With this being the third day in a row that I've posted about "stuffing" something, it appears that if it ain't nailed down, I'll stuff it and bake it. So please take special care to watch over your small dogs and cats this week. (Just kidding....geez)
The zucchini were another gift from the guys at work and they were perfect for stuffing because they were the overgrown home garden variety, the kind with lots of seeds in the middle. If you were to use regular-size zucchini, I would cut them in half, lengthwise and stuff them as zucchini boats. The green bell peppers were actually from our own garden and since this stuffing recipe makes a ton, I decided to use the leftovers on them.
Ground Beef and Quinoa Stuffing (enough to stuff four large zucchini or four large bell peppers. I did a combination of both)
To prepare zucchini and bell peppers:
Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Line a baking sheet with aluminum foil.
Cut the bell peppers in half lengthwise and remove seeds and ribs. Brush lightly with olive oil and season with salt and pepper.
Cut the zucchini into 3 inch sections. Carefully remove the seeds and hollow out the center of each section, making sure not to hollow completely through the section. Brush lightly with olive oil and season with salt and pepper.
Place zucchini and/or peppers in preheated oven and bake for 25 minutes. Remove from oven. Drain any liquid that has accumulated in the bottom of the zucchini or peppers. Set aside. Reduce oven heat to 350 degrees.
For the stuffing:
3/4 cup quinoa
1 pound lean ground beef
kosher salt and pepper
2 TBSP olive oil
1/2 large onion, diced
1/2 bell pepper (any color) seeded and diced
pinch of crushed red pepper flakes
6 ounces mushrooms, coarsely chopped
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 TBSP fresh oregano, chopped
1 TBSP fresh basil leaves, chopped
2 tsp fresh thyme leaves, chopped
1/4 cup fresh parsley, chopped, reserve a little for garnish
3 TBSP tomato paste
1 TBSP Worchestershire sauce
1/3 cup grated parmesan cheese, plus more for garnish
While the zucchini and/or peppers are baking, prepare quinoa according to package instructions, using beef broth instead of water. Set aside.
In large skillet over medium-high heat, crumble ground beef and season with salt and pepper. Cook until beef is browned. Drain and remove from pan to a small bowl.
In same skillet heat olive oil. Add the onions and bell pepper and season with salt, pepper and crushed red pepper flakes. Saute until onions are translucent, 5-7 minutes. Add the mushrooms and saute for another 3-5 minutes, or until mushrooms have given up most of their liquid. Add the garlic, oregano, basil, thyme and parsley and saute for another minute or two. Stir in the tomato paste and Worchestershire sauce. Add the cooked quinoa and ground beef. Sprinkle parmesan cheese over all and stir well to combine. Remove from heat.
Stuff zucchini and/or peppers with mixture.
Bake the zucchini for an additional 25-30 minutes, depending on the size and thickness. I like my zucchini tender/crisp so I baked them for about 25 minutes. Remove from oven and garnish with parmesan cheese and chopped parsley.
Cover stuffed peppers with jarred spaghetti, marinara or tomato sauce. Return peppers to oven for 30 minutes. Remove from oven and top with your favorite cheese. Return to oven for an additional 5-10 minutes, or until cheese is browned and bubbly.