Welcome to Carol's Zucchini week! This is the first of three recipes Carol will post this week.
Thank you so much Carol for sharing your delicious recipes with us!!
Taco Chicken Super Stuffed Zucchini
We've been growing zucchini for years in our garden and the recipes I've tried are endless. From breads to brownies, to savory pies, quiches, Zucchini Parmesan, Zucchini Pizza....you name it, I've tried it every which way...but stuffed. For some reason I just never was tempted to give a stuffed zucchini a try.
Until this year...when a few of them got away from me hiding under the leaves of the plants. YIKES! They were HUGE. That's when I said NOW I'm gonna make stuffed zucchini.
We LOVE Mexican foods of all kinds, so that was my starting point-something with Southwestern flair.
Like Linda, I'm a USE IT UP kind of cook. I will go above and beyond NOT to throw any food away. Any little bits of this and that get used to make something else.
Such was the case with this recipe. I had made a delicious chicken recipe the night before, but had 2 chicken breast halves left because the doggone chicken breasts I got were so big I had to cut each half in half for recipe #1, which left 2 pieces thawed. I had a cup or so of leftover Cilantro Lime Rice and 2 ears of corn on the cob that were cooked and needed a new home in another dish. Both would be perfect add-ins to what I had planned.
Instead of baking off the chicken, I decided to rub a little low sodium taco seasoning on both sides, brown it in a bit of oil, then poach it to cook it through. It was quick, easy and let me get my zucchini baked off and some slicing and dicing of vegetables done while it cooked.
We've been getting beautiful bell peppers and jalapenos from the garden, so some of them got chopped up along with some onion and garlic. Then came the clean-out-the-refrigerator step. I grabbed the rice, cut the corn off the cob, then added some frozen corn to give me the amount I wanted.
Once the chicken was cooked through and cooled a little, I used 2 forks-and my fingers-to shred it.
I didn't even waste the liquid I cooked the chicken in. That was used to cook the peppers, onions and garlic in. Once they were tender, I added the rice, corn, chicken, the rest of the taco seasoning, a little tomato sauce. a touch of oregano and water to the skillet. What a bounty! Once everything heated through, I removed it from the heat and added chopped black olives. I'll admit, Bob and I are NOT olive fans AT ALL, but we do like them in Mexican food. They add a little extra something that we enjoy.
Rather than use black beans in the chicken mixture-which would also be good, by the way-I opted to put a layer of fat free refried beans in each of the zucchini boats before adding the chicken mixture.
Time to heap that chicken filling in-and pile it in I did. I just mounded it until it was all used up.
I had an opened bag of tortilla chips with all of nothing left in them. Out came the rolling pin, they got a few good smacks to crush them and over the top of the filling they went. Into the oven they went to warm up.
After everything heated through, a sprinkling of cheese was the final touch for the zucchini. One more trip to the oven to melt the cheese while I assembled all the garnishes.
I like the contrast of hot and cold when eating something like this. Iceberg lettuce was the perfect "bed" for the zucchini once it was plated. A sprinkling of chopped fresh-from-the-garden tomatoes, some green onion, a little cilantro and a dollop of sour cream and we were ready to eat.
Oh my GOODNESS are these delicious. The zucchini is the perfect vessel to hold all that Southwestern goodness. The creaminess of the refried beans was the perfect partner to the squash and chicken. The rice added some bulk to the filling as did the corn. The lettuce added a cool crispness and that touch of sour cream was the perfect final touch.
I can only eat half of a half of these so we got MANY meals from them-and that's OK. Any night eating Mexican dishes is a GOOD night for us.
What I love the most about recipes like this is there's no right or wrong. It's a great "use it up" dish. Use what you like...omit what you don't. Add more rice and less corn...replace the corn with something else or leave it out all together. Don't like refried beans? Leave them out..or add a bean of your choice that you and your family love. This would also be a great way to use leftover cooked roast chicken, turkey, pork or beef. Shred it up and add it to the mixture-saves you a step cooking off the chicken.
