This vegetarian stuffed zucchini casserole comes with a simple, delicious tomato sauce and green lentils and makes a great family dinner, side dish or pot luck recipe. Gluten free, low in fat, it's bursting with delicious and healthy ingredients!
Start by making the tomato sauce. In a medium saucepan heat up 2 tablespoons of oil, add the bay leaf, chopped garlic, onion, celery and carrot. Cook over a medium heat for about 5 minutes stirring often.
Add the canned tomatoes, oregano and seasoning. Stir, cover and bring to the boil then simmer for 10 minutes stirring occasionally. Remove from the heat, stir in the grated parmesan and set aside.
Start preparing the zucchini while the tomato sauce is bubbling away. Trim off both ends, cut each zucchini in half lengthways then cut out the middle leaving around 5 mm around the edge. Make sure you don't cut all the way through. If you prefer you can use a melon baller to scoop out the middle bit by bit. Chop the zucchini pulp quite finely and add into the filling mixture (see below).Meanwhile preheat the oven to 400 F/ 200 C/ gas mark 6.
In a large pan heat up 2 tablespoons of oil, add the finely chopped garlic, onion and zucchini pulp and cook over a medium heat for 5 minutes stirring often. Add the lentils, vegetable stock and pepper to taste, stir, cover and cook for about 13 minutes until most of the moisture has been absorbed, stirring often. Remove from the heat.
Pour the tomato sauce into a large casserole pan (big enough to comfortably fit 6 zucchini halves). Arrange the zucchini halves on top pressing gently into the sauce and fill each halve with the lentil mixture (use any moisture that hasn't quite been absorbed). Scatter over the grated cheese and cover with foil. Bake in the centre of the oven for 40 minutes.
Remove from the oven and drizzle a little oil over the zucchini. Put the pan under the broiler, without the foil, for another 10 minutes or so (or increase the temperature to 220 C and bake in the upper part of the oven) until lightly browned. Remove from the oven and serve.
Use medium size zucchini - very large zucchini are watery and not as tasty.
I do not recommend using red lentils in this recipe as they do not hold their shape as well as green lentils do and may become mushy.
Make ahead: To save time you can prepare the tomato sauce ahead. Once cooled refrigerate it for up to 2 days. Heat up before making the casserole.
Because the stock contains a lot of salt there is no need to add any into the lentil mixture.
Make sure you don't broil the casserole for too long. The top should be golden and lightly crisped up but not dry.
Best served immediately. Leftovers can be refrigerated for up to 3 days. Reheat in the microwave.