I don’t eat red meat, but I am not a vegetarian. That being said, I have been on kind of an unintentional veggie kick lately when it comes to recipes. My favorite kinds of vegetarian dishes are the ones that still feel hearty. Salads are great and everything, but I prefer something warm, filling, and, if I can swing it, a little cheesy.
This recipe is a little bit comfort food, a little bit healthy, with great flavor that the whole family will love. If you want a picky eater to eat quinoa, making it taste like a lasagna is the way to go.
You will notice in the recipe that I link to my tomato sauce recipe from yesterday. You can obviously use any tomato sauce you like, but I would suggest something that is a little on the thicker side, really packed with extra veggies.
This is perfect as a meatless Monday main course for a couple or as a side dish for a family meal with some grilled chicken, steak, or whatever your favorite protein is.
- 2 large or 3 medium zucchini
- 1 cup quinoa, precooked & cooled
- 1 cup tomato sauce
- 1/2 cup grated parmesan
- 2 Tbsp extra virgin olive oil
- 1 Tbsp minced garlic
- 1/2 tsp crushed red pepper
- 10-12 pieces of pearl mozzarella (the kind that come in a small tub)
- salt & pepper to taste
- Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.
- Slice the zucchini in half lengthwise. Cut off the thick stems at the top. Using a small metal spoon, carefully scrap out the inside of the zucchini to create “boats”. (Leave a little inside for structure so that they don’t fall apart.)
- Using paper towels, squeeze excess moisture from the zucchini pulp over the sink. Measure out 1 cup of shredded zucchini into a large bowl.
- Add the precooked & cooled quinoa of your choice to the zucchini pulp. Add the tomato sauce, parmesan, extra virgin olive oil, garlic & crushed red pepper. Stir until everything is combined. Add salt & pepper to taste.
- Spoon the sauce/quinoa mixture into the zucchini boats & place them on a lined sheet pan. Cut the mozzarella balls in half & place them evenly on top of the stuffed zucchini.
- Cook for 20-25 minutes, depending on the size of the zucchini, until the filling is bubbling & the mozzarella is melted. Let them cool slightly, about 5 minutes, before serving.
Suggestions & Substitutions: I used a simple instant red and black quinoa package that you make in the microwave, because if there’s one thing I always seem to mess up, it’s cooking grains on the stovetop. (I still never feel like I get rice quite right.) It is totally your call on how you want to make it. This is a great recipe if you happen to have leftover quinoa laying around from another meal.
Does the color matter? Not really. White/tan quinoa tends to be the most delicate and as it gets darker (red and black) they have more flavor, texture and fiber. The flavor will be dominated by the sauce here, so I went with the mixture of red and black because I wanted that added texture and fiber in the recipe.
This is a vegetarian meal, as I mentioned, but if you want to switch out the parmesan for some breadcrumbs or nutritional yeast and omit the mozzarella, you have a vegan meal!