Two summers ago, I spent my days interning as a chef at Poplar Ridge Organic Farm (in Waxhaw, North Carolina). I dug fresh vegetables straight out of the ground, and had them cooked and arranged in serving dishes a few hours later. It was a dream job.
One of the best parts of working there was the unlimited access to all the vegetables I could get my hands on. I often went in for the day with no plans or preparations, and I’d begin my meal planning at the big red shed. I’d talk to the farmers about what was ripe and plentiful, and go from there.
I documented a lot of my farm cooking, but never really turned any of the meals into recipes. One of my favorite dishes I made that summer were the quinoa stuffed zucchini boats. Last week, I decided to make them again – this time with a few changes and improvements.
I bought these giant zucchini at the Bellevue Farmer’s Market with this dish specifically in mind. While I used zucchini, you can really use any variety of squash – yellow, patty pan, etc. In this case, bigger is better – it will hold more delicious stuffing!
Quinoa Stuffed Squash Boats
Prep Time: 40 minutes
Cook Time: 45 minutes
Ingredients (3-4 servings)
1 cup quinoa
2 cups water
1 vegetable bouillon cube (optional)
3 large zucchini squash (or squash of your choice!)
1 large onion
1 cup sliced cherry tomatoes
1/2 cup minced fresh herbs (I used tarragon, basil, and oregano)
1 tablespoon nutritional yeast
1 tablespoon orange champagne vinegar (or white wine vinegar)
salt (to taste)
Start by preheating your oven to 400 degrees. Then combine quinoa with 2 cups of water, and cook until fluffy in a rice cooker or on the stove-top. I like to cook mine with a vegetable bouillon cube for seasoning, but that’s optional.
While the quinoa cooks, prep your squash boats. Slice each zucchini in half lengthwise, so you have two long halves from each squash. Using a serrated spoon (or melon baller!), scrape the fleshy inside of the squash out of each half. Try to get as much as possible, so that you have enough room to add filling to your squash.
Set the scraped zucchini flesh aside on a paper towel (which will help absorb some of the extra water).
Set your zucchini shells face up on a baking sheet. Drizzle with a bit of olive oil and salt. Now prep the rest of your squash filling.
In a large saute pan, cook the diced onion in a bit of olive oil. Cook until brown and softening – about five minutes. While the onion cooks, dice the zucchini flesh into bite sized pieces. Add the zucchini and the cherries to the pan with the onions. Continue cooking for about five minutes over medium heat.
Once the quinoa is cooked, add quinoa to the saute pan, along with nutritional yeast and fresh herbs. I used tarragon, basil, and oregano from my garden, but feel free to sub in other herbs that you have on hand. Fresh herbs are one of the best parts of summer cooking!
Add one tablespoon or orange champagne vinegar. I got mine at Trader Joe’s, but if you don’t have that nearby feel free to sub in regular champagne or white wine vinegar.
Add one tablespoon nutritional yeast (or sub with Parmesan cheese if you prefer), and stir to combine everything. Season to taste with salt, as you continue to cook the mixture over medium heat. Scoop the quinoa and squash mixture into the zucchini boats.
Use a spoon to really pile it up! Once they are full, cover the whole sheet pan with foil and bake for 30 minutes (covered). After the 30 minutes, bake for an additional 10-15 minutes, until the quinoa mixture is golden on top and the zucchini shell has softened.
Serve entire boats, or slice and serve in a few smaller pieces. Don’t be fooled by the photo – I ended up eating an entire second squash. Too good not to go back for seconds!
To me, this recipe is the epitome of summer. Giant farm fresh squash, ripe cherry tomatoes, and flavorful fresh herbs – all cooked together for a tasty and healthy meal.
Just as good as I had remembered. As always, enjoy!