Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Baked Stuffed Zucchini and Peppers and Walnut Parmesan

Today has been almost as busy at our place as yesterday. I was hoping for a bit of respite today but that didn’t happen. Since I didn’t have time to cook yesterday I wanted to make something today to have leftovers for Dan’s lunch. I had initially planned to make zucchini lasagna but ran out of time to dehydrate the zucchini noodles overnight. In the interest of saving time I went with stuffed zucchini and peppers instead. This is one of those quick, no fuss meals that everyone likes so leftovers are always welcome. Here is what I did:

Baked Stuffed Zucchini and Peppers
Serves 6


2 cups yellow onion, finely minced (allow to stand 10 minutes before heating)
4 large cloves garlic, finely minced (allow to stand 10 minutes before heating)
¼ cup water to sauté aromatics
1 medium zucchini, cut in half lengthwise and hollowed out like a boat (chop the insides to include in the filling)
green juice pulp from 3 stalks celery, 1 head romaine, 3 leaves kale, 3 leaves of collards
14 ounces extra firm tofu, well drained
2 tablespoons brown rice flour (helps the tofu to firm up like ricotta)
3 tablespoons nutritional yeast
1 tablespoon Italian seasoning
1 teaspoon fennel seeds
1 tablespoon hot crushed pepper (wet hots)
black pepper to taste
14 ounces tomato sauce plus ¼ cup water to thin sauce
1 green pepper, seeded and stemmed
1 tomato, thinly sliced


Preheat your oven to 350 degrees.

Start by cutting the zucchini in half lengthwise. Then cut it into serving size pieces. Use a melon baller to scoop out the insides leaving a reasonably thin shell to hold the filling. The remaining sides on my zucchini were maybe a fat ¼ inch thick. The less thick the zucchini shell the quicker the dish will cook. Place the zucchini you removed in your food processor and pulp until it is ground, but not yet mush.

Water sauté the onion, garlic and zucchini you scooped out of the boats until it is tender. You are cooking the zucchini so that it doesn’t make your filling runny since zucchini is mostly water. I got impatient waiting for the water to evaporate end put the mixture in a fine wire sieve to remove the water. Set this aside.

In your food processor add the green juice pulp, tofu, flour, nutritional yeast, Italian seasoning, fennel seeds, hot crushed peppers and black pepper to taste. If you wish add salt to the tofu stuffing. Combine the tofu and onion mixtures together with a spoon. You don’t want the processor to obliterate the onions. You want a little texture in the filling.

Pour the tomato sauce in a baking dish and rinse the can with a little water. You want to start with a sauce that is a little more liquid since it will concentrate in the oven.

Fill the zucchini boats with the stuffing. If you have stuffing leftover, which I did, use bell peppers or an eggplant to hold the extra stuffing. Place the stuffed veggies in the pan with the sauce. Top each filled boat with a slice of tomato (for color only). Bake uncovered for 45 minutes or until the filling starts to get firm. I would suggest you check it at the 30 minute mark in case your oven runs hot.

To serve, spoon a little of the tomato sauce on the base of the plate or on top of the stuffed veggie. Sprinkle with vegan parmesan or nutritional yeast if desired.

Nutritional Information (for 1/6th of the recipe):

Amount Per Serving
Calories - 150.63
Calories From Fat (28%) - 41.62

Total Fat - 4.42g
Saturated Fat - 0.46g
Cholesterol - 0mg
Sodium - 362.83mg
Potassium - 648.55mg
Total Carbohydrates - 17.53g
Fiber - 7.09g
Sugar - 7.59g
Protein - 9.55g


This is light and yet flavorful. I like that it doesn’t include pasta and that is it low in fat and calories yet contains a nice amount of protein and fiber. Obviously the dish is too light to be an entire meal. But with a big salad on the side you are all set.

If you want to make the filling more rich add a couple of tablespoons of soaked and drained raw cashews to the food processor with the tofu. I do that when I make tofu lasagna and it does make a much richer filling. However we are not always in the food for rich food that seems to be more appropriate during the cold weather to me.

