If you know me and my family, you know we love Mexican food. Chips and salsa, burritos, fajitas, migas… all of it! My husband and oldest son are especially fond of chorizo. The smoky flavor is just so unique and delicious, and it pairs well with so many things… I have a lot of fun experimenting with chorizo and finding new ways to use it. I’m happy to say it goes great with zucchini.
This Tex-Mex dish is deceivingly low-calorie (using my exact measurements in MyFitnessPal’s recipe maker, these came out to 282 calories each) and tastes phenomenal. Aiden, my seven-year-old, occasionally tells me I should open a restaurant (“oh yeah, let me get right on that”) and when I make these zucchini boats he usually says that after every other bite. These things look great on a plate, will impress the hell out of whoever you serve it to, and you can feel good about eating them!
I managed to get some in-process pictures while making these, which is honestly shocking. It’s hard enough to take pictures when food is done and plated (because I’m hungry!!) but slowing down to photograph each step is even tougher. Obviously I need a photographer to come to my house every time I cook and take pictures for me. However, I am pleased with how much better I’ve gotten at it already, so hopefully I’ll improve more, both in skill and efficiency. Photography: it’s an art for sure.
Anyway, here we go with the food pics. 😀
You’ll want to start by preheating your oven to 375 degrees. Then, slice your zucchini in half and use a spoon to scoop out the seeds and softer pulp to make a “boat.” Season with salt, pepper, and a bit of smoked paprika. (Of course, feel free to experiment! Spices are the easiest thing to play around with.) Lay your seasoned boats in a square baking dish, and pop them in the oven for about 20 minutes (this definitely depends on the size of your zucchini, whether your oven runs true to temperature, and how many boats you’re making). You want them to be tender but not mushy! “Easily pierced with a fork” is a good measure of done-ness.
Meanwhile, get out the rest of your ingredients:
Refried beans not pictured. 🙂 This is my favorite kind of chorizo to use! I like pork because it’s a bit leaner than the beef version, so it’s lower in calories. If you’re not worried about that, feel free to use beef! While your zucchini boats are baking, squeeze the chorizo out of its wrapper into a frying pan and brown it over medium heat. Now, when I say brown it, you don’t want it to literally be BROWN–it will still have a nice red-brown color when fully cooked. Takes about 5 minutes.
You will notice that chorizo is very greasy, so this next step is important: after it is cooked, line a plate with paper towels, like you would for pan-fried bacon, and put the cooked chorizo on it to drain.
Meanwhile, you’ll want to be dicing an onion, a red bell pepper, and a fresh (seeded!) jalapeno. Christmas on a plate.
Once the pan you cooked the chorizo in has cooled a bit, use a paper towel to wipe out most of the remaining grease. Then, add about half a teaspoon of oil (I used regular vegetable oil) and heat on a burner. Saute your onions and peppers (you did seed the jalapeno, right?) until tender. Next, add your drained chorizo back in.
Aaaaand… mix it up! You have now made your delicious stuffing. Take it off the stove.
Your boats should be about done by now. When they are tender, remove them from the oven and let them cool until you can handle them a bit. Open a can of refried beans and use a spoon to smear a bit in the bottom of the boat, like this:
We’re getting close. Next is your chorizo stuffing. Add it on top of the beans.
Finally, you’ll probably want to add a bit of grated cheese on top. I like to use queso fresco for an authentic taste. Since we keep it low-calorie, I don’t use too much cheese, but if you want more go for it! On top of the cheese, add some chopped fresh cilantro. Yum.
Looks pretty awesome, right? Wait ’til you taste it.
Now, put them back in the oven for about 10 minutes or until the cheese it melted and everything is heated through. Basically, just keep an eye on your cheese. You want it to fully melted and hot but not browned! When they’re done, put them on a plate with your choice of sides (I like rice with these!) and garnish with a sprig or two of fresh cilantro. Serve and let the compliments roll in.
Enjoy! Let me know if you try this out, or think of any creative additions or substitutions!
- 2 medium-large zucchini
- 1 package Cacique pork chorizo
- 1/2 of a medium onion
- 1 fresh jalapeno pepper
- 1/2 of a red bell pepper
- 1/2 cup refried beans
- 1/2 tsp vegetable oil
- 2.5 oz queso fresco
- Salt and pepper, paprika, to taste
- Preheat oven to 375 degrees.
- Slice zucchinis in half longways and use spoon to scoop out seeds and pulp to create four "boats." Season boats with salt, pepper, and paprika.
- Bake in square baking pan for 20-25 minutes or until easily pierced with a fork.
- Meanwhile, cook chorizo in a frying pan over medium heat until cooked through. Remove chorizo from pan and place on a plate lined with paper towels to drain.
- While chorizo cooks and drains, dice onion and bell pepper, and seed and dice jalapeno.
- Once the pan has cooled a bit, use a paper towel to wipe out most of the remaining grease, then add oil to pan and heat. Add peppers and onion and saute over medium heat until tender.
- Add drained chorizo back to pan and mix in with peppers and onion. Remove mixture from heat.
- When the zucchini boats are done, remove them from the oven and let them cool until able to be handled. Use a spoon to put a layer of refried beans in each boat.
- Divide chorizo mixture and layer it on top of the beans in each boat.
- Grate cheese and sprinkle over chorizo mixture. Top with fresh chopped cilantro if desired.
- Bake another 10 minutes or until cheese is melted and zucchini boats are hot.
- Remove from oven, let cool two or three minutes, and serve.