Friday, October 19, 2012

South-of-the-border Stuffed Zucchini

This stuffed zucchini dish is inspired by some of the flavors of Oaxaca, Mexico…in particular their take on the popular Chile Rellenos.  Instead of just being stuffed with cheese it has a delicious savory mixture that is out of this world.  In an effort to keep the “naughty” factor to a minimum I decided to do a healthy recipe inspired by these flavors.  The salsa that accompanies this dish is more smoky than hot so definitely give it a try.  This salsa is also great on eggs, tacos, or whatever you like to put salsa on.

  • 2 Large Zucchini
  • 1 Pound Ground Beef (or 2 C. Chicken Meat*, chopped)
  • 1 Small Onion, diced
  • 1 Jalapeño Pepper, diced (remove seeds to lessen the heat)
  • 2 Garlic Cloves, minced
  • 2 Tablespoons Fresh Oregano, chopped (2 t. dried)
  • 1 teaspoon dried Thyme
  • 1 teaspoon dried Marjoram
  • ¼ Cup Raisins, chopped
  • ¼ Cup Green Olives, chopped
  • 1 Cup Unseasoned Tomato Sauce (just tomato)
  • 2 teaspoons Sea Salt

Smoky Salsa
  • 5 Large Dried Guajillo Peppers (Any large dried chili will work)
  • ½ Cup Unseasoned Tomato Sauce
  • 1 Scallion
  • 1 Garlic Clove
  • 2 Tablespoons Lime Juice
  • 1 teaspoon Sea Salt

Heat oven to 350 degrees.

First, cook the ground beef (if using chicken just skip this part) until browned.  Add the onion, jalapeño pepper, garlic, oregano, thyme, and marjoram; cook for another two minutes (until onions are softened).

Second, add the raisins, olives, tomato sauce, and salt; combine thoroughly and remove from heat.

Third, cut the zucchini in half horizontally and hollow out fleshy center (where the seeds are) with a spoon.  Fill each half generously with stuffing, using all of it.  Place in casserole and bake for 30 – 35 minutes; until the zucchini is just barely tender.

Fourth, while the zucchini cooks, place the chilies in a small saucepan and just cover with water.  Heat to a boil and let stand for 10 – 15 minutes.  Place softened chilies in a blender with tomato sauce, scallion, garlic, lime juice, salt, and about 1 Cup of chili water; blend thoroughly. 

Fifth, dump the rest of the soaking water and put the salsa into the saucepan.  Heat to a boil and let it go for about a minute.  Turn the heat off.  Salsa is done!

Finally, when the zucchini is done spoon a little salsa onto plates, place one stuffed zucchini half on top and spoon a little more over the top.  Enjoy!

I know it looks like it can be a lot of work but it really is SUPER easy!  The salsa is great for many things and will be good for about 2 – 3 weeks in the refrigerator—though it doesn’t usually last that long in my house.  If you prefer a little more tamed flavor you can use tomato sauce instead of salsa.  One more note on dried chilies for those who aren’t familiar.  Check the label on the bag because it will usually indicate which are hot and which are not.      

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