If you, your family or friends grow zucchini and you have a few MONSTERS that seemed to appear overnight, and you enjoy the flavors of Mexico, give this dish a try. Not only is it super economical, it's downright delicious!
TACO CHICKEN SUPER STUFFED ZUCCHINI
3-4 large zucchini
2 Tbsp. olive oil, divided
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
2 boneless skinless chicken breast halves (about 1 1/4 lb. total)
1 (1.25 oz.) pkg.low sodium taco seasoning, divided
1 c. coarsely chopped red bell pepper
3/4 c. coarsely chopped green bell pepper
1 large jalapeno pepper, seeded, veins removed, diced
1 1/2 c. chopped onion
2 cloves garlic, finely minced
1 c. fresh corn cut from the cob OR frozen corn
1-1 1/2 c. cooked rice
1 tsp. dried oregano
4 heaping tsp. tomato sauce
1 (2 oz.) can sliced black olives, drained and chopped (optional)
1 (15-16 oz.) can fat free OR regular refried beans
1 c. coarsely crushed tortilla chips
1 1/2-2 c, shredded colby-jack cheese
Shredded iceberg lettuce
Chopped fresh tomatoes
Chopped fresh cilantro (optional)
Thinly sliced green onion
Low fat OR regular sour cream
Preheat the oven to 375 degrees.
Cut the zucchini in half lengthwise. Scrape out the seeds with a large spoon, making sure to leave at least a 1/4-1/2 inch shell around all edges and the bottom of the squash. Brush the bottoms and cut surfaces lightly with 1 tablespoon of the olive oil. Lightly season the cut halves with kosher salt and pepper. Place the zucchini, cut side up, on a foil lined large rimmed baking pan. Bake @ 375 degrees for 25-30 minutes or until the zucchini is just tender.
Reduce the oven temperature to 325 degrees.
Coat the chicken on both sides with about 2 tablespoons of the taco seasoning.
Heat the remaining 1 tablespoon of the olive oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Brown the chicken on both sides. Add enough water to the pan to come up to the halfway point on the chicken breasts. Bring to a boil, then reduce the heat, cover and simmer for 15-20 minutes or until the chicken is cooked through. Remove the chicken from the cooking liquid to a plate.
After the chicken cools slightly, shred it with 2 forks.
Add the red pepper, green pepper, jalapeno and onion to the cooking liquid. Cook, stirring occasionally, until the vegetables are crisp/tender. Add the garlic. Cook and stir for 1 minute.
Add the corn, cooked rice, oregano, tomato sauce, shredded chicken, 1 cup of water and the remaining taco seasoning mix to the vegetable mixture. Stir to coat all the ingredients with the sauce, adding a little more water if it looks too dry to you. Bring the mixture to a boil, reduce the heat and simmer for 5-10 minutes or until everything is heated through.
Remove from the heat and stir in the chopped olives, if using.
Divide the refried beans evenly between the zucchini "boats", spreading the beans evenly in the well of the zucchini.
Heap the chicken mixture in each zucchini. Sprinkle the crushed tortilla chips over top.
Bake @ 325 degrees for 15-20 minutes or until everything is heated through. Remove from the oven and sprinkle the shredded cheese evenly over the top of each zucchini. Return to the oven and bake @ 325 degrees for 5-8 minutes or until the cheese is melted.
Place some shredded lettuce on each dinner plate. Place a zucchini half on the lettuce, Sprinkle with the chopped tomato and cilantro, if desired. Add a dollop of sour cream and some sliced green onion. Makes 6-8 servings.
Featured August 18, 2015 on Hun... What's For Dinner?
Featured August 18, 2015 on Tips & Tricks Link Party
Featured August 19, 2015 on Buns In My Oven
Featured August August 21,2015 Ms. Toody Goo Shoes