A while back I posted a picture of the monster zucchini I got from a pal’s garden and since then there was a bit of silence on that front thanks to a flurry of fig-themed recipes and then a week without internet. Well, the recipe is finally here in all its savoury glory! I absolutely adore getting fresh produce from people because it gives me an excuse to think on my feet for what to do with unexpected but very much appreciated ingredients. I understand, of course, that not everyone has monster zucchinis lying around, so this recipe works even with normal-sized zucchinis when you’re planning to feed a bunch of people or want to have a delicious stew filling on the ready to add to baked potatoes boats, rice, or in a wheat or lettuce wrap.After a super long holiday, interspersed with some horrifying shifts at work, I’m finally back in action behind my desk and sporting my name tag. Sometimes it’s good to stop faffing around and get back to the real world, as delightful as months of daytime pajamas is for the soul. There’s some super wonky weather going on outside, half cold and then blazing hot, but something like this zucchini boat is an anytime meal, and works wonders to restore the spirits.
Baby marrows really are a lifesaver – I can eat an entire litre tub clean, with salsa, or even roasted with chocolate sauce (my favourite). Monster zucchinis, however, are something of a rare feature in our house, because our own garden has decided to be something of a fail, and thus my excitement with this dish was so immense that I think I preened and gloated a fair bit. Can anyone blame me? Just look at this glorious beast!
This dish is pretty easy to make and the filling alone will last you quite a while, which is my usual style of cooking, because bulk is the only way to go if you want to have a life outside the kitchen (as much as one might love it).
Ingredients (serves 8 – 10)
- 2 cups soya nuggets (I use Nature’s choice – use whichever brand you feel comfortable with, preparation technique might differ)
- 2 cups cooked chickpeas
- 2 cups pumpkin, steamed
- 1.5 cups boiling water
- 1/3 cup nutritional yeast
- 1 TBSP onion powder
- spices to taste (I used smoked paprika, white pepper and nutmeg)
- 1/4 cup tikka sauce (or some other hot cooking sauce – check to see if GF)
- 2 TBSP apple cider vinegar
- a monster zucchini (ours was about 35cm in length, 15 cm across)
- 1 can chopped tomatoes
- 1 TBSP apricot jam
- 2 cups basil, packed and chopped finely
- 2 green peppers, chopped finely
- 1 can artichoke hearts, chopped roughly (approx 6)
- Optional: 2 TBSP piquanté peppers or a smaller quantity of chopped chili peppers
- Optional: 2 TBSP tahini
- Optional: nuts of choice for sprinkling
- Optional: gravy to serve
- Preheat the oven to 180C and line a large baking tray.
- Slice your monster zucchini or smaller marrows in half.
- Scoop out the seeds of your zucchini if it’s large, otherwise do not fret if it isn’t seeded (aka baby marrows).
- Place them cut side down on the baking tray and poke holes along the skin at intervals.
- Bake for 45 minutes.
- Meanwhile, boil your nuggets for 15 minutes in a large pot, then drain and add with the rest of the ingredients (except optional tahini, nuts and gravy) and 1 cup of the boiling water and bring to a boil for 2 – 3 minutes.
- Simmer for 30 minutes, stirring occasionally and adding the other 1/2 cup of boiling water as necessary. The mixture shouldn’t be runny but it must have some moisture as it will be cooked down in the oven.
- Once your stew mixture is near done you can fold in the optional tahini for extra indulgence.
- Once the zucchini has been baked for 45 minutes, flip it/them over and fill with your stew mixture.
- Return to the oven and bake another 30 or until the stew mixture is relatively thick and you can poke the zucchini flesh easily with a fork.
- Sprinkle with crushed nuts if desired and serve with gravy. Try this wheat-free mushroom gravy!
- May be frozen. The best method I’ve found of re-heating is to let it thaw and then heat it for 6 or so minutes in a microwave steamer.
This stew is just super fun and easy – sometimes I love a protein pow and this is that exactly, plus some super flavour thanks to the herbs and spices, jam and nutritional yeast (it always makes everything better). If you want a creamier filling try adding 1/2 cup carrot purée (baby food aisle for the lazy).
I guess it’s always difficult to tell but the zucchini flesh is SO tender and delicious – it will turn out a lot more golden than mine here – I forgot to bake it face-down for the first half hour…whoops. :p Either way, nom nom! I managed to fill both halves of the monster zucchini with the filling and ended up giving away half because it was too much food, even for Man-thing and I in ravenous mode.
Gravy makes everything magical! The gravy pictured isn’t the wheat-free mushroom gravy I recommended because we didn’t have shrooms on hand, but that is hands-down the best gravy I’ve had yet and is super easy to whip up.
Can you withstand the force of a thousand photos of me slicing gleefully through the delicious zucchini stew monster? Not everyone is a fan of the slightly thicker skin of a larger zucchini (aka Man-thing), so he scooped out the flesh and stew filling and munched it like that, but I love that outer layer so I munched mine just like this and it was awesomesauce. Each to their own!
Yuuummm! Pretty much all my favourite things in one spot. You can use any kind of cooked bean you have on hand if you lack chickpeas int he pantry, use fresh parsley instead of basil, and pretty much chop and change the little details if you really want to or don’t have everything in stock. This recipe is made for the days when you’re left with bare essentials in the house (and are like me and stock up on boxes of zucchinis), hence the use of soy nuggets alongside the chickpeas and the jam for a touch of sweetness. If you know how to handle tempeh and seitan (which I’ve never worked with) you can also try replacing the nuggets, but I can’t vouch for that kind of funny business :p
So there you have it – an awesome dish to serve to multiple guests or to stock up for the week ahead. It makes for a hearty lunch or dinner and goes with pretty much everything. Plus, no oil (unless you add tahini), low carb, high protein and all that business for those who eyeball the stats. One of my resolutions this year is to figure out the nitty gritty of adding a nutritional breakdown of all my goodies for everyone out there who are as dork as I am about the technical side of food. Even if I don’t follow any set guidelines about carb limits for the day or whatnot, it’s still interesting to get a more accurate idea of what it is you’re consuming. Meals like this don’t even phase me, however, because it’s all healthy ingredients meant to fuel your body and sate the monster that lives in your belly (or at least I have one in mine!).
Q: Do you calculate nutritional information for food you make or just go with your gut when it comes to making food choices?