Stuffed Zucchini with Quinoa and Mushrooms

Zucchini Stuffed with Quinoa and Mushrooms in Tomato SauceOn the Balkans they LOVE stuffed veggies – from eggplants , tomatoes and onions, to vine leaves in the summer and fermented cabbage leaves in the winter.

Although there are some variations in the different parts of the region, the basic idea is the same – if you can carve it or roll it and put something in it – just do it. And it’s delicious every time – each veggie gives it’s distinctive flavour to the rice based filling and the filling itself can vary according to the product availability for the season. Such a richness in taste and substance!

For this vegan culinary endeavor to the Balkans, I have created a zucchini in basil tomato sauce recipe and replaced the traditional rice with quinoa, to make the meal gluten-free.

What you need for 2 people is:

2 large zucchini, they should be about 5 cm (2 inch) in diameter at the widest part

200 grams of white mushrooms, cut into slices

150 grams of quinoa (I have used red quinoa here, but white will be fine as well)

300 ml water

3-4 pieces of spring onions, chopped

2-3 cloves of garlic, chopped

a pinch of black pepper, paprika, cumin seeds and turmeric

olive oil

For the basil tomato sauce

4 average tomatoes, peeled. If there aren’t any nice ones available, tomato passata is fine, just make sure it’s made of tomatoes, not corn flour

2-3 cloves of garlic, crushed

a handful of fresh basil leaves + some for decoration

ground black pepper to taste

olive oilThe Ingredients Before

Cut the zucchini into 5-7 cm (2-3 inches) cylinders. Use a teaspoon to carve them and make them like little cups and put aside for now. The sides should be 2-3 mm thick, but try not to crack them. I’ll call these”the zucchini cups”.

Put some olive oil (or other vegetable oil that you prefer) into a frying pan to heat it. Add the black pepper, the paprika, the turmeric and the cumin seeds into the cold oil and wait until tiny bubbles start to appear – now it is hot enough and the spices have released their magical flavours.

Add the mushrooms and mix well. Once they start to soften, in about 4-5 minutes, put the garlic and the spring onions in, cook for another minute and then add the quinoa. Mix well and pour the water in. Cover it and lower the heat – cook for approximately 20 minutes until the quinoa is tender.

In the meantime, you can prepare the basil tomato sauce – put all the ingredients into a large bowl and make it into a puree with a food processor.  And that’s it.

Once your quinoa is ready, use the teaspoon to fill the zucchini, try to stuff them tightly. Put the zucchini cups in a baking tray and pour the basil tomato sauce around. Cover with aluminium foil and bake in a preheated oven (180 C/360 F) for 30 minutes.

Serve decorated with some basil leaves. Bon Appetit!

Vegan Is Good!

Delicious Chole with Beetroot Leaves and Okra

I just can’t get enough of the richness of fruits and vegetables in the late summer. So many colors, so many tastes, so much abundance – this is THE time of the year to be on plant based diet as often as possible.

Combining the seasonal treasures and the tradition of the Indian cuisine, here it is, my version of a delicious homemade vegan chole. Be careful – it’s hot!

Chole with Beetroot Leaves and Okra

For 2 you’ll need just 20 minutes and:

1 can of chickpeas, drained

200 ml tomato puree

200 g beetroot leaves, stems removed, coarsely chopped

200 g okra, the whole fruit

3-4 cloves of garlic, finely chopped

a thumb sized piece of ginger, peeled and finely chopped

a handful of fresh coriander, finely chopped

1 red hot chili pepper

2-3 tbsp of vegetable oil

1 tbsp sesame oil

Chole masala to taste, or if you don’t have any you can make it with the following ingredients:

1/2 teaspoon of each of the following – cumin, ground back pepper, amchur (dried mango), cardamom, chili powder

1 cinnamon stick

Make sure you’ve got the ingredients prepared before you start cooking because it goes very quickly.

Use a large pan to heat the two types of oil mixed. Add all the spices and the cinnamon stick and leave until tiny bubbles start to appear. Now add the garlic, the ginger and the chili pepper. Mix well. (isn’t the smell divine already? I think i can eat just that with some bread…)

In a minute (don’t let the garlic turn black) add the beetroot leaves and the okra, mix well again and cover, let it simmer for 4-5 minutes and stir occasionally.

Add the chickpeas and the tomato puree, mix well, turn the heat to the lowest point, cover and let it cook for another 10-15 minutes, until the okra is tender. If it looks too thick, add a little bit of water.

Remove from the heat and sprinkle the coriander on top. Serve as it is for gluten free or with some bread or rice.

Vegan is Good!


Minty Skewers with Tahini Sauce

One word: simplicity.


What you need for 2:

300 g cherry tomatoes

1 average zucchini

1 eggplant

1 onion

300 g mushrooms

3 tbsp sesame tahini

1 lemon

a handful of fresh mint leaves

4 tbsp olive oil

3-4 cloves garlic

black pepper

skewer sticks

Mix the tahini, the olive oil, the lemon juice, the black pepper, the minced mint and garlic  in a bowl and put aside. In a larger bowl put the chopped zucchini, eggplant, onions and mushrooms. Try to cut them into cubes similar in size. Make a small incision on the side of the cherry tomatoes and add them in the bowl. Pour on the veggies 2/3 of the tahini sauce, mix well and put in the fridge for at least one hour. Keep the remaining tahini sauce aside.

Just before grilling take out the veggies and put them on the skewer sticks. Discard the remaining liquid. Put the skewers on a hot grill and cook until the zucchini and the eggplants are tender – the rest cooks faster.

Put them on a plate, pour the remaining tahini sauce on top and serve.

Bon appetit and Vegan Is Good!

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