For days now, I’ve been longingly staring at the cherry tree in neighbor’s garden. The cherries are becoming riper every day and look like they want me to eat them. But there is a fence. And I sadly turn away just to get my gaze caught by it again the next minute.
Today, it was the first day that really felt like summer, with a sudden heat, including all the sweating, craving cold food and drinks and spreading out the four limbs as to avoid skin contact that could produce more warmth. I went on a bike ride through the heat and I was spotting more cherry trees all along the way. I think I have a special radar for them that I probably inherited from my mom, who is the biggest cherry lover I´ve ever known. For my part, I clearly remember buying two kilos of cherries at the market once and parking the bicycle right next to a trash bin for spitting the stones and not moving away until the last cherries had disappeared into my belly (afterwards I regretted not having stopped a little earlier!).
So today I was seeing all these houses with their cherry trees behind their fences, until finally, on my way back home, I found not one, but several cherry trees, almost without any fence! …Okay I had to slip through the wires of a little fence, but I think it was meant to keep animals inside, not cherry lovers outside. And I was in paradise. I was wondering if there is something better than being with a cherry tree with ripe fruits, but the only thing I could come up with is climbing the cherry tree to reach even more cherries. There they were, all these dark-red-almost-black ripe and sweet cherries. Soon my cycling gloves (I couldn’t find the moment to take them off) were stained with dark red juice that is probably never going off again, but will always remind me of being perfectly happy stuffing one sweet cherry after the other into my mouth.
Are you wondering what the heck the spinach stuffed zucchini announced in the title have to do with the cherries? Honestly, nothing. I didn’t have any container or bag with me to take some cherries home, consequently no cherry recipe today (but there will be soon!)… I was just still indulging in the memory of being in that high grass, jumping to reach more and bigger cherries, getting stained and scratched, not worrying about it at all.
I prepared the zucchini when I came back. It is kind of a mini-quiche in a zucchini with the toasted hazelnuts giving it some crunch and deep flavor and the cranberries adding a surprising sweetness.
- 2 Zucchini
- 3 heaping cups fresh spinach (chopped)
- 1/4 cup raw hazelnuts
- 1/4 cup dried cranberries
- 3 tablespoons olive oil
- 1/2 cup portobello mushrooms (optional)
- 1 clove garlic
- 2 eggs
- 1/4 cup feta cheese
- 1/2 cup cooked quinoa (red or white, optional)
- 1 teaspoon sea salt
- freshly ground black pepper to taste
Preheat the oven to 200ºC/400ºF. For cooking the quinoa (if using), I like to put 1 teaspoon olive oil into a pot, add the quinoa and toast it briefly and then add the cup of vegetable broth (I use this awesome recipe, since I discovered it I always have it in my freezer). Cover and simmer at low heat for 15 minutes, then turn of the heat and leave it covered for 5 more minutes.
Cut the Zucchini in half and scoop out the seeds. Boil them for 5 min. Meanwhile, wash and chop the spinach (if using baby spinach, no chopping needed). Put the olive oil into a large pan and add the hazelnuts, finely chopped or minced garlic and the mushrooms (if using). Sautée over medium heat until the hazelnuts get slightly browned. Add the cranberries and the spinach. Lower the heat and sautée until the spinach is tender.
Slightly beat the eggs, then crumble the feta cheese in and add the spinach mixture and the quinoa while stirring. Fill this into the Zucchini. Put onto a parchment paper lined tray on the middle rack of the oven and bake for around 20 minutes.