Quinoa & Zucchini Stuffed Tomatoes
The greenhouses in and around Calgary are pumping out the most delicious and flavourful tomatoes! If you are growing some on your balcony or in your yard, they are surely not ready but when they are you will also be able to get local zucchini too.
When produce is picked close to home it can be picked at optimal ripeness. A plant grows by pulling nutrients out of the soil. We can't eat soil, so we rely on plants to turn the nutrients into things that we can digest. When a fruit or vegetable has to come from far away, it is often picked long before all of the nutrients have been pulled out of the soil. There are actually less nutrients in a tomato that was picked when it was green rather than one that was picked when it was red, ripe and juicy! And local or not, your produce is only as good as the soil it was grown in.
Whatever your reason for buying local (nutrients, taste, your local economy, etc) we all must realize that we do live very far away from a year around growing season and when we do have to eat things that have travelled from afar we can show much gratitude that we are not just eating the local winter fare. However, now that much is growing here, enjoy it!
This recipe is adapted from an oldie but goodie cookbook called 'The Healthy Kitchen'. It was put together by the famous duo, Andrew Weil and Rosie Daley. This is one of those meals that can become a staple - seasonal, tasty and relatively easy - you might come back to it every year from now until the late fall.
These are filling and satisfying and are a complete protein even without any animal products due to the quinoa and they are equally as delicious stuffed into a squash or bell pepper (also bursting from greenhouses around here!). You can cook these in a 350 degree oven if you are making them on a cool day but we are going to make these ones on the bbq to keep the house cool. Truth be told, the stuffing is so yummy that you could even just eat it on its own...
Quinoa & Zucchini Stuffed Tomatoes Serve with a side salad for a meal or as a side dish to one of your favourites!
1/2 cup white or tricoloured quinoa 2 TBSP ghee or coconut oil 1 cup of the stock of your choice, or water (stock is recommended for lots of flavour) pinch of salt and pepper 1 tsp italian seasoning (or a bit of oregano, basil and thyme)
1/2 medium onion, diced 1 cup finely grated zucchini (mushrooms would also be great if you are waiting for local zucchini!) 2 TBSP currants or raisins would be fine in a pinch 1 TBSP chopped fresh basil 1/2 tsp yellow curry powder or substitute cumin 1/4 tsp paprika 2 TBSP freshly squeezed lemon juice 6-7 medium tomatoes
Rinse your quinoa in plenty of cool water. Melt 1 TBSP of your ghee or coconut oil in a small pot and toss the quinoa to coat. Add the water and seasonings and bring it to a boil. Cover and simmer over low heat for 15-20 mins (until the water is all gone). Remove from heat.
Now you are going to get your tomatoes ready. Angle your knife like you are going to cut the top of a pumpkin to carve a jack-o-lantern. Go all the way around and gently pop off the top and set aside. Scoop out the insides but be careful not to go too close to the sides as you want a sturdy wall to hold your stuffing. Don't throw the pulp away! If you don't think you will use it right away, throw it all in your freezer and toss it in the next time you make pasta sauce or chili.
Preheat your bbq to about 350-400 degrees. To start the stuffing, use your other TBSP of ghee or coconut oil in a cast iron or similar pan. Saute your onions, zucchini, currants, basil, curry, paprika and lemon juice over medium heat for just a couple of minutes. The stuffing you are making will continue to cook once it is in the tomatoes so no need to finish all of the cooking right now. Add your quinoa and combine everything together well. Remove from heat.
Now you are ready to fill them up! Using a spoon, fill each tomato generously and evenly and place them back into your wiped out cast iron pan or bbq safe dish.
Cook, uncovered on the top rack of the bbq for about 25 minutes checking them often. You will likely have your bbq turned down to low once it has preheated.
These would also be tasty with some fresh parmesan grated over the top during the last 5 minutes of cooking. Walnuts would also be a delicious addition to the stuffing to give some texture. We haven't tried it but you might be able to make extra of the stuffing and freeze it to make for a quick meal another day. Do what you like!
Enjoy the bounty of all that our local producers have to offer this growing season!
Recipe adapted from The Healthy Kitchen cookbook with modifications and blog post by Amy Buckman, Community Ambassador, Amaranth Stores.