When I was planning a menu this week and wanting a lentil recipe, I was trying to move away from the soup recipes I am naturally drawn to (I am a soup fiend). I try to use lentils in pace of ground beef when I can, it's cheaper and healthier and texture-wise can be a pretty good substitute.
One of Jeremy's favorite foods is stuffed peppers so I have been on the search for a good recipe but have yet to actually prepare them dinner. However, I got some beautiful zucchini in my produce box this week and began to wonder if anyone had ever thought to stuff those?! After a page of Google search results I concluded this was not a new idea and felt more confident to try it out!
There were a few recipes using ground beef and a few that even used lentils so I grabbed ideas from here and there and came up with this.
Recipe (3-6 servings depending on how hungry you are!)
1/3 C brown lentils
1/2 C red wine
1/2 C water
1 Carrot, finely chopped
1 rib of Celery, finely chopped
1/2 C Onion, finely chopped
1/2 roasted red pepper, finely chopped
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 bay leaf
3 medium zucchini (or enough for those you are cooking for - you can freeze the extra filling for a quick dinner option in the future)
1/4 C tomato paste
1/4 C finely chopped walnuts
2 Tbsp finely minced fresh flat-leaf parsley
1/2 tsp dried Thyme
1/4 tsp dried Tarragon
1/4 tsp black pepper, plus a little bit more for topping
Salt to taste
1/4 C grated Parmesan cheese
1/4 C breadcrumbs OR for the Gluten-freers 1/4 C crushed Rice Krispies or Corn Flakes
Combine the lentils, wine, water, carrot, celery, onion, bell pepper, garlic, and bay leaf in a large saucepan. Cover and simmer over medium-high heat until the lentils are tender and the liquid is absorbed, about 30 minutes. Don't let the mixture get too dry!
Meanwhile, preheat the oven to 350° F. Lightly oil an 9-by-13-inch baking pan. Bring a large pot of water to a boil over high heat; add the zucchini and cook for 15 minutes, until just tender. Drain and cool slightly.
Trim the ends and slice each zucchini in half lengthwise. Use a spoon to scoop out about half of the inside of the zucchini, leaving a 1/4 inch thick shell. Arrange the zucchini shells in the prepared pan and sprinkle with salt and freshly ground pepper.
When the lentils are cooked, remove the bay leaf. Stir in the remaining ingredients, except the Parmesan and bread crumbs.
Stir together the Parmesan, bread crumbs, and a dash of pepper in a small bowl.
Spread about 2 tablespoons of the lentil mixture into each zucchini half. Sprinkle with the Parmesan mixture.
Bake for 30 minutes or until the zucchini are completely tender and the cheese is melted.
Note* This was a HIT for dinner tonight! I might use a little less tomato paste next time and a little more cheese on top, mozzarella would work well in the topping. The crushed Rice krispies worked well as a substitute for breadcrumbs in the gluten free option I made. Enjoy!