Are you desperately clinging onto the last little bit of summer? Grasping at the straws of warm weather and sunshine?
I’m not. Well, as far as the weather is concerned at least. Here in Florida I have a few more months of too much humidity, an unbearable heat index and rain showers you can set your watch to (this year it is about 4 o’clock P.M. everyday).
I am, however, fiercely holding onto summer produce and eating it in mass quantities while I can. The vibrant colors, plump juiciness, fresh crispness… MEHHHHH!! Makes me sad to know it will soon be no longer available. This realization induces food mourning, just knowing the inevitable is right around the seasonal corner.
Fall produce is good, don’t get me wrong. It’s just not AS good, in my opinion. Feel free to disagree. Afterall, to each their own. Fall brings too many earth toned colors and WAY too many darn pumpkin recipe posts. Ugh. I apologize in advance to those of you who adore pumpkin and want to include it as an ingredient in everything you cook this fall. Or even worse, want to make it the star of every dish you prepare. I am not a fan of pumpkin, unless it involves carving a face into the front façade and stuffing a candle in its cavity. You will, maybe, find one or two recipes involving pumpkin here at No Spoon, simply because I am nice and I want my readers (YOU) to be happy.
Anyways, back to summer produce and the recipe for today. Tex-Mex Stuffed Zucchini Boats. I wanted to take advantage of zucchini while they are still in season and of ginormous size. So why not hallow them out and make cute little stuffed boats out of them? Yeah, I couldn’t think of any good reason not to do this either. Since I wanted to keep up the ‘summer produce’ theme I used succulent sweet corn and ruby red tomatoes in the stuffing mix. And, because Boy and I LOVE Mexican food, it was only natural for me to put that spin on the mixture by adding black beans, chicken breast, pico de gallo, roasted red bell peppers, Mexican cheese, herbs and a drizzle of avocado crema.
The resulting zucchini boat definitely hit the spot. It was the perfect amount of tex-mex flavor and spice balanced with summery freshness.
The stuffing mixture is more than you will need to fill four large zucchini boats, but it is better to err on the side of caution. Besides, the tex-mex mixture is so delicious you will be eating it by the forkful while filling your zucchini. After all, you do need to taste and adjust for seasoning at least a dozen times, right?
However, there are so many dishes you could make with the leftover tex-mex mixture, aside from shoveling it, as is, into your pie hole. I placed it on top of a wedge salad the next day for dinner and mixed the avocado crema with a little ranch for the dressing. So. Good. Some other suggestions include: as a dip with chips, a topping for nachos, filling for quesadillas, tacos or enchiladas, stuffed into some large pasta shells and baked or shoved in a baked potato for a quick and easy dinner. Limitless possibilities! So, while the weather is still warm and the produce is still colorful and calling your name, give these zucchini boats a try. I promise you won’t be disappointed. Cheers! -xoxo- Cheyanne
- 2 Large Zucchini
- 2 tsp Extra Virgin Olive Oil
- 1 Small Red Onion – small dice (or ½ large red onion. Roughly 1 Cup)
- 2 Cloves of Garlic – minced
- 1 Jalapeno – seeds and stems partially or fully removed and diced
- 1 Chipotle in Adobo plus 1 tsp sauce - minced
- 2 tsp Tomato Paste
- 1 ½ tsp Cumin
- Scant ½ tsp Cayenne
- ¾ tsp Dried Oregano
- ½ tsp Salt
- ½ tsp Pepper
- 1 Ear of Corn – cooked , Kernels removed (About 1 Cup) (can substitute canned corn if fresh corn is unavailable)
- 1 Cup Black Beans – drained and rinsed
- 2 Cups Chicken – cooked and diced or shredded
- 1 Roasted Red Bell Pepper – diced (can substitute unroasted red bell pepper if desired)
- 2 Scallions , white and green parts – sliced
- 2 tsp Cilantro – minced
- 1/3 Cup Pico de Gallo (can substitute salsa or fresh diced tomatoes)
- ½ + 1/3 Cup Mexican Cheese – shredded , divided
- Cojita Cheese – crumbled (optional garnish)
- Cilantro - minced (optional garnish)
- Scallions – sliced (optional garnish)
- Tomatoes – diced , can substitute salsa (optional garnish)
- Black Olives (optional garnish)
- Lime Wedges (optional garnish)
- Hot Sauce (optional garnish)
- Avocado Cilantro Crema:
- ½ Cup Sour Cream
- ¼ Cup Mexican Crema (can substitute mayonnaise)
- 1 Avocado - diced
- Bunch of Cilantro – roughly chopped (about 1 TBS)
- 1 clove of Garlic – roughly chopped
- 1 tsp Adobo Sauce
- 1 TBS Juice of Lime
- 1/8 tsp Chili Powder
- 1/8 tsp Cumin
- Heaping ¾ tsp Salt
- ¼ tsp Pepper
- Place a medium sauté pan over medium heat. Add 2 tsp of Oil to pan. Add onion, jalapeno and season with salt and pepper to taste. Sauté, stirring occasionally, until softened, about 5-7 minutes.
- Add garlic, spices, tomato paste, chipotle and sauce; sauté 30 seconds or until garlic is fragrant.
- Stir to combine and remove from heat. Transfer to a large mixing bowl and set aside.
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Prepare a baking sheet with aluminum foil and spray with PAM or other nonstick cooking spray.
- Place a large pot, filled 3/4th of the way with water, over high heat on the stove. Add 2 tsp of Salt. Bring to a boil.
- While water is coming to a boil, cut zucchini in half lengthwise. Use a melon baller, spoon, or tablespoon measure to hallow out the inside of the zucchini, to form a ‘boat’. Leave a ¼’’ boarder on the inside of the zucchini. Set aside.
- Add remaining ingredients (but only ½ cup of the Mexican cheese) to the large mixing bowl with the cooled onion mixture. Stir well to combine. Taste and adjust for seasoning. Stir again.
- Gently lower hallowed out zucchini into boiling water and boil for 1 minute. Remove from water and transfer to ice bath for 2-5 minutes to stop cooking. Remove and gently shake off excess water. Place blanched zucchini boats on prepared baking sheet.
- Using a large spoon, stuff the blanched zucchini boats with the tex-mex mixture. *You want to heapingly stuff the boats, they should be almost to the point of looking overfilled.*
- Bake the zucchini boats for 15 minutes.
- Remove from oven and top with remaining 1/3 cup Mexican cheese.
- Place back in the oven and continue to bake for 10-12 minutes, or until the cheese is melted.
- Garnish with Avocado crema and desired additional toppings. Serve.
1. Zucchini Boats can be prepared through step 10 a day in advance. After baking 15 minutes, do not top with cheese. Allow boats to cool at room temperature, cover with plastic wrap and place in the refrigerator. The next day top with cheese and continue baking according to directions.
2. Avocado Crema will keep up to 3 days in the refrigerator. Transfer to a tuber ware and press a piece of plastic wrap down on top of crema before securing with top of container.
3. You will have left over Tex-Mex mix depending on the size of your zucchini and how amply you stuff them. Suggestions for using the leftover mix: on a salad, as a dip, nacho topping, quesadilla filling, topping for a baked potato, stuffed in large pasta shells or rolled as an enchilada filling.