This is my first Meatless Monday column for Patch and I'm thriled to be able to share with you my recipes for satisfying, flavorful, vegetarian dishes. I'm a lifelong vegetarian but I know that it's not easy for anyone to completely overhaul their diet, be it cutting out meat, dairy, gluten, processed foods, or anything else. That's why I'm a big proponent of the Meatless Monday campaign, which encourages people to go meatless one day a week - it's much easier to start with a small change than to attempt a total transformation all at once. And it's a great idea to go meatless one day a week even for those who don't want to give up meat but want to improve their health and the health of our planet.
When possible, I try to cook with what's in season. But even though it's mid-October, the greenmarket is still holding onto summer. Eggplants, tomatoes, and zucchini are still available, but they won't be around for much longer, so this week's recipe takes advantage of the last zucchini of season.
This recipe is one of my favorites - it's a hearty main dish that's packed with protein and lots of bright flavors so it's satisfying on all fronts.
The filling for this can be prepared ahead of time so that all you have to do before serving this is stuff the hollowed-out zucchini and bake them. If you can't find globe zucchini, you can use any kind of zucchini or summer squash.
(from Raspberry Eggplant)
vegan if not using cheese
6 medium sized globe zucchini½ cup couscous (you can use nearly any small grain; I've been using quinoa lately to make this gluten-free)
¾ cup cooked chickpeas
¼ cup roasted yellow or orange peppers (if you can’t find these, you can substitute roasted red peppers)
2 tablespoons chopped fresh flat leaf parsley
2 tablespoons golden raisins
1/3 cup crumbled feta cheese (optional)
1/4 teaspoon salt, plus more to taste
Freshly ground black pepper
1/4 cup panko bread crumbs
1 teaspoon extra virgin olive oil
1 teaspoon finely chopped parsley
1/4 teaspoon salt
Slice off the tops off the zucchini. If the zucchini roll over, slice a little bit off the bottom so that they will sit up. Using a small spoon, carve out the inside of the zucchini, leaving a wall that is about ¼” thick.
Finely chop the scooped out zucchini – you should have 2 – 2 ½ cups.
Heat the oil over medium heat. Add the garlic and sauté for 1 minute. Add the chopped zucchini and cook until most of the liquid has cooked off and the zucchini has completely softened, about 20 minutes.
In the meantime, bring ½ cup water to a boil in a small saucepan with a lid. When the water is boiling, remove the pot from the heat and stir in the couscous and a pinch of salt. Cover the pot and let it sit for 6 minutes. Fluff the couscous with a fork and transfer to a bowl. Add the cooked zucchini and let stand for a few minutes to cool slightly. Add the chickpeas, roasted peppers, parsley, raisins, feta cheese (if using), salt, and a few grinds of black pepper. Mix well and add more salt if needed. (You can stop here and keep this mixture refrigerated overnight.)
Heat an oven to 375° F.
Generously sprinkle the insides of the hollowed-out zucchini with salt. Stuff them with the couscous mixture, making sure to press down on the filling. Rub the outsides of the zucchini with extra virgin olive oil.
Arrange the stuffed zucchini on a foil-lined baking sheet and cover the pan with foil. Bake for 30 minutes.
While the zucchini are baking, mix together the panko, oil, parsley, and salt.
After the zucchini have baked for 30 minutes, remove the foil and sprinkle the tops with the panko mixture. Return the pan to the oven and bake uncovered until the panko is golden brown, about 10-12 minutes.