Quinoa Stuffed Zucchini Boats.

Today was one of those days where I felt like I was winging it all day long!  I found out when I was leaving work Friday that I would be making a staff lunch today.  With such short notice I had NO plan, and no chance to prep anything or get any vegetables harvested.  So when I walked in the door this morning, I knew I needed to get started right away.

I called up to the red shed to find out what I could get quickly and easily.  The answer – tomatoes, potatoes, and zucchini.  From there, I took a peek in the pantry and started chopping.  I washed a big pile of red, blue, and fingerling potatoes…

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And chopped up a big handful of fresh rosemary picked out of the kitchen garden. 

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I made a vinaigrette of grapeseed oil, lemon juice, salt, pepper, and rosemary…

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And then dumped it onto the big bowl of sliced potatoes.

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Stirred to combine and coat each precious potato…

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And then poured out onto a sheet pan.  I started these off at 400 and let them roast for about 45 minutes, stirring every 15 or so.  Once they were browned and fairly soft, I backed the heat down on the oven to 200, and left them in there for an additional hour (because I was serving them at a specific lunch time). 

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Starting them high and then backing the heat down low resulted in absolutely delicious potato pillows.

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The farm boys gobbled up every last one!

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For a main course at the lunch, I decided I was going to make zucchini boats – something I had never actually done before.  I knew it would be a little bit tricky since I had three varying sizes of zucchini, but I decided to just go with it. 

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First step was to cut the ends off each zucchini and slice them all vertically into two halves.

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Papa, mama, and baby bear.

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Then I took a spoon and scraped out the fleshy stuff inside each half.  If I had been at home I would have used a melon-baller or my serrated grapefruit spoon, but this regular spoon was fine too – just took a little more arm muscle!

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I made a big pile of all the scooped out zucchini flesh…

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And then drizzled the inside of each half with a little bit of olive oil, salt and pepper. 

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Time for the filling!  I started by chopping up one small white onion and half of a huge red onion.

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Threw them in a sauté pan with olive oil to soften and start to brown.

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With the onions softened, I chopped up the zucchini guts and threw them in to the pan to cook too. 

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Meanwhile, I also cooked up some quinoa in my nifty rice cooker.  Because our farm lunches are vegetarian, I always try to incorporate some sort of veggie protein.  Quinoa is such a quick and easy way to do this!  If you don’t have one of these, you can very easily make quinoa on the stove top in 20-25 minutes.  Just use a 1 cup quinoa to 2 cups liquid ratio, and simmer until all the liquid has been absorbed. 

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Once the quinoa was cooked and fluffed, I added it to the pan with the onions and guts, and then sprinkled it with a little cumin and lemon juice.  Once it was seasoned to taste with salt and pepper, I tossed in a handful of shaved parmesan for a final flavor boost.

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Spooned the mixture evenly into my zucchini boats…

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And then gave a final topping of a little extra cheese for melting. 

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Into a 400 degree oven, covered with foil for 30 minutes, and then uncovered for an additional ten.  Final product – gooey and browned zucchini goodness!

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Since I was cooking for a large group and wanted to make sure I had enough servings, I cut the halves into equally sized pieces, and stacked them together in a serving dish.

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These were a HUGE hit!  The farm staff seriously freaked out.  They declared it the best lunch ever – hurrah!

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The parmesan cheese was a great addition, and by taking the foil off for the last ten minutes, there was just enough crispiness and browning. 

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Mmmmmmmmm.

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Oh yes – and one more thing!  I also made a summer tomato salad…

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Tomatoes, peaches, red apples, and basil – all chopped up and tossed in a homemade balsamic vinaigrette.

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Perfect sweet ending to a delicious meal. 

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What started with no plan ended up being a delicious lunch, and one of the staff favorites!  Just goes to show that you shouldn’t be scared to try something new.  If the zucchini boats were a disaster, my back up plan was going to be to chop it all up and sauté it until soft, but I didn’t end up needing a plan B.  And now not only did I serve a well received lunch, I taught myself how to make stuffed zucchini – a win win!  :) 

This week kicks off the next round of summer travels and craziness, starting with Friday’s trip to DC to find a place to live!  After that I’ll be heading down to the ATL for a wild bachelorette weekend, and the following weekend I’m up in Chicago for the Healthy Living Summit.
  (Who else is going?!)  Should be a fun and busy few weeks!