Zucchinis stuffed with quinoa, feta and pine nuts

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Mr Veggie and I went to the local farmers market last weekend and bought these beautiful round zucchinis for super cheap. They are absolutely perfect for stuffing. We also got some amazing swiss chard and made this, which was delicious. Mr Veggie got some preservative-free sausages as well, which he had on the side of the stuffed zucchini – they looked pretty amazing and were a bargain. I’ve been on holidays this week, and it was nice to have some time to cook again, which can be tricky during the semester. Being a med student can be challenging time-wise, and in addition to medicine I am studying a grad certificate in teaching and a master of public health. This is on top of weekly volunteering and a couple of committee positions, so you can see how it becomes hard to find the time to cook good food. Writing that all down made it sound like more than I realised! In saying that though, what me (and Mr Veggie) eat is important to me, and I do try to make good choices when I have the energy. It can be all too easy to fall into the kinda-healthy pasta bake trap, and I am going to try to be better this new term at med school (paediatrics).

Zucchini stuffed with quinoa, feta and pine nuts

This recipe freezes well – so feel free to make double and freeze for future dinners or work lunches.

  • 4 round zucchinis
  • 2 cloves garlic, sliced
  • 1/2 cup quinoa, rinsed
  • 1/2 cup risoni or rice
  • 1/4 cup pine nuts, lightly toasted
  • 2 cups stock (salt-reduced vegetable or chicken)
  • Crumbled feta – approx 1/2 a standard ‘block’
  • Handful or two of green leaves (I used baby spinach and baby kale)
  • Good handful of parsley, chopped roughly
  • To serve: a side salad or roasted vegies (+ sausages if you’re like Mr Veggie!)

Preheat oven to 180˚C. Slice the ‘lids’ off the zucchinis and hollow them out, taking care not to pierce the ‘shells’. Roughly chop the zucchini flesh and fry on medium heat with a glug of olive oil. Add garlic and a little salt.

Once the zucchini has cooked down to about 1/2 it’s volume, add quinoa and rice/risoni, and stock. Once stock has been mostly absorbed (but still quite ‘sloppy’), take off heat, season generously with pepper, and stir through pine nuts, parsley and 1/2 the feta.

Spoon filling into zucchinis, topping with a bit more feta before popping the lids back on them and baking in the oven until the filling and zucchinis are cooked (around 30 mins). If you want to serve with roasted veggies – fill the rest of the tray with parboiled potatoes and sweet potatoes. I usually stir a little rosemary and garlic through towards the end of cooking to give them a bit more flavour.

 

 

Quinoa Crackle Banana Bread

Quinoa Crackle Banana Cake 1

You may have sensed a bit of a theme here….this is indeed another healthy(ish) make-ahead snack option. Possibly my favourite so far, especially because it is SO EASY. The key is to get really nice juicy big dates, their caramel flavour turns what are otherwise plain ingredients (including raw quinoa!) into something that tastes good enough to eat for dessert.

Quinoa Crackle Banana Cake 2

Quinoa Crackle Date-nana Bread

Inspired by Deb Perleman’s Crackly banana bread with millet

  • 3 large very ripe bananas
  • 1 egg
  • 1/3 cup extra virgin coconut oil (in oil form, warm it if solid)
  • 1/3 cup dark muscovado sugar
  • 1/4 cup liquid sweetener of choice – I used half maple, half golden syrup (as maple is a bit pricey for my student budget)
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • Good pinch of salt
  • 1 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 1/4 tsp ground nutmeg
  • 1/4 tsp ground cloves
  • 1 1/2 cups wholemeal flour
  • Scant 1/3 cup raw quinoa (the red kind looks particularly pretty)
  • 7 big juicy dates, pitted and cut into small chunks (approx 0.5×0.5cm) – or 8 smaller dates
  • Heaped 1/2 cup of walnuts, roughly chopped

Preheat the oven to 180˚C and generously butter a loaf tin.

In the bottom of a large bowl, mash bananas with a fork or the back of a wooden spoon to desired consistency – I’m not a big fan of banana chunks so I mashed mine until very smooth, but feel free to leave a few lumps if you like that.

Whisk in egg, then oil, brown sugar, then maple syrup or sugar of your choosing. Sprinkle baking soda, salt, cinnamon, nutmeg and cloves over the batter and stir until combined. Stir in flour until just combined, then quinoa, then dates and walnuts.

Pour your mixture into the loaf tin and bake until a fork or skewer comes out clean, about 45 minutes. Leave to cool for a few minutes and then transfer to a baking rack. Try to avoid cutting into while still warm (good luck).

Storage: these keep beautifully sliced up in the freezer. Be sure to put them in the freezer quickly though otherwise you might eat it all before you get a chance…