Healthy, baked Enchilada Quinoa Stuffed Zucchini boats with all the flavors of an enchilada rolled into a lightened up 30-minute vegetarian dish the whole family will love.
When I’m in the mood for Mexican food (which is pretty much all the time), I want all the things in it — the meat, the cheese, the sauces, toppings, spices — you name it. And I have it maybe too often if you know what I mean. Lately I’ve been thinking about how to take recipes I love and make them healthier without sacrificing any of the taste I crave. Because, let’s face it, if you eat something that’s supposed to be Mexican-flavored but tastes like cardboard, well, you’re still going to want to eat that thing you wanted to eat in the first place, and now you’re not only hungry but you’re angry too.
Which brings me to my new favorite food-delivery system: stuffed zucchini. It’s sooo plentiful this time of year, and so delicious too. It’s fat free, super low calorie, and chock full of all the vitamins, minerals, and fiber that keep you in tip-top shape. Stuff it with hearty, filling quinoa and all the fixin’s, and what you’ve got is a Mexican entree with none of the guilt and all of the flavor.
HOW DO YOU MAKE ENCHILADA QUINOA STUFFED ZUCCHINI?
Since I’m both the head chef and my own sous chef, I like to come prepared with all my ingredients chopped or cooked and ready to go. In this case, I went ahead and cooked my quinoa (this recipe is also a great way to use up any leftover quinoa, rice, cauliflower rice, or other grain) and hollowed out my zucchini boats. I then put the zucchini boats side-by-side, cut side up in a casserole dish sprayed with cooking spray.
From there, I mixed in a large bowl the quinoa, beans, corn, enchilada sauce, some of the cheese, and the spices. I add the mixture to the zucchini boats and pop them in the preheated oven for 15 minutes. I pull them out after the first cooking time to top with more cheese and then return it to the oven to get the cheese nice and bubbly and melted, about another 5 minutes.
When the cheese is melted to my liking, I pull the whole dish out and serve with my favorite toppings.
WHAT TOPPINGS GO WITH ENCHILADA QUINOA STUFFED ZUCCHINI?
I sometimes create a “taco bar” out of the separate parts of tacos and all the tacos so you can make your own. You can do that with these stuffed zucchini as well. Some toppings I like to offer include:
- Sour cream or plain Greek yogurt
- Diced tomatoes
- Sliced black olives
- Sliced green onions
- Fajita-style, cooked, mixed bell peppers and onions
- Sliced, fresh jalapenos or pickled jalapenos or other hot peppers
- A variety of hot sauces
- Freshly chopped lettuce
- Roasted corn
WHAT IS QUINOA?
Quinoa is one of those grains that started out as a weird hippie food a few years ago but now is here to stay, and for good reason. It’s gluten-free, which is important if you are gluten-intolerant or have celiac disease. It’s high in protein, fiber, B vitamins, and iron, which makes it a great meat alternative for those Meatless Mondays or if you are vegetarian or vegan.
Quinoa isn’t particularly low in calories or fat (about 222 calories and 6 grams of fat per cup of cooked quinoa — which isn’t bad at all, it’s just not super, duper low), but it more than makes up for it with its loads of other good vitamins and minerals and low amounts of sugar.
HOW DO YOU MAKE RED ENCHILADA SAUCE?
You know what’s super easy to make? Enchilada sauce! Truly! It has way less ingredients than you might think, takes just a few minutes to make, and tastes great too.
All you’ll need is diced tomatoes, a chipotle pepper in adobo sauce, white onion, cumin, garlic, sugar, broth, and salt and pepper. What’s the magic in making this sauce all come together? I’m glad you asked. My popular recipe for Homemade Red Enchilada Sauce can be found right here!
Enchilada Quinoa Stuffed Zucchini
- 3-4 medium zucchini
- 1 cup cooked quinoa
- 1 can black beans, drained and rinsed
- 1 can yellow corn, drained and rinsed
- 1 15-ounce can mild or medium enchilada sauce
- 1 1/2 cups shredded Mexican blend cheese divided
- 1 teaspoon ground cumin
- 1 teaspoon chili powder
- salt and pepper to taste I used about 1/2 teaspoon salt and 1/4 teaspoon cracked black pepper
- 1 cup shredded Mexican blend cheese
- sour cream, diced tomatoes, avocado, sliced olives, green onions, cilantro optional toppings
- Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Cut zucchini in half lengthwise, use a tablespoon to scoop out the seedy center and discard. Place side by side, cut side up, on a baking sheet or in a casserole dish.
- In a large bowl stir together quinoa, black beans, corn, enchilada sauce, 1/2 cup of the shredded Mexican blend cheese, cumin, chili powder, and salt and pepper.
- Spoon quinoa mixture into zucchini boats. Bake for 15 minutes.
- Top zucchini with remaining cheese. Return to oven for 5 minutes or until cheeses are melted.
- Add desired toppings and serve.