home to Texas today after four fabulous and fun-filled days visiting us here in Colorado. Because I only get to see my newest grandson every two to three months, I’m always shocked by how big he is. But in my wildest imagination, I did not expect 9 month old Jackson to hit the floor and immediately start moving my furniture around. Seriously, Rachel says he spends a portion of every day pushing and rearranging her furniture. Either he is a miniature Popeye-in-the-Making (he does love his spinach!), or a budding interior decorator.

Jackson at Work

“Hi Nonny. I think this chair just works better here, in the middle of the floor, don’t you?”

Whatever the case, Rachel and Jackson could be the poster mom & baby for an ad campaign for Eating Your Vegies.

Rach & Jackson relaxing in our backyard this weekend

She is not only beautiful, but I marveled at her strength as well.  I was stunned with admiration as I watched her toss a diaper bag weighing as much as a baby elephant  over one shoulder,  while she balanced Jackson (no lightweight!) on the other hip, as if they were bags of popcorn.

For their farewell vegan lunch today, I made one of my favorite vegie dishes, Mushroom-Pecan Stuffed Zucchini. I invented this recipe a couple of months ago, and it quickly became one of my favorite staple vegetable dishes. I’m really enjoying being an EOD (Every Other Day) vegetarian, feel my tummy is lighter and flatter and clothes a bit looser.  This may be my favorite meatless meal. It’s a good comfort food while I’m missing the pitter-pat of my daughter’s feet and the scoot-scoot-scoot sound of my grandson moving the furniture across the wood floor.

Pecan Mushroom Stuffed Zucchini

Pecan Mushroom Stuffed Zucchini

Serves 4 -6

Ingredients

1/4 cup olive oil
1/4 cup butter (or Earth Balance for vegans)
4 zucchini squashes, cut in half lengthwise, then the middle cut out like a canoe, then diced (see pic below,  I just cut a “v” shape to hollow it out quickly.)
8 ounces of mushrooms, any kind, diced (to yield 1 1/2 to 2 cups)
2 cloves garlic, minced
2 pieces soft whole wheat bread made into crumbs (I use food processor)
1/2 cup pecans, broken or chopped (walnuts are also great)
1/2 c. Parmesan cheese, divided (vegans sub with vegan cheese or omit)
3/4 t. salt
1/2 t. pepper
8 cherry or grape tomatoes, sliced for garnish
fresh basil or oregano (enough for garnish)

Directions

Heat oven to 375 degrees.

Put hollowed out zucchini “boats” in a heat-proof rectangle pan, lightly salt & pepper, and microwave for 6 minutes. In the meantime, heat oil and butter together in a skillet, and add the chopped zucchini and mushrooms and garlic.

I scooped out zucchini by simply cutting a “v” shaped piece out of the center.

Chopped zucchini (the scooped out middle portions) and mushrooms, ready for skillet

Stir and cover, cooking over medium heat for about 5 minutes, so that juices accumulate and don’t evaporate. When vegies are soft and translucent and “juicy,” toss in bread crumbs, 1/4 c. Parm cheese, pecans, 3/4 t.  salt and 1/2 t.  pepper. Stir. Turn off heat. Stuffing should be moist. (If dry, add a little more butter, oil and/or water.)  Fill the “nuked” zucchini with stuffing, decorate with sliced tomatoes, cover pan with foil and bake for 15 minutes. Remove from oven and sprinkle with remaining 1/4 c. Parm, and put back in under broiler, watching carefully until Parmesan starts to melt and tomatoes start to brown just a little. Garnish with fresh basil or oregano leaves.

Delicious served alone as a vegetarian meal or as a side dish for any occasion.

Variation: Try adding cooked crumbled sausage for omnivores in your family to make a complete meal-in-one.

Pecan Mushroom Stuffed Zucchini

This was printed from: We Laugh, We Cry, We Cook
The site URL: http://welaughwecrywecook.com
The Title: Pecan Mushroom Stuffed Zucchini
The URL: http://wp.me/p1UwM9-gj