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!

Rainbow Quinoa

Beautiful colours all around, beautiful colours in my plate.

This very easy recipe has much more than the good looks to give. Combines a bunch of seasonal vegs, has both quinoa AND spinach in it (!!!), it’s gluten free and in the end is quite healthy. How about that, he-he.

Ingredients for 2:

1 teacup quinoa

150 g squash, peeled, washed and diced

150 g beet, peeled, washed and diced

300 g spinach, washed and chopped

1 tomato, diced

1 small onion, chopped

2 tbsp vegetable oil

1/2 teaspoon cumin

1/2 teaspoon dried coriander

the juice of 1/2 lemon

paprika and ground pepper

2 1/2 teacups water (to boil the quinoa)

Three very easy steps:

Boil the diced squash and the beet separately (to keep their bright colours) for about 15 minutes each, until soft. Pour the water out and put aside.

Put the quinoa, the onions, the cumin, the oil, the pepper, the paprika and the water in a large pot, bring to boiling, then lower the heat. After 5-7 minutes add the spinach, mix well and cook until the water evaporates. When ready, move it to a large bowl.

Add the squash, the beet and the tomato. Then the coriander, the lemon juice and mix. Served both warm and cold.

Vegan is Good!

P.S. Ideas for blue coloured vegs?

Green Quinoa Recipe

The dominating colour all around is green. Everything is coming back to life, eager to make the most of the abundant sunlight.

So am I. Not that my hair is turning green or something, but it really feels like this is the right colour for food right now. And this is how I came up with this very easy recipe.

What you need to feed 2 with the meal on the pic is:

1 teacup of white quinoa, washed

2-3 small courgettes, sliced

200 g spinach, stems removed, cut in large pieces

200 g white mushrooms, sliced

2-3 cloves of garlic, chopped

2 tbsp vegetable oil

2 teacups water

1/2 teaspoon crushed muscat

1/2 teaspoon dried coriander

2 pinches of chili

paprika and grounded black pepper

Heat the oil in a large frying pan (ideally with a cover) with the pepper and the paprika in it. When hot put in the garlic for 10 seconds and then add the courgettes  and the mushrooms. Cover and lower the heat. Let it cook for 4-5 minutes.

Add the spinach and mix well. Now add the quinoa and the water and mix again. Sprinkle the coriander, the muscat and the chili on top.

Cook without the cover until all the water is absorbed . The quinoa should become soft and transparent.

Vegan is Good!

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