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Stuffed Zucchini Boats

Ingredients

  • 4 medium-sized zucchini
  • 1/3 lb ground beef (80/20)
  • 3 hot sausage links, casings removed
  • 4 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 shallot, minced
  • 2 C tomato sauce
  • 1 tsp crushed red pepper
  • 1 tsp Italian seasoning blend
  • kosher salt/pepper
  • 1 1/2 C shredded mozzarella cheese
  • 2 TBLS fresh parsley, chopped
  • freshly grated Parmesan cheese
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Here’s a delicious recipe to use up the abundance of zucchini from your summer garden, or farmer’s market. These Stuffed Zucchini Boats are easy to prepare, and so versatile. Easily, substitute eggplant and/or yellow squash for the zucchini. The zucchini are generously filled with a savory sausage meat sauce, topped with gooey mozzarella cheese, and baked to perfection. Alternatively, make this recipe vegetarian by replacing the sausage with a meat substitute. Mushrooms or tofu will work. The possibilities are endless!

6 Stuffed Zucchini Boats baked in a cast iron pan. The cheese is melty and brown.

WHY YOU SHOULD MAKE THIS ZUCCHINI RECIPE

  • Flavorful: These zucchini boats are bursting with flavor, thanks to the savory sausage stuffing and gooey mozzarella cheese.
  • Versatile Options: Whether you’re a meat lover or vegetarian, this recipe caters to all preferences. You can easily swap out the sausage for meat alternatives like tofu or mushrooms.
  • Creative Presentation: Serving your meal in zucchini boats adds a fun and visually appealing aspect to your dinner table. It’s a great way to get kids excited about eating their vegetables.
  • Easy Storage: Leftovers can be refrigerated and reheated, making this recipe suitable for meal prep or enjoying the next day.
  • Garden Bounty: If you have an abundance of zucchinis from your garden, this recipe is a fantastic way to utilize them and avoid food waste.
  • Comfort Food Twist: Stuffed Zucchini Boats offer a comforting and satisfying meal that’s perfect for cozy evenings at home.

TIPS ON MAKING THE BEST STUFFED ZUCCHINI BOATS

Here are a few tips to help you easily make this Stuffed Zucchini Boats recipe. Included are also great substitutions and how to make Vegetarian/Vegan Zucchini Boats:

  • Choose firm, medium-sized zucchini that are uniform in shape.
  • Yellow squash or eggplant are great substitutions for the zucchini.
  • Replace the hot Italian sausage with mild sausage, ground beef, ground chicken or ground turkey.
  • If fresh tomatoes are not available, use tomato sauce or marinara sauce.
  • Blanch the fresh tomatoes for 30-60 seconds to remove the skin prior to adding to the sauce.
  • Simmer the sauce for at least 20 minutes to allow the flavors to develop. Five to ten minutes if using marinara or tomato sauce.
  • To make this dish vegetarian/vegan, leave out the meat and use the flesh in the sauce. Use vegan cheese.
  • Carefully spoon out just enough flesh to create a boat. 
  • Use the flesh in the sauce, or use to make zucchini bread.
  • If needed, trim the bottom of the zucchini boat to keep upright/steady in the casserole dish.

HOW TO MAKE ZUCCHINI BOATS

Stuffed Zucchini Boats are easy to make thanks to their simple ingredients and techniques. With a bit of prepping ahead of time, you can make the cooking process even more efficient, making this recipe perfect for busy weeknights without spending hours in the kitchen.

Prepare the Sausage Meat Sauce

  • In a large skillet, cook the ground sausage (or meat alternative) over medium heat until almost cooked through.
  • Add diced onions and minced garlic to the skillet and sauté until they become translucent.
  • Add the fresh chopped tomatoes, or pour in the marinara/tomato sauce
  • Season with a touch of salt, black pepper and Italian seasoning. Optionally, add crushed red pepper.
  • Simmer for 20 minutes for fresh tomatoes, or 5-10 minutes for marinara or tomato sauce.

Prep the Zucchini

  • Preheat your oven to 350°F.
  • Cut the ends off the zucchinis, then slice in half lengthwise.
  • Use a spoon to scoop out the flesh, leaving about a 1/4-inch border around the edges.
  • Place the hollowed-out zucchini boats in a prepared, oven-safe casserole dish, or cast iron pan.
  • Season the insides with salt and add a touch of mozzarella cheese to the bottom of the boat.

To Fill and Bake the Zucchini Boats

  • Spoon the sausage meat sauce generously into each boat.
  • Fill gaps in the baking dish with the leftover sauce.
  • Sprinkle shredded mozzarella cheese on top of each boat.
  • Cover the baking dish with foil and bake for 30-35 minutes or until the zucchini boats are tender.
  • Remove the foil and broil for an additional 2-3 minutes until the cheese turns golden and bubbly.
  • Serve garnished with freshly grated Parmesan cheese and fresh basil or chopped parsley (optional).

