Zucchini halves house a mirepoix of carrots, onions, spinach and the “meat” of the zucchini tossed with parmigiano-reggiano cheese and flavored with a pesto sauce.
Ingredients: 2 carrots, 1 small onion, 1 cup of spinach (finely chopped) 2-4 tablespoons of cheese, 2 tablespoons of breadcrumbs, 2 tablespoons of pesto sauce, 1 egg and the scooped inside of the zucchini.
Preheat oven to 350 F
Bring a large pot of water to a boil and add about 4 medium zucchini, parboiling the vegetable for 5 minutes. Remove them with tongs and let cool. Slice the zucchini lengthwise and scoop out the insides. I use an instrument that resembles an ice cream scoop, but smaller, a melon scoop (you know the kind that makes those fancy, perfect little balls for fruit salads) or you can gently cut the insides with a knife, taking care not to puncture through to the zucchini skin.
Toss carrots and onion in a food processor, put aside and add one cup of fresh spinach leaves (finely chopped or lightly processed). Mix all veggies in a bowl, adding one egg, approximately two tablespoons of basil pesto and two heaping tablespoons of parmigiano-reggiano cheese.
Lightly spray the pan with olive or canola oil for less messy cleanup! Fill the zucchini shells with equal parts. I added very little bread crumbs, about two tablespoons and sprinkle some on the top of the stuffed zucchini, just before placing them into the oven for approximately 45 minutes.
This dish uses very little oil (just what there is from the basil pesto) and no meat for a healthy transition.
I do not sauté the ingredients, because I am keeping it on the lower side of the calorie spectrum. Mix the vegetables raw, along with one egg, cheese and basil pesto to fill a medium zucchini shell.
You can choose to put cooked ground turkey in the recipe and it would make a delicious meal or go sans the meat for a leaner option. I prefer this dish, meatless as a side vegetable.
Get colorful or creative by adding red peppers or some chopped mushrooms. It is fool proof and requires little measurement and ingredients that can be interchanged.
*My recipes can sometimes be a bit vague, because I am of the Italian school of thought that one should experiment with cooking and be adventurous with the ingredients. Life is not black and white, nor should our cooking be so rigid. I tend to migrate towards recipes that offer freedom for creative expression as I do for most things in my life!
** Of course, I do not encourage this with every recipe and know that baking is a science and that is why I don’t proclaim to be a baker. I do suggest that you allow yourself some slack and realize that cooking can be fun and experimenting is the best part, along with the actual eating, of course.