The first zucchini of the season is here! We usually like to grill it and serve it as a side dish, but we thought these zucchini deserved to be the main component of the meal. We halved them and scooped out the insides, which we added to a flavorful mixture of sautéed onion, garlic, jalapeño, crispy breadcrumbs, spinach, cooked rice, and the real star – House-cured Spanish chorizo from El Salchichero, which infused everything with a spicy and smokey flavor. We stuffed the zucchini boats with the chorizo-rice mixture, topped them with mild, slightly salty queso fresco (“fresh cheese”), and then they were ready to set sail – into the oven! This simple weeknight meal is easily adaptable. Feel free to add different kinds of chopped vegetables to the filling, or use browned ground beef, turkey, or pork in place of the chorizo. Serve with a green salad and enjoy the beginning of summer produce season!
Chorizo-Rice Zucchini Boats with Queso Fresco
4 medium zucchini (or 6 small), stems cut off and halved lengthwise
2 TBS. olive oil + more for drizzling
1 medium yellow onion, diced
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 small jalapeño, minced (discard seeds and membranes if you prefer less heat)
dried oregano, to taste
1 link of Spanish chorizo, diced
a couple big handfuls of baby spinach
1/4 cup breadcrumbs
1 cup cooked rice
salt & freshly ground black pepper, to taste
3 oz. queso fresco, or more to taste
- Preheat oven to 375.
- Over a medium bowl, use a spoon to scoop out the insides of each zucchini half. Reserve 1/2 the insides of the zucchini (you can compost the other half, or use in zucchini bread or muffins, etc). Place your zucchini “boats” on a foil-lined baking sheet. Drizzle with a little olive oil and season with salt and pepper. Using your hands, rub the seasoned oil all over the zucchini halves. Set aside.
- In a large skillet, heat 2 TBS. olive oil over medium high heat. Add the onion and cook until softened, 5-8 minutes. Add the garlic and jalapeño and sauté for 1-2 minutes more. Season with oregano.
- Add the diced chorizo and cook until it’s golden on the edges, about 5 minutes. Stir in the reserved zucchini insides and the spinach, and cook until spinach wilts. Add the breadcrumbs and cook, stirring, until they begin to turn golden. If the bottom of the pan becomes too dry, add a splash or two of liquid. Beer works well (if you happen to be enjoying one while cooking as we were), but so does water or chicken broth.
- Stir in the cooked rice until well incorporated. Remove from heat. Taste and season with salt & pepper to your liking.
- Fill the zucchini boats with spoonfuls of the chorizo-rice mixture. Using your fingers, top with crumbled queso fresco. Drizzle a little olive oil over the tops of the stuffed zucchini boats. Bake for 30-40 minutes, or until the zucchini is tender (test with a fork) and the cheese is lightly browned.