The zucchini can be par-cooked 2 days in advance of finishing the dish. The freekeh can be cooked 3 days prior to making the stuffing, and the stuffing can be prepared 2-3 days prior to stuffing the zucchini. The zucchini can be par-cooked, stuffed, then frozen, and you can pop the whole thing in the oven after defrosting to finish the dish (in which case it may need a longer cooking time).
The recipe also works nicely with a top layer of vegan cheese (or regular cheese), in which case you can broil the zucchini for 5-10 minutes instead of baking it for the final 15.
Bulgur wheat, quinoa, and couscous can be easily substituted for the freekeh. —Gena Hamshaw
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
dry freekeh, rinsed
olive oil, plus extra for brushing the zucchini
small red onion, chopped
cloves garlic, minced
currants (or raisins)
toasted pine nuts
ed wine vinegar (to taste)
crushed red pepper flakes
chopped parsley leaves
optional: Your favorite tahini dressing or pomegranate molasses, for drizzling
Preheat the oven to 375°F. Cut the zucchini in half lengthwise, then use a melon baller or a small spoon to carefully scoop out the seeds. Place the zucchini, cut side up, on a baking sheet and brush with a little olive oil. Sprinkle the zucchini with salt and pepper. Bake for 20 minutes, or until the zucchini are fork tender but still relatively firm and holding their shape. Set the zucchini aside.
Bring 1 1/2 cups water to boil in a medium pot or saucepan. Add the freekeh, then lower the heat to a simmer and cover. Simmer for 20-25 minutes, or until the freekeh is tender. Drain any excess water from the freekeh and set it aside.
Heat the 2 tablespoons oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Add the onion and cook, stirring frequently, for 5-7 minutes, or until the onion is very tender and just browning. Add the garlic and cook, stirring constantly, for one more minute. Add the cooked freekeh, cumin, coriander, and 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt to the pan and stir the ingredients well to combine. Stir in the currants, pine nuts, vinegar, and crushed red pepper flakes to taste. Taste the mixture and adjust the salt and vinegar as needed. Stir in the parsley.
When you're ready to finish cooking the dish, fill each zucchini boat with enough of the freekeh mixture to be rounded on top, but not falling over the sides of the zucchini. Transfer the zucchini back to the oven and bake for another 15 minutes, or until the zucchini is completely fork tender and just browning at the edges. To serve, you can top the zucchini with extra chopped parsley and drizzle it with your favorite lemony tahini dressing, or with a thin drizzle of pomegranate molasses.
Gena is a registered dietitian, recipe developer, and food blogger. She's the author of three cookbooks, including Power Plates (2017) and Food52 Vegan (2015). She enjoys cooking vegetables, making bread, and challenging herself with vegan baking projects.