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Tuesday, August 2, 2011

You are What You EAT

I was thinking today that if we are what we eat, then me and mine are now green (and skinny) zucchini. I have been talking A LOT about zukes lately (like here and here) because I have a ton of them. I have asked you guys what you make with them, how you cook them, and if you like them...and you have given me tons of ideas and then even more ideas. Lately, I have been making salads with julienned raw zucchini on top (like straws) and, amazingly, my family is eating them up. Something I realized is that thinly sliced raw zucchini doesn't actually have much taste and it just soaks up what you put on it (like salad dressing!).
So, with zucchini on my mind still (you should see my crisper drawer - - it's really about 1/2 full of just zucchini right now), I have decided not to kill you with *another* zucchini filled set of menus for the week....but, as you may guess, we WILL be having salads every night! hahhahahaa!

I first mentioned zucchini boats in a previous post. But, I thought I would do a step by step on how to make them. They really are fast (with a little prep), easy, and good for you. And, I think if you have a picky eater, adding a little faux sail on top (toothpicks, tape, construction paper, and markers), you could convince any little one to eat them up....or at least play with them - and maybe some would get on their fingers...and into their mouth!!! Well, you can hope, right?

Zucchini Boats

3 - 4 medium sized zucchinis, sliced in half long-ways
1/2 T. olive oil
1 clove of minced or shredded garlic
1/2 onion, diced
1/2 large carrot, shredded
1/2 cup ground round (or equivalent)
1/4 cup bread crumbs
egg replacer equivalent to one egg (optional)
grated vegan mozzarella (optional)
spices (dried oregano, basil, parsley)

Preheat oven to 400F. Take raw zucchini and slice long-ways. Scoop out inside of zucchini, leaving approx 1/4 - 1/2" around the skin (to serve as the "boat"; I used a metal 1/4 tsp that has a shape like a melon baller).

After removing zucchini pulp, place zucchini cut side up on a baking sheet. Spray zucchini with olive oil spray or other cooking spray. Place in oven and cook for approximately 15 minutes or until starting to bubble slightly and/or turn light brown. Remove from oven.

While zucchini boats are cooking, chop or mash zucchini pulp. Saute diced onions for a minute or two and then add shredded carrots in a skillet on the stove top with olive oil until translucent (approximately 7 minutes). Add in garlic and let cook for approximately 30 seconds. Top with zucchini pulp and stir to combine. Add in spices and continue to cook for 3 - 4 minutes. Add in ground round and cook for another 5 minutes (tasting until the mixture is cooked to taste).

(If using the egg replacer, let zucchini mixture cool slightly and mix in egg replacer, a little bit at a time, to help hold everything together. This is not necessary, but will help keep the mixture together a bit better).
Sprinkle mixture with breadcrumbs (to help absorb some moisture) and stir in, adding more when needed. Add enough that the mixture dries out, but be careful not to over-add bread crumbs.
Pile zucchini, onion, and ground round mixture into zucchini boats, place filled zucchini back on cooking sheet and return to the oven for approximately 10 minutes. Pull out from oven, add on cheese, if using, and continue to cook for another 5 minutes or until the cheese is starting to melt.

Remove from oven and let cool slightly before serving. I usually serve this as a main dish with some rice or couscous on the side and another vegetable or a small salad, but it could also serve as a nice side for a more substantial meal. To make these ahead, you can cook the zucchini boats and the zucchini pulp mixture ahead of time (I usually do mine 1 - 2 days ahead), store them in separate containers in the fridge, and then compile and cook in the oven when you are getting ready for dinner. It's an easy way to put dinner on the table in 15 minutes!

(For some reason unknown, I didn't take a picture of the final "product"; however, I DID have it for lunch the next day, so I can tell you it's great....I guess I was too hungry forgot to take the picture.) Since I have since found said picture, I included it above!!! :)

What's for dinner at your house tonight?

More later! :)