Cucina Valentina

Cucina Valentina

Friday, April 7, 2017

Enchilada Stuffed Zucchini

In this foodie realm that we all revolve in, something recently happened to me that I feel bears mentioning.

If you are following this blog you know that I am an Italian girl who loves to cook, loves animals, nature, photography, bird-watching and also boating. I subscribe to multiple food magazines, record most of the cooking shows and belong to several cooking/food/recipe sharing Facebook groups. Yesterday,on one of these Facebook groups, something disturbing took place.

I had just posted a photo of last night's dinner dish, lemon shrimp with roasted asparagus, and commented that it contained no fat, no sugar, as spring is already upon us and I am trying to lighten up our fare.  In the post I also mentioned the word, DIET.

Holy hell! 

Utter chaos ensued. Little did I know that the mere mention of the word could send readers over edge with pent up hostility.  About a second later I was admonished in a comment and warned that my choice of words was insensitive and constituted body shaming. I was asked to remove the "offensive" word from my post.

Censorship? I'm sorry, but no. I would rather leave the group than edit my post. So I did.

Body Shaming? Really? I am no skinny-minnie, and never have been. I love food, cocktails and wine. More often than not, I lack self-discipline. I would never body shame anyone. I was simply posting my life experience, which includes getting ready for summer, which means it is time to put on the (be forewarned; here comes another utterly offensive word) ... bikini.

Deep down I believe everyone desires a healthy body, so regardless of those who disapprove, I will continue to lighten up my recipes for spring and hope my audience appreciates it. This doesn't mean that come next fall there won't be plenty of hearty shepherd's pies and cheesy potato dishes, it just means that for now, I'm going easy on the calories. And really, what could it hurt?

I will give you a great tip. When you are trying to reduce your fat intake, fat free chicken broth, unsweetened cashew milk and non-fat Greek yogurt are your best friends. You can dry saute any vegetable or meat, and when it starts to brown, deglaze with the chicken broth. I promise that in the end result, you will not miss the butter.

I use the cashew milk anytime I would normally reach for the heavy cream.  It is the perfect way to finish a sauce and achieve a rich, satisfying end result.

Non fat Greek yogurt (I use Fage) is a great substitute for mayonnaise and/or sour cream in dressings and dips.  You literally cannot tell the difference.



Enchilada Stuffed Zucchini 


4 large zucchini
1 6oz can enchilada sauce
I T Garlic Infused Olive Oil
1 lb ground turkey or diced chicken breast or thigh
1 large shallot
1/2 red bell pepper
2 jalapenos
5 cloves garlic
1/4 t Chef Merito fajita seasoning
1 t chioptle chili powder
1 t cumin
1 t oregano (or 1 T fresh chopped)
1/2 C fat free chicken broth
1/2 C cheese
1 avocado, sliced
4 T cilantro (rough chopped)
2 T scallions (minced)


Heat oven to 400 degrees.

Scoop out zucchini flesh with a melon baller. Place zucchini shells on a rimmed baking sheet and bake 10-15 minutes.  Rough chop zucchini flesh.

Meanwhile, heat Garlic Infused Olive Oil in a medium skillet, then brown the chicken or ground turkey with chopped shallot, garlic, red bell pepper, zucchini flesh, jalapeno and seasonings.  Drain fat.  Cook over medium high heat until turkey begins to brown, then add chicken broth and let simmer until thick.

Pour half the enchilada sauce into a rectangle baking dish. Lay the zucchini in the dish, top with meat mixture then drizzle remaining enchilada sauce on top. Sprinkle with cheese of your choice, cheddar, jack, feta, cotija... then bake at 400 for 30-40 minutes.

Let rest for 10 minutes once out of the oven. Drizzle with lemon Chipotle Crema, top with sliced avocado and a sprinkling of cilantro and scallions.

Lemon-Chipotle Crema




1/2 C Fage non-fat Greek yogurt
1/2 C mayonnaise
1 - 4 T Cashew Milk
1 t honey
Juice and zest of 1 lemon
1/2 t chipotle chili powder
salt and pepper to taste  

Whisk all ingredients until well blended.

I keep this crema in a plastic squeeze bottle in the refrigerator.  If it's too thick, thin with a little more milk.