Roasted Zucchini with Lentils and Quinoa Stew Filling

This dish is inspired by the long summer vacations I used to have as a child; those three months and a half out of school, from June until the beginning of October – traditionally school would start after San Francis Day, October 4, and go on with few interruptions until mid-June.

Blistering hot days in the city would be followed by beautiful long days at the beach in one of the seaside villages near Rome, where the luckiest kids would get to spend a month or two with parents and often grandparents, aunts or other family members, alternating with each other in the spare room to get some relief from the unforgiving heat in the city.

The food would be simple (for Italian standards), summery, and mostly vegetable-based, given the bounty of produce you could get each morning for a very reasonable price at the tiny local market, not more than a few stalls of local producers living just a couple of miles inland. Useless to say it was divine.

Zucchinis are a typical summer staple to me; together with eggplant and red pepper they form the holy trinity of vegetables, declined in all possible forms and shapes and combinations of flavors.

At that time, I had never heard about quinoa, which is definitely a very recent and welcomed addition to our diets given the undoubtedly great nutrients it provides: fiber, iron, proteins.

Lentils on the contrary have always been one of my preferred legumes and I discovered only much later that lentils also happen to be extremely nutritious and healthy, packed with proteins, iron, vitamins B and fibers, rich in polyphenols, and of course very affordable and filling. Italy produces one of the best varieties in the world: Lenticchie di Castelluccio di Norcia, they grow on a spectacular plain at 1,500 meters of altitude, inside a National Park in the Umbria region; cultivated there since centuries in the same traditional way, without use of pesticides or fertilizers, they are very tiny and tender. If you cannot find them opt for green lentils, generally small in size, which keep their bite after cooking, like the French variety “Lentilles de Puy”.

So, I thought to use these ingredients to modernize the more traditional ground veal and pork stuffed zucchini and make instead a kind of lentils-quinoa stew to fill the nice hollow rounds of zucchini. The same filling could be used for other vegetables as well, or just be eaten by itself. Don’t worry if you make too much, it will make a delicious snack on its own or added to a green salad.

By the way this dish also happens to be vegan, like so many other Italian vegetables-based recipes, that only use EV Olive Oil as fat.


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For 4 Servings

1 cup Carnaroli rice
1 medium onion, chopped
2-3 tablespoons of EV Olive Oil
½ glass of white table wine
1 pint chicken stock preprepared (or vegetable stock)
1 cup rinsed blueberries
1 cup roasted chestnuts or more, chopped in big pieces
2 tablespoons butter
2 tablespoons gorgonzola cheese (optional)