Spice up Dinner with Mexican Zucchini Boats

I’ve always appreciated zucchini for its mild and neutral flavor, ease of preparation, and quick-cooking ability. It’s a staple in my veggie stir-fries and I‘ll happily eat it the way I did growing up — sliced and sautéed with olive oil, salt, and pepper. But lately I’ve enjoyed experimenting beyond the “slice and sauté.” Here's a fun way to transform zucchini into something different.      

Mexican Zucchini Boats

Ingredients
Cooking spray
6 zucchini (the fatter the better)
1 Tbsp. olive oil
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 small onion, chopped
1 green bell pepper, chopped
Salt and pepper to taste
1 lb. ground turkey
1 tsp. chili powder
1 tsp. cumin
1/2 tsp. dried oregano
1 cup cooked brown rice
15-oz. can black beans, drained and rinsed
15-oz. can corn, drained
1 cup salsa
Hot sauce to taste
1 1/4 cups shredded Monterey jack cheese
1/4 cup chopped cilantro

Directions
Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Spray a 9-by-13-inch baking pan with cooking spray.  

Slice zucchini in half lengthwise. Scoop out the pulp from each half, leaving about a 1/4-inch thick shell. Place zucchini in pan cut-side up and set aside.  

Heat oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add garlic and onion and sauté 2 minutes. Add bell pepper, salt, and pepper and sauté 5 minutes. Spoon mixture into a bowl and set aside.  

Add turkey, chili powder, cumin, and oregano to skillet. Cook, breaking into small pieces, until no longer pink, about 6 minutes. Return onion and pepper mixture to skillet with rice, beans, corn, salsa, and hot sauce. Stir until combined and remove from heat.   

Spoon mixture into zucchini boats. Top with cheese and bake 15 minutes or until zucchini is tender and cheese has melted. Sprinkle with cilantro and serve. Makes 6 servings.

 Per serving: Calories 450, protein 28 g, carbohydrates 41 g, total fat 21 g, saturated fat 8 g, cholesterol 80 mg, sodium 1,280 mg, fiber 9 g, total sugar 11 g

 For more zucchini recipes, check out the Spring 2018 issue of Island Scene magazine.