Health & Food

Sausage and Quinoa Stuffed Zucchini

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Today’s recipe can be made three ways; sweet, spicy/sweet or spicy/spicy!  I, as a lover of all things spicy (but not so spicy that I can’t actually taste my food), chose to make the “spicy/sweet” version (best of both worlds).  I love adding cayenne for spice.  What about you?  They say hot foods, like cayenne pepper, can actually cool you down in these hot summer months.  Your mouth might be on fire, but your body reacts by sweating, and in turn cooling you down (at least that’s what they tell me…).  Perhaps this cooling effect is why you have noticed that cayenne pepper is popping up in many of your favorite summer recipes.  I’ve been adding spice to recipes for quite some time now, remember my spicy granola??  Speaking of hot and spicy, Nick has chili peppers growing in our garden, does anyone have ideas for what to do with them?

I rarely use whole spicy peppers in my cooking, as I feel that it’s just so much easier to use the “already prepared” hot spices, like cayenne, chili pepper, etc (read about the many health benefits of spices here).  All I can think of to do with the peppers is chop them and add them to a slow cooker dish like this pork dish I made a couple years ago.  Any other ideas you’d like to share with me? We have about twenty peppers so I guess I should just start Googling.

So anyway, the reason you are here today, the stuffed zucchini!  As you may or may not know, Nick has been growing zucchini in our garden for about three years now.  Every year I feel like they get bigger in size (could be due to the large amount of water Columbus, Ohio gets over the summer).  While large is great, it doesn’t make for a very tasty zucchini (less sweet, less flavor, typically).  However, when you find a good recipe and stuff them with the right ingredients (such as these crab stuffed zucchini) all of a sudden they aren’t so bad, and bigger may be better after all!

Sausage and Quinoa Stuffed Zucchini

Ingredients

  • 1 Tbsp. extra virgin olive oil
  • 3 links sweet or hot turkey or chicken sausage (casings removed)**
  • 1 small onion, chopped **
  • ½ cup quinoa
  • 1 cup water
  • 1 cup quartered grape or cherry tomatoes
  • 1 tsp. dried marjoram
  • ½-3/4 tsp. cayenne pepper (more or less to taste)
  • 4 medium (or 2 large) zucchini
  • ¼ tsp. freshly ground pepper
  • ⅓ cup finely shredded parmesan cheese

Instructions

  1. Heat oil in a large saucepan over medium-high heat. Add sausage and onion and cook, breaking the sausage into small pieces, until no longer pink, about 5 minutes (see note below if using pre-cooked sausage or if not using onion). Add quinoa and water and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to maintain a simmer, cover and cook, stirring once or twice, until the water is absorbed and the quinoa is tender, 15 to 20 minutes. Remove from heat and stir in tomatoes, cayenne and marjoram.
  2. Meanwhile, cut zucchini in half lengthwise. Cut a thin slice off the bottoms so each half sits flat. Scoop out the pulp/seeds, leaving a ½-inch shell. (Discard the pulp.) Place the zucchini in a microwave-safe dish and sprinkle with pepper and salt. Cover and microwave on High until tender-crisp, 3 to 4 minutes. Uncover.
  3. Position rack in upper third of oven; preheat broiler to high.
  4. Transfer zucchini to a broiler-safe pan (or pans). Fill with the quinoa mixture and sprinkle with cheese. Broil on the upper rack until the cheese is melted, about 2 minutes.

Notes

** NOTE: If you are following a low FODMAPs diet, omit the onion and replace the flavor by using a Tuscan or garlic-infused olive oil instead of regular olive oil. Also, look for a sausage that is minimally seasoned (most sausage has garlic and onion). I like the Al Fresco Sweet Italian (precooked) sausage (free of garlic and onion!). If you are extra sensitive to garlic and onion you may be better off just using ground turkey or in this recipe.

NOTE: If using pre-cooked sausage, cut into small pieces and remove casing as you are citing (it will start to peel off). Also, wait until the last 5 minutes of cooking time (after the quinoa and water has been added) to add the sausage. No need to add it at the beginning.
NOTE: If you are not using onion, simply heat the onion and then add the quinoa right away.

Nutrition Information

Serving size: 2 halves Calories: 290 Fat: 13 g Carbohydrates: 23 g Sugar: 7 g Sodium: 625 mg Fiber: 4 g Protein: 22 g

While the original recipe didn’t give the option of using just two zucchini, I did because like I said, ours are huge.  It worked just fine.  I hope you enjoy these as much as we did!

No, I don’t normally give her food on the kitchen floor. Don’t judge. And yes, I gave her a piece from the end of the zucchini, without cayenne!

See you next week with a “Dairy Free Coconut and Raspberry Ice Cream” recipe. Until then, since perhaps you’re wanting some more cayenne in your life, check out this recipe I plan on making soon for Brown Sugar Ice Cream with Cayenne Spiced Walnuts.  I know, I’m a month late on the ice cream posts (July was National Ice Cream Month). Forgive me.  See you next week!

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