HOW TO SERVE AND STORE STUFFED ZUCCHINI BOATS

These Stuffed Zucchini Boats pair wonderfully with a crisp salad, garlic bread, or a light cucumber salad. For a heartier meal, serve with mashed potatoes, or a side of pasta.

A brown plate with two baked zucchini boats and mashed potatoes.

To store leftovers, refrigerate the zucchini boats in an airtight container for up to 2-3 days. Reheat in the oven at 350°F (175°C) for about 15 minutes.

MORE ZUCCHINI TO LOVE

Here are a few more zucchini recipes you should try:

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6 Stuffed Zucchini Boats baked in a cast iron pan. The cheese is melty and brown.

Stuffed Zucchini Boats


Description

These Stuffed Zucchini Boats are easy to prepare, and so versatile. Easily, substitute eggplant and/or yellow squash for the zucchini. The zucchini are generously filled with a savory sausage meat sauce, topped with gooey mozzarella cheese, and baked to perfection.


Ingredients

Scale
  • 4 medium zucchini
  • 1 teaspoon olive oil
  • 1 pound hot Italian sausage (see notes for substitutions)
  • 4 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1/2 yellow onion, minced
  • 2 cups chopped tomatoes or 1 1/2 cups tomato sauce
  • 1 teaspoon Italian seasoning
  • 1/2 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
  • 1/2 teaspoon black pepper
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 1/2 cups mozzarella cheese, shredded
  • 2 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley or basil, for garnish
  • 2 tablespoons Parmesan cheese, freshly grated

Instructions

  1. Heat up the olive oil in a large saucepan.
  2. Add the sausage and allow to brown.
  3. Once the sausage is almost fully-cooked, add in the minced garlic, onions, crushed red pepper (optional) and Italian seasoning.
  4. Soften the vegetables for a few minutes. Add the tomatoes (salt the tomatoes), or tomato sauce.
  5. Simmer for at least 20 minutes if using fresh tomatoes, and 5-10 minutes if using tomato sauce or marinara.
  6. While the sauce is simmering, cut the ends off of the zucchini. Slice each down the middle, lengthwise.
  7. With a spoon, remove the seed and part of the flesh to create a “boat.” Carefully, so as not to remove too much of the flesh.
  8. Place the hollowed-out zucchini boats into a prepared, oven-safe casserole dish, or cast iron pan. Trim the bottom of each boat if needed to keep steady.
  9. Season the inside of the zucchini boats with salt and black pepper. Add a sprinkle of shredded mozzarella cheese to the bottom of each boat.
  10. Preheat the oven to 350°.
  11. Generously fill the boats with the meat sauce. Top each with shredded mozzarella cheese. 
  12. Fill the gaps in the casserole dish with remaining sauce. 
  13. Cover with foil and bake for 30-35 minutes, or until the zucchini are tender.
  14. Remove the cover and broil for a few minutes to brown the cheese.
  15. Serve immediately with freshly grated Parmesan cheese.
  16. ENJOY!

Notes

  • Choose firm, medium-sized zucchini.
  • Yellow squash or eggplant are great substitutions for the zucchini.
  • Replace the hot Italian sausage with mild sausage, ground beef, ground chicken or ground turkey.
  • If fresh tomatoes are not available, use tomato sauce or marinara sauce.
  • Simmer the sauce for at least 20 minutes to allow the flavors to develop.
  • To make this dish vegetarian/vegan, leave out the meat and use the flesh in the sauce with a meat alternative. Use vegan cheese.
  • Carefully spoon out just enough flesh to create a boat. 
  • Use the flesh in the sauce, or use to make zucchini bread.
  • Adjust the bake time to your preference.
  • If needed, trim the bottom of the zucchini boat to keep upright/steady in the casserole dish.
  • see post for additional tips and notes.
  • Prep Time: 10 minutes
  • Cook Time: 50 minutes
  • Category: Dinner
  • Method: Easy
  • Cuisine: American

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GET TO KNOW ME!

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WELCOME! My name is Melissa Latin aka. Charlotte Fashion Plate. Happy to meet you! I am more than just recipes. I love fashion and style too! Most importantly, I love my Family (my Hubby and my Fur Babies). My Husband (aka my “Kitchen Bitch”) means the world to me. He’s pretty damn cool too. Not only is he one of the nicest guys you will ever meet, he also has had a lengthy career in professional hockey. Not only winning two Stanley Cups with the Pittsburgh Penguins in the early ’90’s, but most recently winning the Calder Cup with the Charlotte Checkers, amongst many other accolades. If you live in Charlotte and play hockey, or have a family member who plays, be sure to contact him!

Our life has changed dramatically in the past few years with the passing of our two goldendoodles, Vegas and Viva. We were lucky enough to have Vegas for five years (totally wish it was longer). Most recently, losing our Viva to a brain tumor in July of 2020. We welcomed our mini goldendoodle 7, almost seven years ago. We just added the amazing Hazel! Of course, I am always posting tons and tons of photos! Be sure to check out my recipe for Pet Bone Broth! This broth is super rich in nutrients and will provide your pet with a multitude of health benefits!

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