veggie-stuffed zucchini with quinoa

3/4 cup quinoa, rinsed
1 1/2 cups water
3 large (straight) zucchini, ends trimmed
2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
1 small onion, diced
1 medium carrot, peeled and diced
1 small sweet pepper (yellow, orange, or red), diced
Kosher salt, to taste
Freshly ground black pepper, to taste
2 cloves garlic, chopped
Pinch red pepper flakes, or to taste
1 tablespoon tomato paste
1 14.5-ounce can diced tomatoes (with their juices)
2 tablespoons chopped fresh flat-leaf Italian parsley
6 tablespoons freshly grated Parmigiano-Reggiano, or to taste

  1. In a medium saucepan, bring quinoa and water to a boil. Reduce heat to low and place a lid on top of pot, slightly ajar, for a few minutes until water settles down (so it doesn’t overflow). Once it settles, cover completely and simmer for 10-15 minutes until germ ring is visible. Set aside.
  2. Preheat oven to 400°F.
  3. Slice zucchini in half lengthwise and use a teaspoon to scoop out most of flesh. Leave remaining boats with about 1/4-inch of flesh (take care not to go through bottom). Dice flesh into bite-sized pieces. Place boats in a baking dish (if boats don’t sit flat, trim a piece off bottom). Bake for 10 minutes.
  4. Make filling. In a large sauté pan, heat olive oil over medium heat. Add onion, carrot, and pepper and cook until softened, about 10 minutes. Season with salt and pepper. Add diced zucchini and cook for another 5 minutes. Add garlic, red pepper flakes, and tomato paste and cook for another minute. Add tomatoes and continue to cook until vegetables are softened, another 5-10 minutes. Once softened, add parsley and cook for another 30 seconds. Remove from heat.
  5. Divide quinoa among zucchini boats, followed by vegetables. Season with salt and pepper. Bake for about 25 minutes, until zucchini can be gently pierced with a knife. Top each with 1 tablespoon Parmigiano-Reggiano, return to oven and bake until cheese is melted, about 5 more minutes.

Makes 6.