Good morning from Syracuse, New York! Things have been a tad quiet lately while I’ve been getting ready to embark on my two-week long trip to the northeast. It’s been exhausting so far, I won’t lie but still so much fun. I’ve already eaten myself into a coma and hunted down several coffee shops to visit. A long walk on an unexpectedly hilly campus stretched out my legs after twelve hours in a car. Yes, twelve long hours where a few naps took the place of good night’s rest. Needless to say, as I write this my reward for productivity is sleep. I could have napped as soon as we arrived at the hotel on Friday afternoon but I’m the kind of person who prefers to push through the rest of the day and get back to a regular schedule as quick as possible. My hope is that by tomorrow morning, I’ll feel like myself again. And as you’re reading this...it is tomorrow morning! And I have a delicious recipe for you inspired by late summer, early fall farmers market ingredients. It’s a tasty, hearty one so you’re going to love it.
Zucchini is one of those vegetables that people love or hate. Oddly, in my house the feeling is neutral. My family would much rather eat zucchini than other vegetables like squash or sweet potatoes but they’d rather cut it out of the equation altogether. It seems to go over a little better when I do fun things with the neutral vegetables, like these Stuffed Zucchini. I went Tex Mex-style because I don’t do it often enough and I wanted to mix dinner up a tad. This might seem like a complicated meal to make but trust me when I say it’s not. It does take a minute though so don’t plan to make it on a busy night. The zucchini at the farmers market lately have been so huge too. It's the perfect time to grab a few and get stuffing!
Start by cooking the farro. This will take 20-30 minutes depending on the brand you buy and you can get all the prep work done while it’s boiling. While the farro cooks, carve out the zucchini. You don’t want to waste any of the flesh but you also want to make sure to create a deep enough crater to hold the filling. Make sure to scoop out any and all seeds as well as the soft, gooey flesh and then smooth out the craters by scraping it with a spoon. This should give you plenty of room for the filling. If your zucchini are a little wobbly, carefully use a sharp knife to slice a tiny bit of the skin off of the opposite side of the zucchini. You just need to shave enough off the bottom to create a flat surface for the zucchini to sit firm. This isn’t necessary but I find it more pleasant for eating and more tolerable for cooking.
The filling is a simple mix of ingredients: farro, cherry tomatoes, corn, chicken, beans, spices, salt and pepper. Give it a good toss to mix all the ingredients together before filling the zucchini. Make sure to drizzle the zucchini with olive oil beforehand and season with salt and pepper before filling. Don’t be shy either. Once the zucchini are filled, top with cheese and pop in the oven. You want the zucchini to be fork tender and the cheese to be melted and bubbly. If you need to, tent the zucchini with tin foil halfway through the cooking time to keep the top from burning while the meat of the zucchini cooks. You’ll most likely have leftover filling left. It works well for tacos, or stuffing other vegetables like squash and tomatoes!
Tex Mex Stuffed Zucchini
1.5 cups Farro, cooked
2 large or 4 small Zucchini, halved lengthwise and seeds removed
1 cup Cherry Tomatoes, halved (or 2 plum tomatoes, diced)
1 cup Corn
1 cup Chicken, cooked and chopped
15 oz. Black Beans, drained and rinsed
1 tsp. Paprika
½ tsp. Chili Powder
½ tsp. Cayenne Powder
½ tsp. Garlic Powder
2 tbsp. Olive Oil
1 cup Colby Jack Cheese, shredded
Salt & Pepper
1 - Cook the farro according to package directions. Meanwhile, preheat the oven to 425 degrees.
2 - Prep the zucchini while the farro cooks. Halve each zucchini lengthwise and scoop out all of the seeds and soft flesh. There should be a nice crater in the zucchini to hold the farro mixture. If the zucchini is a little wobbly on the baking sheet, use a sharp knife to cut a thin slice off the skin side to create a flat surface.
3 - Once the farro is done cooking, mix it together with the tomatoes, corn chicken, beans, spices, salt and pepper to taste. Drizzle the zucchini halves with the olive oil, season with the salt and pepper and then add the mixture. Top with the cheese and bake 20-25 minutes. Serve.