I have dabbled in the world of vegetarianism, so I am fairly comfortable with creating menus that do not include meat. In fact, my 13 year old has been eating a vegetarian diet for five months, which has helped me create meals with meat that easily are transformed into vegetarian-friendly versions. However, last weekend I had a curve ball thrown at me. My husband decided he would try a week of being vegetarian.
If I have a decent amount of experience with cooking vegetarian dishes, why would his announcement be challenging? The first reason is that he does not enjoy legumes of any variety, and they are frequent go-to options. The second reason is that he has a heartier appetite than either my daughter or I, so it seemed daunting that I would be able to produce meals that were filling for him. Of course, I do love a good challenge, the first of which was our Tapas Monday dinner.
Thinking about possible dishes, I remembered a stuffed zucchini that my mom used to make as a side dish, which I always enjoyed. I decided to use the same premise but add a few more ingredients to make a heartier dish. With an assortment of vegetables, some herbs, and a melted mozzarella topping, I was sure it would be pleasing and filling. As there were no leftovers when the meal was finished, it apparently was a successful creation!
- 2 medium zucchini, cut in half lengthwise
- olive oil
- 3 garlic cloves, minced
- 8 oz. canned whole tomatoes, crushed
- 1/2 cup frozen spinach
- dried basil
- dried oregano
- salt & pepper
- fresh mozzarella
- Preheat oven to 450. Place zucchini halves on baking tray, cut sides up.
- Drizzle with olive oil, and bake for 10 minutes.
- Allow zucchini to cool, then carefully remove seeds and filling from zucchini, leaving about half an inch of a shell. Dice zucchini meat.
- Heat a tablespoon of olive oil in a saucepot over medium heat. Add garlic, and sauté for1 minute.
- Add tomatoes, frozen spinach, and zucchini. Cook, stirring occasionally, until most of the liquid has reduced. Season with basil, oregano, salt, and pepper to taste.
- Preheat broiler. Divide vegetable mixture evenly among zucchini shells. Top with slices of mozzarella cheese.
- Place under broiler for a minute or two. (Watch closely so that cheese does not burn.)
- *If you’re a regular reader, you may remember that we are buying only local produce, meat, and dairy items. As we started this project in January, we had not prepared in the fall, and our local sources of produce have sold all of their stocked items. Therefore, we have put the produce portion of our local purchasing on hold until harvesting begins.