Grilled zucchini is usually assigned the lesser role of a side dish, but adding a hearty grain stuffing upgrades it to a main course. For the filling, quinoa is cooked in a mixture of cashews, garlic, and seasonings that are blended until thick and creamy, then the whole thing is stuffed into hollowed-out zucchini. Sandwich the squash halves together and grill until slightly charred on the outside. Serve with a bright vegetable salad for a healthy and satisfying vegan meal.
Game plan: The cashews need to be soaked for 2 hours before cooking, so plan accordingly.
2 tablespoons finely chopped fresh Italian parsley leaves
3/4 teaspoon finely grated lemon zest (from about 1 medium lemon)
1 teaspoon freshly squeezed lemon juice
For the zucchini:
6 medium zucchini (about 2 pounds)
2 tablespoonsolive oil
Freshly ground black pepper
For the quinoa:
Place the water and cashews in a blender and let sit until softened, about 2 hours.
Add the oil, garlic, measured salt, cumin, and cayenne and blend until smooth. Transfer to a medium saucepan.
Rinse the quinoa in a strainer under cold water until the water runs clear. Transfer to the saucepan with the cashew mixture and stir to combine.
Bring to a simmer over medium heat. Reduce the heat to low and continue to simmer, stirring occasionally with a wooden spoon and making sure to scrape the bottom and sides of the pan, until the white outer casings on the quinoa have popped, revealing translucent little beads, about 15 to 20 minutes. (While the quinoa is cooking, heat the grill and prepare the zucchini.) Remove from the heat.
Add the parsley, zest, and lemon juice and stir to combine. Taste and season with more salt as needed; set aside.
For the zucchini:
Heat a charcoal or gas grill to medium high (about 375°F to 425°F).
Cut each zucchini in half lengthwise. Using a small spoon, scoop out and discard the flesh, leaving about 1/4 inch intact around the outer edge. Place the zucchini halves on a baking sheet.
Brush the inside and outside of the zucchini halves with all of the oil, then generously season both sides with salt and pepper; set aside.
When the quinoa mixture is ready, divide it evenly among the zucchini halves, spreading it into an even, flat layer. Close the zucchini halves, matching the halves if possible, to sandwich the filling. Secure each zucchini with 4 toothpicks, crossing 2 toothpicks at each end.
Place the stuffed zucchini on the grill. Close the grill and cook until grill marks appear on the bottom, about 6 minutes. Carefully flip the zucchini over, close the grill, and cook until grill marks appear on the second side and the filling is heated through, about 5 to 6 minutes more. Transfer to a serving platter, remove the toothpicks, and serve.