Since I began my quest to be meat-free on Mondays, I’ve experimented with several forms of meatless protein sources. Some have passed the test and others have failed miserably. Still others simply straddle the line of taste, being neither here nor there in terms of actual flavor. While this may sound a bit odd, today’s Meatless Monday recipe contains one such meatless protein source that seemed to add little in terms of flavor to the dish but does provides a source of protein. In spite of this, I will be the first to say that perhaps I failed at the basic task of seasoning in the dish and that, with a renewed sense of vigor in an upcoming Round #2, the flavor quotient will be raised exponentially.
Having said all of this, I bring you this week’s Meatless Monday recipe, meat-free Stuffed Zucchini Boats. As with many recipes, you can vary the ingredients according to your palate: omit the meat substitute altogether, add tomatoes, add other veggies, etc. With this recipe, experimentation is the key. Enjoy!
Stuffed Zucchini Boats
- 7 ounces of vegetarian protein “meat” (I used Lightlife Gimme Lean Ground Beef Style Veggie Protein)
- Seasonings of your choice for “meat”
- 2 large zucchinis
- 3 tbsp. olive oil
- 1 bunch of green onions, thin sliced
- ½ cup red bell pepper, diced
- 1 clove garlic, minced
- 1 cup baby spinach
- ½ cup bread crumbs
- 1 egg, beaten
- ¼ cup shredded mozzarella (plus more, if desired, for optional topping)
- ¼ cup shredded parmesan (plus more, if desired, for optional topping)
- Salt & pepper
Preheat oven to 375º. Cut zucchini in half, lengthwise. Hollow out the zucchini (using a lemon baller or the back of a spoon) and set the flesh aside; leave enough of the zucchini’s shell to create a base for the “boat” (see picture). Season zucchini shell with salt & pepper or your favorite seasonings.
In a saute pan heat the olive oil over medium heat. Add “meat,” (seasoning as you would ground beef or turkey) and cook through. Once “meat” is done, add the reserved zucchini flesh, green onions, bell peppers, and minced garlic. Cook for 10 minutes, stirring frequently. Add spinach and cook until just wilted, about 1 minute.
Remove from heat and season with salt and pepper. Transfer mixture to a bowl and let cool 10 minutes. Add bread crumbs, cheeses and egg to zucchini mixture and mix thoroughly. Divide the mixture evenly among the 4 zucchini boats.
Top with additional cheese, if desired. Bake uncovered for 25 minutes. Remove from oven; cool for 5-10 minutes and serve.
I served the Stuffed Zucchini Boats with a side of brown rice that I jazzed up for a nutty, earthy flavor! It’s my version of “wild rice.”
Quick Wild Rice
- 1 bag of Success brown rice
- 3 tbsp. pine nuts, toasted
- 3 tbsp. slivered almonds, toasted
- 1 tbsp. fresh parsley, finely chopped
- 1 tsp. fresh cilantro, finely chopped
Cook rice according to package directions. Once rice is cooked, add pine nuts, almonds, parsley and cilantro; mix well. Serve.