I am sure you all have noticed the huge fad that follows the humble zucchini, especially in the healthy eating and vegetarian world. I find this to be an easy to prepare vegetable with minimal preparation and a very short cooking time. Another thing I find appealing about the zucchini is the way it carries flavour or in other words, it is a great wingman! In light of continuing my journey with healthy eating, I attempted these stuffed vegetable boats.
I also threw in some red peppers because the fillings I had was more than what my little zucchinis could hold. You can obviously choose either of these vegetables and they both have similar cooking times. Since these are vegetables that are eaten raw as well, you want to make sure you are not overcooking them. The way I like these stuffed vegetable boats is with a bit of a crunch, so as to your taste you could choose to cook it longer.
Benefits of the Ingredients
Zucchini and peppers are great vegetables to add to your diet in general. The zucchini especially is low in saturated fats, high in fibre and also a good source of protein, vitamin A and vitamin C to mention a few. The high in fibre aspect helps us to be able to stay longer fuller especially with low carb meals. Red peppers are known for their sweetness and smooth flavours on the palate, it is not as strong in the pepper flavour as its counterpart the green pepper. It is also an excellent source of vitamin A and C.
Additionally you will notice that I have used cooked quinoa in this dish and the main reason was to bulk up the dish. I knew if we were just to have it with meat and zucchini it would not fill us up and that the flavour of the meat would be strong. Since you need a considerable amount of the filling, the addition of quinoa will make this stretch for the stuffed vegetable boats. The preparation of this dish is relatively easy and to make it even easier for a weeknight dinner you can prepare the filling previously and stuff and bake the vegetables the night off.
Preparation Time – 20 Minutes
Cook Time – 35 Minutes
Serves – 4
Ingredients for the stuffed vegetable boats
Zucchinis – 4, cut lengthwise and hollowed out
Red Pepper – 2, deseed and halved
Cooked Quinoa – 1 cup
Ground Beef – 1 Lb
Onion – 1 medium, diced
Garlic – 2 cloves, minced
Italian Seasoning – 2 Teaspoons
Salt – 1 Teaspoon
Chili Flakes – 1 Teaspoon (optional)
Pasta/Marinara Sauce – 1 1/2 Cups
Mozzarella Cheese – 1 cup grated or as needed
Firstly, prepare your zucchini by cutting them lengthwise and using a teaspoon or a melon baller, scoop the seedy flesh out. Also, prepare your peppers by slicing them lengthwise and desseding them. Preheat your oven at 350 degrees.
Over medium heat brown the ground beef and drain any excess fat. Add onions, garlic, italian seasonings, salt and quinoa. Mix well and cook for approximately 7 minutes or until the onions are cooked through.
Now you can add the sauce, incorporate well and heat through for a minute.
Next place your zucchini boats and peppers on a baking tray and carefully spoon the fillings into them. Top with shredded cheese. Bake them for 15 minutes or until the cheese is golden.
The ground beef and quinoa stuffed vegetable boats are ready to be served. Let them cool for a bit so that you do not burn your mouth.
Substitutions and Pairings
If you are not comfortable with making quinoa then you could consider substituting with cooked brown rice. I keep a cup or two of cooked quinoa frozen to bulk up dishes like this. Of course you can substitute the ground beef with chicken or turkey as well. For a vegetarian option double the quinoa or add a cup of black beans to the filling mixture. Now, we ate these stuffed vegetable boats by themselves for dinner but if you are looking for something to pair with this, a warm soup might be a good option so try this Curried Butternut Squash and sweet potato soup.
You could use this filling in other vegetables too, for example, try green peppers, tomatoes or eggplant. Since the filling is really flavourful you can use any leftover filling in lettuce wraps and still have a healthy lunch the next day. So many ways to make healthy meal options tasty and hearty. Happy cooking!
Ground Beef and Quinoa Stuffed Vegetable Boats
- 4 Zucchinis
- 2 Red Pepper
- 1 Lb Ground Beef
- 1 cup Cooked Quinoa
- 1 Onion, medium diced
- 2 cloves Garlic minced
- 2 tsps Italian Seasoning
- 1 tsp Salt
- 1 tsp Chili Flakes optional
- 11/2 cups Pasta/Marinara Sauce
- 1 cup Mozzarella Cheese
- Prepare your zucchinis by cutting them lengthwise and using a teaspoon scoop the center seedy flesh out. Next, prepare your peppers by slicing them lengthwise and desseding them. Preheat your oven at 350 degrees.
- Over medium heat brown the ground beef and drain any excess fat.
- Add onions, garlic, italian seasonings, salt and quinoa. Mix well and cook for approximately 7 minutes or until the onions are cooked through.
- Next add the sauce, incorporate well and heat for a minute or until most of the liquid is absorbed by the quinoa.
- Place your zucchini boats and peppers on a baking tray and carefully spoon the fillings into them. Top with shredded cheese. Bake them for 15 minutes or until the cheese is golden.
- The ground beef and quinoa stuffed vegetable boats are ready to be served. Let them cool for a minute before serving,
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