Unlike many vegetarian dishes which are basically “mush,” stuffed veggies are a cohesive main dish, with real structure. (They are, however, more time-consuming to make.) Stuffed zucchini often comes out soggy and tasteless. Cook’s Illustrated suggests pre-roasting the zuchinni cut-side down for a flavorful sear before filling them with hearty vegetables and seasonings and baking them briefly. The recipe is based on the original Cook’s Illustrated recipe, but I made a few changes for health/ease of preparation)
Serves 4 as a main dish or 8 as a side dish
STUFFED ZUCCHINI WITH CORN, BLACK BEANS, AND CHIPOTLE CHILES
The spicy chiles are complemented nicely by the juicy, almost sweet zuchinni flesh and savory black beans and cheese. I think this is a marvelous combination. Fresh corn is slightly sweeter and much more crisp, but I use frozen corn when fresh is out of season. Ditto tomatoes, although I think the canned Muir Glen fire roasted tomatoes are better than the ones found at the supermarket most of the year. I’ve tried these without the cheese and they’re okay, but nothing to get excited about. Unfortunately, it’s the browned cheese that really brings the dish together.
* 4 medium zucchini (about 8 ounces each), washed
* Salt and ground black pepper
* 2 tablespoons olive oil
* 1 medium onion, chopped fine
* 1 cup fresh corn kernels cut from 2 medium ears (or frozen corn)
* 5 large garlic cloves, minced
* 3 medium chipotle chiles en adobo, minced (about 3 tablespoons) or 0.5-1? tsp dried chipotle powder
* 2 medium tomatoes (about 12 ounces), seeded and chopped (or 1 15-ounce can diced fire-roasted tomatoes, drained well)
* 1 can (15 ounce) black beans, drained well (about 1 1/2 cups)
* 1/3 cup chopped fresh cilantro leaves (more?)
* 6 ounces Monterey Jack cheese, shredded (about 1 1/2 cups) (or other cheese)
1. Adjust one oven rack to upper-middle position and second oven rack to lowest position, and remove baking stone if you have one. Place a rimmed baking sheet on the lower rack and heat oven to 400 degrees.
2. Meanwhile, halve each zucchini lengthwise. With small spoon, scoop out seeds and most of flesh so that walls of zucchini are 1/4 inch thick. Season cut sides of zucchini with salt and pepper, and brush with 1 tablespoons oil; set zucchini halves cut-side down on hot baking sheet on lower rack. Roast zucchini until slightly softened and skins are wrinkled, about 10 minutes; Using tongs, flip zucchini halves over on baking sheet and set aside.
3. Heat remaining tablespoon oil in 12-inch skillet over medium heat until shimmering but not smoking, about 2 minutes. Add onion and cook, stirring occasionally, until softened and beginning to brown, about 10 minutes. Increase heat to medium-high; stir in corn and cook until almost tender, about 3 minutes. Add garlic and chipotle chiles; cook until fragrant, about 30 seconds. Stir in tomatoes and black beans; cook, stirring occasionally, until heated through, about 3 minutes. Off heat, stir in cilantro and 1/2 cup cheese and salt and pepper to taste.
4. Divide filling evenly among squash halves on baking sheet, spooning about 1/2 cup into each, and pack lightly; sprinkle with remaining cheese. Return baking sheet to oven, this time to upper rack, and bake zucchini until heated through and cheese is spotty brown, about 6 minutes. Serve immediately.
(This recipe seems to make about 2 cups too much filling, and could be reduced).
Without cheese: B-