I’m going to be upfront here and tell you that if I were writing a cookbook, this recipe would not be in it SOLELY for the fact that it is difficult to talk about how to make stuffed zucchini boats in a graceful manner. HOWEVER, the dish was good 🙂
And when you attend etiquette class in the fourth grade and learn how to gracefully smother your bread in butter NOT with a knife but with a graceful utensil-less shmear like me, you know that being elegant around food is important. (Are you proud I remembered that, Mom?)
I suggested we make this recipe for a quick girls getaway for MLK weekend and had the delightful pleasure of having a few girl friends help out with this intricate dish. What I didn’t know was how awkward it is to describe making these. “Yes, Ari, just scrape out the zucchini’s innards.” “Ok great, now put the zucchini flesh into a bowl and set aside for now.” Maybe you’re cringing, maybe this is intriguing you. If anything, at least it makes me happy that these are the kinds of experiences when I feel most alive. Just three gals, having girl talk in our pajamas and making a laughably girly meal followed by cookies. What more could you want?
My wonderful neighbor let us borrow her lakehouse for the weekend and while I can’t say I learned any wilderness skills, I met a dog named Buttons, at two delicious cinnamon rolls and gobs of cookie dough. It was a wonderful way to spruce up January, I might say. This lake always reminds me of busy days spent learned to waterski, tweeny tankinis (yea you know your mom made you wear one), and the days when my boy neighbors and I couldn’t muster up the courage to ask each other to hang out.
Rather, we perched right next to our moms on slow summer days and begged them to call our neighbors while we told them what to say. It started with, “Mom, I’m boooorrrreeed, will you ask Mrs. stockton if the boys want to play capture the flag?” (*sullen tween sigh*) “No, Katie, you can call th–” “Moooooommm pleasseeee.” The never-ending cycle of “mom, please” actually led to some great friendships and a lot of opportunities for learning to talk to foreign male species in middle school.
This winter trip defied all lake stereotypes from my perspective. No watermelon, no watersports, and really no pressure for activity at all. I feel blessed to have friends, new and old, here in Atlanta who enjoy the peacefulness of the mountains and find pure joy in each others’ company. As I look back on the weekend, I’m smiling thinking of the sun on the water.
As I told my friends that day, I used to think the glittery spots where the sun shone on the water were where angels were (don’t know where that came from). It was definitely the presence of my neighbor, Mr. Stockton, shining down on us from above – reminding us to reflect in the quiet that special places like the lake seem to behold. Court – thanks for being with us that day!!
Stuffed Chicken Enchilada Zucchini Boats
adapted from Skinnytaste <- Yea, for real
serves 3 generously
For the enchilada sauce:
- olive oil
- 2 garlic cloves, minced
- 1 or 2 tbsp chipotle chile in adobo sauce, more if you like it spicy
- 1-1/2 cups tomato sauce (can find this in a can)
- 1/2 tsp chipotle chili powder
- 1/2 tsp ground cumin
- 2/3 cup low-sodium chicken broth
- kosher salt and fresh pepper to taste
For the zucchini boats:
- 3 medium zucchini
- 1 tsp olive oil
- 1/3 cup green onions, chopped
- 3 cloves garlic, crushed
- 1/3 cup diced green bell pepper
- 1/4 cup chopped cilantro
- 1 lb sauteed chicken breast, cut in little chunks
- 1 tsp cumin
- 1/2 tsp dried oregano
- 1/2 tsp chili powder
- 3 tbsp water or fat free chicken broth
- 1 tbsp tomato paste
- salt and pepper to taste
1. Start by having your lovely friend Julia saute some chicken breast. We just cut it into about 1-in chunks, and sauteed in olive oil, cumin, and some chili powder. Set aside.
2. In a saucepan for the enchilada sauce, saute garlic, chipotle chiles, chili powder, chicken broth, tomato sauce and salt and pepper to taste. Bring to a boil then reduce to low and simmer for 5-10 minutes. Set aside until ready to use.
3. Meanwhile, get a large pot of water onto the stove and bring to a boil. (This will take a few minutes so you have time to prep the zucchini.)
4. Cut zucchini in half lengthwise (hot-dog style), and using a small spoon, “SCOOP THE FLESH FROM THE ZUCCHINI.” It says leave the boat 1/4 in. thick on the bottom, however this is really just dependent upon how much stuffing you want in your zucchini. From our experience, you may want to scoop out more if you like the zucchini soft and less if you like it a bit sturdier. Save the flesh and chop into little pieces for later.
5. Once water is boiling, drop your zucchini halves in the boiling water for 1 minute to blanch them. Remove with tongs and set aside.
6. For the stuffing, saute onion garlic and green pepper in a skillet. Preferably have your chef wear a Happy New Years hat. When the onions are translucent and fragrant, add the zucchini insides and cilantro, Season with salt and pepper and cook until the zucchini are softened, about 4 minutes. Then , add cumin, oregano, chili powder, water or chicken broth, tomato paste and cook until everything comes together. Add in the chicken and cook for 1-2 minutes, until all the ingredients are mixed.
7. Place 1/4 cup enchilada sauce in the bottom of a casserole dish (here we go, CASSEROLE LADIES), and place your zucchini boats face up in the dish. Stuff with desired amount of chicken mixture and pour the rest of the enchilada sauce over the zucchini boats. If you so desire, top with a mound of sharp cheddar cheese.
8. Bake at 400 degrees for 30 minutes. Serve with cilantro lime rice and nommmm hard mi amigos.