Summer comes quickly, but stays for a short time, so little things hold a larger meaning: the smell of tomatoes ripening in the garden, vegetables warmed by the morning sun on market days, kids running through sprinklers on a dusty afternoon…Canadians appreciate their summers. Many summer memories are tied to our senses and when those involve food there’s often a story associated with them.
When we moved to Canada, we bought an 1800s log cabin complete with land, and my parents planted a LARGE vegetable garden, large enough to feed the surrounding neighbourhood and us. When I say we ate a lot of vegetables, take whatever you imagine and multiply it by five. Among the dozens (it seemed to a young child) kinds of vegetables Mom planted were peppers and tomatoes, and one of her go-to recipes were stuffed peppers and tomatoes.
My garden vegetables are still not ripe, thanks to a late start, but the markets and produce sections of the grocery stores are overflowing with local summer vegetables. Zucchini, peppers, and tomatoes offer a variety of nutrients and flavours and are a good base for a complete meal. Serve the stuffed vegetables with a side salad of tomatoes sprinkled with feta and vinaigrette.
Preheat the oven to 190C/375F.
Cut the ends off the zucchini and cut them in half. Scoop out the seeds.
Cut the tops off the tomatoes and peppers and scoop out the insides. Set aside the insides of the tomatoes.
Boil 1 cup of water to cook the quinoa. Once the water has boiled add in 1/2 cup dry quinoa and cook until water is absorbed. Stir, remove from heat, and set aside. This yields 1 cup of cooked quinoa.
Heat the olive oil in a skillet over medium heat and begin cooking the onion. Add the meat once the onion has softened slightly.
Brown the meat, seasoning with salt, pepper, and oregano.
Add tomato sauce, the insides of the hollowed out tomatoes, crushed garlic, and the cooked quinoa and allow to simmer over low-medium heat for an additional 5 minutes.
Remove the quinoa and beef mixture from the heat and fill the vegetables. Top with grated Parmesan and bake for 30-35 minutes.
Do you plant a vegetable garden? What are your favourite veggies to grow?