Quinoa Confetti Stuffed Zucchini

Dicing the cheese in the filling rather than shredding it improves the texture by adding little nuggets of creaminess instead of making a cohesive mass. Dice all the veggies as small as possible so as not to overpower the quinoa in the confetti.

1/4 oz dried porcini mushrooms, crushed *
1/2 cup quinoa, uncooked
4 medium zucchini, about 8 oz each
1 tsp olive oil
1/4 cup red bell pepper, finely diced
1 large serrano pepper, finely diced
1/4 cup carrot, finely diced
1/2 tsp salt
1/4 tsp black pepper
4 oz pepper jack cheese, block style, divided

1. In a small saucepan, combine the porcini mushrooms with 1 cup of water. Bring to a boil, cover, turn off heat, and let stand 10 minutes. Add the quinoa to the pan, and return to a boil. Cover, reduce the heat, and simmer 15 minutes until the quinoa is just tender. Transfer to a large bowl.
2. Meanwhile, cut the zucchini lengthwise, slicing off about 1/3rd of each squash. Finely dice the smaller section and set aside. Scoop the seeds out of the larger portion of each squash, forming a zucchini boat. In a microwave safe baking dish, arrange the zucchini boats cut side up, cover with plastic wrap, and microwave on high for 2 minutes. Move the inner zucchini to outer positions to promote even cooking. Microwave two minutes longer. Set aside.
3. Preheat the oven to 325° if convection, or 350° for conventional.
4. In a skillet, heat the oil and add the diced zucchini, red bell pepper, serrano pepper, and carrot. Season with salt and pepper. Saute the veggies until just tender, then transfer to the bowl with the quinoa.
5. Dice 2 oz of the pepper jack cheese into 1/4″ cubes and combine with the quinoa mixture, stirring until all the ingredients are evenly blended. Thinly slice the remaining 2 oz of cheese and set aside.
6. Pack 1/4th of the quinoa confetti into each of the zucchini boats and cover with foil.
7. Bake for 20 minutes, or until hot, then remove the foil and top with the sliced cheese. Bake and additional 10 minutes or until the cheese is melted.

* Note: Porcini mushrooms can be pricy and hard to find. If need be, substitute crimini mushrooms. Finely dice about 1/4 cup from the caps to saute with the other veggies. Simmer a handful of stems in the quinoa cooking water for 10 minutes, removing the stems before adding the quinoa.

Servings: 2
Yield: 2 main dish servings or 4 sides

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