When choosing your tofu be certain to read the ingredient list. Some of them contain soy protein isolates. Recently I have been buying the organic Nature’s Promise brand from Giant or Wegman’s organic. Both of these are soy protein isolate free. I will be writing a post on the problem with soy protein isolates soon.

Next recipe:

When baking Italian dishes I immediately think of serving them with parmesan. It just seems to be de rigueur. The problem is that I don’t buy the commercial vegan varieties because they contain too many “frankenfoods”. When the ingredient list reads more like a science experiment than food I won’t buy it, period. Even though I made parmesan here, that took quite a while and isn’t something that I as in the mood to play with today. Instead I decide to make a quick nut parmesan. Here is what I did:

Walnut Parmesan
Makes 16 servings that are about ½ tablespoon each


1/2 cup walnuts
3 tablespoons nutritional yeast, or to taste


Combine the nuts and nutritional yeast in your food processor (or blender) and process until you have what can best be described as tiny bits of walnut coated in nutritional yeast. Place this in a covered container and refrigerate until needed. I store this in the refrigerator because I store all my nuts there or in the freezer to keep them fresh for longer. You can keep this on your counter if desired.

Nutritional Information (1/16th of the recipe):

Amount Per Serving
Calories - 30.47
Calories From Fat (83%) - 25.41

Total Fat - 2.38g
Saturated Fat - 0.22g
Cholesterol - 0mg
Sodium - 0.07mg
Potassium - 16.12mg
Total Carbohydrates - 0.5g
Fiber - 0.24g
Sugar - 0.1g
Protein - 0.56g


If you like the flavor of nutritional yeast you will like this. It is a quick and simple recipe that I like to keep on hand to sprinkle on salad or baked dishes. If you are still eating salt you may want to add that to the food processor. You can also use other nuts to make this. I like to use almonds or pine nuts to make this too. These days I tend to favor walnuts for the favorable omega 3:6 ratio compared to other nuts.

New Cookbooks:

So… while I was at Costco I had to check out the book section. What if there were cookbooks that I “needed”. As luck may have it there just happened to be two. I enjoy the Culinara series of cookbooks. I own the ones on Italy, Spain and Greece. When I saw Costco had the one on Germany and South East Asia I knew I had to have them. Okay now I know making German food healthy and vegan is going to be a problem. But I think I can do it, and I am up for the challenge. Well, at least I think I am. My husband is of German heritage, as is my father. I get my Italian DNA from my mom. Something tells me my husband and father will be brutally honest about my recipes, LOL. I will keep you all posted on my progress.

If anyone has a German dish that they want to me to try to make healthy and vegan let me know. There is nothing that I have in mind at the moment. I just plan to read the cookbook like a novel, which how I always read a cookbook, and see what appeals to me.

Unrelated Notes:

Yesterday was a long day with keeping an eye on my mom while my dad ran errands and then our appointments later in the day. I didn’t end up cooking anything. After a late afternoon appt we stopped at Costco for a few veggies. While we were there we grabbed a 4 pound tub of cut up fruit and ate over half of it in the parking lot. For those of you that don’t know Costco also has a prepared food area where you can buy pizza, smoothies, generally fast food which we won’t eat. However they also have disposable cutlery there which worked just fine for the fruit. I mention this in case any of you find yourself hungry and at Costco. Our other option was the veggie tray and a tub of hummus or edamame and cannellini dip. When I looked around there are quite a few healthy options that don’t require chopping or cleaning.

Once we got home and put the groceries away it was getting rather late. We ended up having a big green salad with romaine, red cabbage, salsa, black beans, tomato, sesame seeds and nutritional yeast. Definitely just a sustenance type of meal, but still good for us and tasty enough we thought. But sadly no leftovers for Dan’s lunch today. That is why I ended up baking today. I wanted to make certain that I had something to put in his lunch tomorrow.  It was just one long day yesterday.

