Winter squash are colorful and abundant this time of year. Zucchini and Peppers are plentiful. Each can be stuffed to make a delicious meal!
The bowl on my kitchen counter is overflowing with beautiful squash from our wonderful CSA and farmers markets. Fortunately, they have thick, tough shells that protect the sweet, rich flesh and flavor inside, making them excellent storage vegetables.
As I wondered about recipes — I thought about my stuffed zucchini boats and stuffed peppers that turned out very savory this summer, when those veggies came in with a rush! The same ingredients will work well for the winter squash with some variations.
Ingredients For Stuffed Zucchini boats,
Slice the large zucchinis in half and whatever length you like (4-5″ are easy to serve). Gently scoop out the seeds.
Red peppers (frozen from our garden) Lentils
Red and white quinoa,
These boats will be packed with 10 grams of protein with the quinoa and lentils (plus 5 more from the other ingredients) I also used the seed and pulp since they were not over ripe. I set about chopping and relaxing.
Chopping veggies is relaxing!
Pealing garlic is easy! Press down firmly on the garlic clove with the flat side of the knife; then the peel will slip off easily. Preheat your oven to 375*.
“Fry” your veggies without oil!
Heat the pan to high and then toss your veggies on. Lower your heat to medium high, while you stir with a soft spatula. As the veggies start to brown or stick, add a frozen cube of veggie stock, or a few Tbsp of water or white wine. (Read in the Cauliflower Soup blog about making veggie stock from scraps that would otherwise be wasted)
Add the lentils, and quinoa to the mix and 1/2 cup of water. Heat the mixture through (they will finish cooking in the oven). I seasoned this with Oregano and Sage chopped fresh from the garden and some black pepper to taste. You could also go more spicy by adding Turmeric and Cumin (1/2 tsp of each, or to your liking).
Scoop your mixture into the “boats”. You DO NOT need to put any kind of oil or grease on the pan; without those, clean up is easy with just a sponge! Cook at 375* for 30 minutes. Serve fresh from the oven. Or you can freeze them, after cooling, to thaw another day — and reheat in oven with (or without) tomato sauce.
Yummy Stuffed Peppers
If you’re new to whole foods plant based, these might fill in for your old familiar favorites. You could call this recipe “Harvest Stuffed Peppers”, because it uses mostly ingredients that were ripening in a rush from the garden:
Peppers – cut in half, seeds removed
Roma tomatoes – chopped small
Zucchini – chopped small
Red potatoes – chopped small
Scallions and garlic
Wild rice – cooked
The ingredients are prepared in the same manner as above for stuffed zucchini (except no water added, just a small amount of stock as you’re “frying”). I seasoned with just pepper with the parsley so the tomato, onion and garlic flavors would be the most prominent; but you can certainly add your favorite spices.
“Vacuum Pack” to freeze the Stuffed Peppers for a delightful winter’s meal.
Stuff your halved peppers (aren’t their colors beautiful!) Cook at 375* for 20 minutes if you want to eat them today. These I “vacuum packed” without cooking by inserting a straw into the top of the bag as I sealed it, sucking out the air and removing the straw quickly as I closed the last corner. These will be fun and easy to pull out this winter; thaw in the fridge the night before I plan to use. Reheat at 350* for 15- 20 minutes. For a change up, I can add hubby Bob’s tomato sauce made from the rest of the Romas!
Stuffed Butternut Squash
Sage, thyme; salt and pepper (to taste)
The same approach can be used for making stuffed butternut squash or any other winter squash. The big difference is to start by slicing the squash in half and roast it at 350* face down until the flesh is soft to the poke of a fork (approximately 45 minutes). This will make it easy to scoop out the seeds and some of the flesh to use as part of your stuffing. Leave about 3/4 – 1″ thickness as your boat. And YES, except for the larger ones which are a bit too tough) you can eat these skins with all their fiber and other nutrients. Butternut squash is an excellent source of all four carotenoids: alpha-carotene, beta-carotene, lutein and zeaxanthin, and number of other nutrients. The link gives an accurate biochemical description of their functions without being too obtuse.
For a flavorful combination, use brown rice in the stuffing as well as some of the flesh along with veggie stock “fried” onion and mushrooms. After those have heated through add in walnuts, dried cranberries, sage, thyme, salt, and pepper. Stuff your squash and cook at 375* for another 10 to 15 minutes. This is a wonderful dish with your favorite salad; check out all our salad variations
Check out all the helpful “How do I…?” tips on our Healthy Eating Adventure cooking tips list. And most of all, I hope you can see from this blog, that you can vary your ingredients and flavorings as much as your tastebuds and imagination desire!!