Today has been quite the day. I tried to wake up a few hours before it was actually necessary for me to get up in order to get some stuff done, only to be lured back to sleep by extremely rare morning rain. Instead of having enough time to write a blog post and reply to emails before work, I had just enough time to shower and eat some leftover banana pancakes before scampering out the door. I went to work and enjoyed a game of Scattergories with my oldest students, until the moment I had to give a stern lecture as to why using a specific word that starts with N is not an acceptable answer for the category Things that are black. Iyiyi. I came home with grand plans to workout, but those fell through because... um. I'm lazy. I spent the rest of the day replying to emails, planning my trips to Switzerland and Greece (any advice friends?!), listening to some great Spotify playlists, and watching the crazy weather go from sunny one minute to raining the next. Needless to say, it wasn't terribly exciting, but I did have lots of time to think about the next few months and everything that is going to change when I move back home.
Take these vegetable and quinoa stuffed zucchinis for example. As much as I keep talking about how excited I am for Publix, Trader Joe's, and Whole Foods, I know that as soon as I go home I am going to miss produce shopping in Madrid so much. In Madrid I can go to the same stall in the market every week and build a relationship with the vendor. I can see his eyes shine with acknowledgement, and hear a gruff buenos dias when I walk up. I can watch him carefully select the best zucchini, cherries, peaches, and peppers from the baskets. I can tell him, "quiero hacer salmorejo," and he will tell me which tomatoes are the best to buy to make it. I can buy an entire week's worth of produce for less than 10 euros. I can tell him "hasta la proxima semana" and know that we will go through the entire ritual all over again the next week. I can walk around the corner of the market and go through the same ritual with the olive vendor, jamon vendor, and cheese vendor. I can leave the market knowing that I not only got high quality food, but also a quality human experience.
But change is inevitable and change is good. I am so excited to start working in my field as a full-time educator with children more suited to my personality (love ya teenagers, but I love little babies much more). I am so excited to live close to my parents again. I can't wait to see my boyfriend every few weeks instead of every 3-6 months. I am beyond excited for football games, reunions with friends, and to be a student again. I am ecstatic that I will be in the country to attend one wedding as a guest and take part as a bridesmaid in another. No more Skype dates, 5 AM football obsessions, birthdays abroad, or missed family events. I know that going home is going to be incredible, but man, oh, man Madrid, you'll make it hard to leave ya.
Vegetable & Quinoa Stuffed Zucchini
Adapted from Taste, Love, & Nourish
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- 1 medium onion, finely diced
- 1 medium red pepper, finely diced
- 2 tomatoes, finely diced
- 6 medium zucchini, halved lengthwise
- salt & pepper, to taste
- 1 cup spinach leaves, chopped
- 1 cup cooked quinoa - my favorite tutorial on how to make perfect quinoa!
- 3-4 large basil leaves, torn
- Parmesan cheese, grated
- In a 12" skillet over medium high heat, add the olive oil, onion and red pepper. Reduce the heat to medium and saute just until the onions soften a bit.
- While you wait for the onions to soften, scoop a bit of each zucchini out with a spoon. Dice the scooped bits up well and put aside.
- Add tomatoes, zucchini bits, and some salt and pepper to the pan. Continue to saute for another couple of minutes. Add the spinach and stir until the spinach wilts down.
- Remove the pan from the heat and add cooked quinoa. Sprinkle with some fresh basil leaves. Add Parmesan. Stir to combine and set aside.
- Preheat oven to 375 degrees.
- Line a baking sheet with foil or parchment for easy clean up. Arrange the zucchini on the sheet. Using a small spoon divide the mixture between all of the zucchini halves. cover baking sheet with foil. You can refrigerate now for a couple of days if you'd like to serve it later. Otherwise, place sheet in the oven and bake for 30 minutes, covered.
- After 30 minutes, uncover and top each zucchini with some more Parmesan cheese. Place the sheet back in the oven and bake for another ten minutes.
- Remove from the oven and serve warm. Enjoy!
You can never go wrong with a beautiful photo of Madrid.