There are times when my cooking reputation becomes too popular . Case in point: I was having a few friends over for dinner, then word got out and a few quickly blossomed into a full party of 8. Moments like these require a creative combination of filling, affordable, and likable foods. For this instance, I had to add “vegan” to the list (to accommodate two of the eight guests in attendance). Slightly panicked with last-minute planning, my inspiration came en route to the store: I was halfway there when a car passed with a kayak strapped to its roof. That image stayed with me as I came across a pile of bright green zucchini at the store…like little green kayaks. Okay, so the connection is farfetched, but it goes to show just how unusual my thought processes are 😉 The result: Spicy Quinoa Zucchini Boats.
I love zucchini. I mean, you can pretty much use them for any number of dishes – from a simple sauté of half-moon slices to baked zucchini bread. The name comes from the Italian term zucchina, which translates to “small pumpkin.” What’s unique about the squash is its delicate flavor and fibrous meat – it can yield a beautiful result with minimal cooking. Look for average-sized zucchini with shiny, unblemished flesh; their fragility means even the smallest of bruises can ruin the squash’s flesh.
The filling for this was a “what’s-in-my-pantry” creation – I managed to unearth a can of tomato sauce, chipotles in adobo, a box of quinoa, and a container of black lentils. I then looked back at my “list” of requisites: the quinoa and lentils would be filling, and the pantry aspect inherently made it affordable. How to make it likeable…I grabbed a few spices to make this a Latin-inspired filling. The result? The guests were fully sated, my wallet wasn’t hurting, and it was unbelievably delicious! The icing to the cake – it was all vegan: click HERE to check out this beautiful, filling dish.
For the pairing, I thought focusing on the delicacy of zucchini would be an appropriate. That led me to Chopin and his Étude Op. 10, No. 3. Unlike his other etudes, this one has a poetic beauty that even Chopin couldn’t overcome: “In all my life I have never again been able to find such a beautiful melody.” Many refer to the work by its misnomer ” Tristesse”, even though Chopin never intended the use of that title. While the work can be said to have a tranquil “delicacy”, it is also rich with a colorful intricacy inherent to Chopin’s style (much like these zucchini boats had a far much greater depth than what meets the eye). I was also drawn to Chopin when considering delicate due to his own unending battle with illness and fatigue; a struggle that eventually took his life at the young age 39. This delicacy gave his artistry a much greater poignancy, which is undoubtedly why his music still touches our souls to this day. The recording below is with none other than the virtuoso Lang Lang – enjoy!
“Frédéric Chopin,” Wikipedia.com
“Étude Op. 10, No. 3 (Chopin),” Wikipedia.com
“Musical Analysis: Etudes Op.10” OurChopin.com