I am going to relax now and read one of my new books. I have been moving nonstop since I got up at 6:30 am.


  1. Hi, Ali! I happened to check in on your blog and saw that you just posted on stuffed zucchini. Again, great minds think alike, my dear. I posted mine yesterday! Something about summer and zucchini, right? You might even like mine - I think I kept it pretty natural. I know there'll be some ingredients like salt and my red sauce that you wouldn't use, but tell me what you think! Yours looked great!

  2. Blessed mama,

    This was going to be zucchini lasagna but I didn't make the time to dehydrate zucchini noodles. It has a been extremely busy here yesterday and today. I will check out your zucchini now.


  3. I was gonna say; this reminds me of what Blessed Mama made sounds great and looks very attractive. I've been making a version of walnut parm too! It's the bees knees!

  4. Rose,

    There is only so much spiralized zucchini I can get the hubby to eat. He prefers baked to raw. But you know I would have preferred raw. ;-)

    I was happy to find another use for green juice pulp. I get so many questions about what to do with that. Adding it to tofu filling for lasagna or stuffed veggies was the only new idea I came up with recently.

    I don't remember any veggies in Blessed Mama's version. We had a similar concept but different ingredients.

    I would love to see your walnut parm sometime.


  5. I actually copied the idea from this vegan parmesan I saw in WholeFoods called " Parma!" It's just raw walnuts, nutritional yeast and sea salt...I thought, I could make that myself...and so I did. :) I usually add a lot of nutritional yeast...about 1/2 cup to 1 cup walnuts. They also have a flavor that includes chipotle peppers, which would be a fun thing to add the homemade version too I think.

  6. Rose,

    I need to spend more time shopping at Whole Foods so I can read the labels like you do, great plan. ;-) Dan doesn't love the nooch as much as I do so I try to tone it down a little here. But I bet your version is great! Brilliant idea about the chipotles. I have them whole dried and in powdered form. When I remember where I bought them I will let you know. It may have been Whole Foods.


  7. Yum--the zucchini recipe looks so good! I will have to give it a try come fall when it cools down and I can cook again :-)


  8. Courtney,

    Since I know you don't have a juicer. I would substitute one or two 10 ounce boxes of spinach for the green juice pulp. There was a lot of "green pulp" in this recipe. ;-)


  9. Oh yum. I finally tried stuffed zucchini a week or so and am in love with it. I need to try that "parm" recipe. I have so many need to try things. Geez.

  10. Heather,

    I am surprised you didn't grow up on stuffed veggies. I thought that was a requirement if you were Italian. Even my mom, who can't cook used to make stuffed zucchini, eggplant and peppers. Of course hers was dreadfully unhealthy full of nothing but ricotta, mozzarella, parmesan, egg and seasonings. *rolls eyes* It is amazing that I didn't have high cholesterol at the age of 5. ;-) Thank goodness your mom was more health conscious.

    talk to you later,

  11. Whoa! I love the walnut parmesano recipe! Can't wait to try it. Also love those culinaria cookbooks. Don't have any yet, but soon, I hope. Fun post, Alicia!!!

  12. Aimee,

    I hope you like the walnut parm. I use it on baked dishes like this, veggies and on top of salads.

    The Culinara books are good. Not vegan, but most of my books aren't. I read part of the German book yesterday. It will be a challenge to make it healthy and vegan. But we will see what we can do. ;-)

    hope you are having a good week,

  13. I'm looking forward to seeing what you do with German recipes! The closest I have come is a Schnitzel made with portabella mushroom rather than the meat. But I still use egg and then breadcrumbs, so it isn't all that healthy.

  14. Aberforth and Billy,

    Ummmm, schnitzel. That is a good one. I will definitely see what I can do to make a healthy version of it. I used to love schnitzel. I have a couple of ideas so we will see if one of them works.

    I grew up outside of Chicago and we had a great German restaurant (now closed) where we used to go often. German food is tasty, but not normally the most healthy. ;-)

    thanks for the schntizel suggestion,


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