Words, Photography & Video by Sarah Prikryl
We recently had the opportunity to tend an organic farm in Santa Cruz, CA which was, let’s be honest…my foodie dream come true. Every day we would stroll down to the garden and pick fresh zucchini, squash and tomatoes fresh off the vine. My favorite kitchen experiment during my dream stay in the mountains was my Stuffed Baked Zucchini recipe. I’m so happy I get to share this delicious gluten-free meal with you! Especially now with these wintry, cold and rainy California days, who couldn’t use a warm plate of healthy comfort food? Enjoy!
STUFFED BAKED ZUCCHINI
Prep & Cook Time: 40 minutes
Bake Time: 35-40 minutes
Total: 1 hr. 10-20 minutes
- 1 lb. Organic Ground Meat (bison or beef; vegans can use 1 carton of diced mushrooms or pea protein meat substitute instead)
- 6 large Organic Zucchini
- 2 Organic Lemons
- 4 sprigs of Rosemary
- 4 medium Organic Tomatoes
- 3 cups cooked Rice (which is 1 cup of uncooked Rice)
- 1 Yellow Onion
- 5 cloves of Garlic
- Olive Oil
- Salt & Pepper
- Red Pepper Flakes
- Grated Parmesan (optional)
A few quick notes:
*The zucchini, pictured above, was picked at the farm and was a massive giant. When picking your ingredients from a farmers market or grocery store, look for 6 medium to large zucchini, preferably at least 8-10 in. long. The larger and thicker the better, so that once the core of the zucchini is gutted, there is still a large enough “boat” to fill with stuffing.
*Last week we featured my favorite food hacks to save you time in the kitchen. I love to use onion, garlic and herbs in a lot of my recipes. Check out these game-changer tips that will save you time on this recipe and many more. (click HERE to view)
*For this Stuffed Zucchini recipe, you can use leftover rice or even pre-cook the rice a couple days before to save you time on the day. If you don’t have any leftover Chinese takeout boxes hanging out in your fridge, don’t fret. The rice can cook while you are prepping and chopping.
Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. If you do not have pre-cooked or leftover rice, start to cook your rice first, by adding 1 cup of rice to 1.5 cups of water with a pinch of salt in a pot. Bring to a boil. Cover. Reduce the heat to a simmer and allow to cook for 15-18 minutes. The water should be fully absorbed. Remove from heat and set aside. If you are using leftover rice, there is no need to pre-heat it at this time.
While the rice is cooking, dice the onion into small chunks. Mince the garlic. Set aside. On the stovetop, heat 2 Tbsp. of olive oil in a pot. Add the onion and allow to cook down until translucent. Squeeze half a lemon into the pot and allow the onions to caramelize. Add the minced garlic. While the onions and garlic are cooking, dice the tomatoes into small chunks. Add them to the pot and let them cook down. Sprinkle with a pinch of salt. Stir occasionally.
Cut the zucchini length-wise in half. With a spoon, scrape out the middle “meat” of the zucchini until there is only enough of the zucchini boat left to keep its shape, about 1/2 an inch. Set the insides of the zucchini aside. It should be shredded from scraping with the spoon, but if you have larger chunks, dice them into small pieces.
On a baking sheet, place the zucchini boats, flesh-side up and sprinkle with salt. Let them stand 5 minutes. The salt will cause the zucchini to excrete moisture.
While the zucchini is resting, add the inner flesh of the zucchini to the pot and allow to cook down. De-stem and mince the rosemary. Add to the pot.
TIP: To see the fastest way to de-stem rosemary click on our Sirens Food Hack Article HERE or click the arrow below.
Add the ground meat to the pot. If you are vegan or vegetarian, add diced mushrooms or crumbled pea protein as a meat substitute. As the meat browns, squeeze the juice from the remaining lemons and zest the lemon peel into the stew. Add salt & pepper to your taste preference. Sprinkle with red pepper flakes to your spice preference. Do not overcook the meat (it will cook further as it’s baking in the oven). Fluff the rice with a fork and add it to the stew pot. Stir.
Dab any excess moisture off of the zucchini boats with a paper towel. Drizzle with olive oil and rub. Fill the boats with heaping spoonfuls of the rice stuffing. To keep the zucchini boats from falling over, place them close together so that they can rest on each other while baking.
Bake in the oven for 35-40 minutes until the zucchini is tender. Remove from heat. Drizzle the top with more olive oil, salt and pepper.
Gather your loved ones. Dinner is served. Toasted gluten-free garlic bread and a side salad of tomato & basil dressed with a balsamic vinaigrette make a wonderful accompaniment. Sprinkle generously with grated parmesan. Break open that bottle of red wine and enjoy your rainy day comfort food feast!
I’m going to let you in on a little secret: a friend of mine surprised me with a loaf of gluten-free sourdough for this meal. I am now addicted to Bread Srsly. It is wildly delicious. Cut a slice. Toast it. Dip it in olive oil & vinegar with a sprinkle of Maldon’s Salt. It will take this meal to the next level. You’re welcome!
Check out our many other Zucchini-based recipes from Zucchini Noodle Thai Soup to Zucchini Rollatini by clicking on our Recipe section or typing “Zucchini” into the search bar at the top of the page (look for the magnifying glass).
BON APPETIT!~love, Sirens & Scoundrels
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