Sooooo – I have a serious thing for Mexican food. I am not sure if it’s the spices, warm homemade tortillas, or the crunchiness of blue corn chips dipped in fresh pico di gallo, but something keeps me coming back for more on a constant basis. I could really live on salmon, sushi, fried okra and Mexican food. That seems like a balanced diet, right? In honor of this week’s meatless Monday, I decided to use up the huge beautiful zucchinis I got recently from Earthy Dirt Farm, an organic, pesticide free farm located in Debary Florida that does weekly farmers markets at the hospital I work in. They have some awesome produce each week and while I do bring my lunch to work, it doesn’t stop me from making a special trip to the cafeteria to check out the goodies each week. I scored big with this zucchini and it wasn’t going to go to waste.
So what do you do with a zucchini as big as your forearm? Turn it into a Mexican Zucchini Boat of course! This dish is meat free, but definitely not lacking in taste or texture. With 6 main ingredients, you will be able to stuff your face with taco flavored goodness in no time. Drizzle some spicy cilantro cream on top and you may lock yourself in a closet with the rest, fending off the poor hungry parishioners of your household with a nothing but a fork and a shining determination to eat the whole pan alone. Fortunately, this recipe makes extra filling, so you can freeze it for later, blanketed in warm tasty tortillas. Yessssssss!
I like to make taco seasoning in batches and store it in a mason jar to use for recipes like these. Homemade taco seasoning is super easy to make, and I bet if you check out your spice cabinet, there will be almost every ingredient needed to put it together. Homemade seasoning is MSG free, sodium controlled and loaded with flavor. Taco seasoning packets got nothing on this red gold.
Hollowing out zucchini can be trickier than it seems, but I have a few tricks to help make it easier so you don’t cut through the edges. Here are 4 easy steps for the perfect zucchini boat:
1) Cut a line around the inside of the zucchini with a small paring knife, about 1/2 inch from the edges, careful not to cut through the bottom.
2) Make cuts every 2 inches down the length of the zucchini to connect the main cut across.
3) Using a spoon, carefully pop out each carved out section.
4) Flip the spoon over and scrape out boats until they are smooth and there is a 1/2 inch layer of filling left in the zucchini.
Then fill them up and bake away. So easy and worth the little extra carving steps. Your friends will think you are a kitchen genius. You are a kitchen genius!
Seasonal Nutritional Highlight – Zucchini
Zucchini, italian for “small squash” where it was developed. Also known as a courgette, this slender green vegetable is a member of the summer squash family. It is by no means tiny, able to grow up to the size of a baseball bat, but are typically found to be in between 4 to 8 inches long. The very large zucchini tend to be very fibrous and not as appetizing as the smaller variety. Zucchini is at peak season during the spring and summer months depending on location. Summer squash are known to have antioxidant, blood glucose, anti-inflammatory, anti-microbial and prostate health benefits. They are a great source of vitamin C and contains carotenoids which are especially found in the skin. It is best to leave the skin on the vegetable and buy an organic variety to avoid pesticide ingestion. While cooking vegetables usually decreases nutrient content, studies have found that summer squash like zucchini tends to hold on to it’s antioxidant value after steaming. Squash is 85-90% carbohydrate content, but contains pectin which may actually help regulate insulin and protect against diabetes.
- Zucchini Boats
- 2 Large Zucchini
- 2 cloves garlic, minced
- 1 cup tomatoes, roughly diced
- 1 can black beans, rinsed and drained
- 2 cups couscous, prepared
- 2 tbsp homemade taco seasoning
- avocado oil for sauté
- shredded cheese to topping if desired (use dairy free to make recipe vegan friendly)
- Homemade Taco Seasoning - Mix all ingredients together and store in small mason jar.
- 3 tbsp chili powder
- 3 tsp cumin
- 2 tsp himalayan pink salt
- 1 tsp garlic powder
- 1 tsp oregano
- ¾ tsp onion powder
- 2 tsp smoked paprika
- ½ tsp cayenne pepper or red pepper flakes
- ½ tsp cracked black pepper
- Spicy Cilantro Cream
- ½ cup veganaisse
- ¼ cup cilantro
- ¼ habanero pepper or ½ tsp Sriracha
- juice of ½ lime
- Heat oven to 350 degrees
- Slice zucchini in half long ways. Scoop out insides, roughly chop and set aside. Scrape zucchini with spoon to smooth out the inside.
- Heat 1 tbsp avocado oil. Add garlic and saute for 1 min. Add zucchini and saute for 3 min, or until water releases. Add tomatoes, black beans, couscous and taco seasoning. Stir well and remove from heat.
- Place filling back into zucchini boats and top with grated cheese if desired. Bake for 30 min, or until cheese is melted and zucchini is tender.
- Remove from heat and let cool 10 min before topping with spicy cilantro cream.
- To make cilantro cream: blend veganaisse, cilantro, lime and habanero until smooth. Add to Zucchini boats.
- Serve warm and enjoy!
What is your favorite Mexican Food?