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Nik's Stuffed Zucchini

Quinoa & Tilapia Stuffed Zucchini

So I think I should stop calling Meatless Friday, Meatless Friday. It’s sort of misleading. More than once I’ve been told if I eat fish it’s not a true Meatless Friday and, thinking about it, that’s kind of right. I think it’s much more a function of my Catholic grandpa’s conception of “meatless” that I ever came to think of fish as part of Meatless Friday.

All that is to say I’m going to try going forward to only use the term “meatless” for true vegetarian meals and mark my Lent meals as such. Cool? Groovy!

That being said, about 10 p.m. last night I remembered today was a “Lenten Friday” and, as such, I was abstaining from chicken, beef, pork, etc. I eat fish, seafood, veggies, whole grains and dairy on those days.

Now I could have gone out to lunch today. Lord knows there are TONS of meatless (and Lent) options. BUT. I am trying to stick to my budget better so I decided to whip something up. (Yes, at 10 p.m. last night!)

My mind immediately went to this dish I had at a Greek restaurant called Ikaros in North East Baltimore. Baltimore is known for having very rich, cultural neighborhood traditions. This part of Baltimore is informally known as “Greek Town” and there are some great restaurants with excellent food!

The original dish I had was called named (wait for it…) Stuffed Zucchini Squash! (There was a name in Greek which I could probably attempt since Greek is similar to Russian and, fun fact, Nik can READ – not always understand – perfect Russian and the alphabets are similar BUT…I respect my Greek brothers and sisters way too much to try. K? Moving on.) It had ground beef, Greek spices and rice and the zucchini was HUGE. It was a few meals for even me!

In this instance I decided to replicate the spirit of the dish so much as imitate it. Mine isn’t Greek. It doesn’t subscribe to any particular tradition, although if I were pinned down I would probably (and inaccurately) say it’s more French provincial. But enough of my imagination. Let’s get to the dish!

Nik’s Stuffed Zucchini

  • 1 zucchini (mine was about 7 inches)
  • 1 tsp. extra-virgin olive oil
  • 2 tbsp. chopped red bell pepper
  • 2 tbsp. chopped green pepper
  • 2 tbsp. diced onion
  • 1 tsp. minced garlic
  • Salt, pepper, your favorite spices (I used Herbs de Provence, but you can also use Greek seasoning or any other seasoning you like)
  • 2 tbsp. quinoa (I used red quinoa – tastes the same to me)
  • 2/3 c. water
  • 4 oz. tilapia filet (or other white fish filet of your choice)
Sauce ingredients:
  • 1 tbsp. butter
  • 1 tbsp. soy flour
  • ¾ c. milk (I used skim)
  • 1 tsp. garlic
  • 2 tsp. lemon juice
  • 3 tbsp. goat cheese (or other sharp cheese of your liking)
  • Salt and pepper, to taste 

Preheat your oven to 350 degrees.

Cut off stem and base of zucchini, then cut in half length-wise. Use a knife to score a ¼ inch channel down the middle of the zucchini then scoop out the flesh with a spoon. Set on a baking sheet and sprinkle with salt.

Put a dry skillet over medium heat and let it get hot. Add oil.

Add all vegetables and saute for two minutes or until softened. Add garlic and spices, stir and cook an additional minute.

Add quinoa and stir through the vegetable mixture before adding water. Top with fish and cover the skillet.

Cook about 12-15 minutes or until fish is done and white rings have popped out of the quinoa, signaling it is done. You want to cook your quinoa extra tender since it’s going to go in the oven.

Making sure your fish, veggies and quinoa are all mixed together, spoon the filling into the channel of the zucchini, then bake at 350 for about 15 minutes or until zucchini has softened.

Meanwhile, in that same skillet that you made the filling, melt the butter. Add the flour and mix until a dough-like paste forms.

Add the milk and garlic and whisk it into the butter/flour mixture. Bring the mixture to a boil. It will froth and begin to thicken.

Add the lemon juice and goat cheese and any spices and stir until it bubbles, then reduce heat to low, cover and allow to simmer until the zucchini is done.

VERDICT: I loved it! Somehow the dish tasted like there was bacon in it but there was not! It was savory and fragrant and...not a bowl of tuna! (Which is what I was going for. I wanted a lunch that felt like lunch.) I love the stuffed zucchini concept so I'm going to play around with it some more.

If you've made one, share how you stuffed yours!


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