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Stuffed Zucchini Boats

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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 incredibly 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 alternative, like mushrooms or tofu.

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 or Vegan Zucchini Boats:

  • Choose firm, medium-to-large size 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, substitute the sausage with a meat alternative. In addition, replace the cheese with vegan cheese.
  • Carefully spoon out the seeds to create a boat, leaving as much flesh as possible.
  • 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 the use of simple ingredients and easy technique. 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

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

Prep the Zucchini

  1. While the sauce is simmering, preheat the oven to 350°.
  2. Cut the ends off the zucchini. Slice each in half, lengthwise.
  3. Use a spoon to scoop out the seeds, making sure to leave as much of the flesh as possible.
  4. Sprinkle the insides with salt. Wait a few minutes to extract excess water, then blot with a paper towel.
  5. Place the hollowed-out zucchini boats into a prepared, oven-safe casserole dish, or cast iron pan.
  6. Season the insides with salt and pepper.
  7. Add a layer of shredded mozzarella cheese to the bottom of each boat.

To Fill and Bake the Zucchini Boats

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

How to Serve and Store Stuffed Zucchini Boats

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

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 Recipes to Love

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A white bowl filled with mashed potatoes and one stuffed zucchini boat.

Stuffed Zucchini Boats


Description

These Stuffed Zucchini Boats are easy to prepare, and incredibly 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, then baked to perfection.


Ingredients

Scale
  • 2 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 or marinara sauce
  • 1 teaspoon Italian seasoning
  • 1/2 teaspoon black pepper
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 1/2 cups mozzarella cheese, shredded
  • 2 tablespoons fresh basil, plus more for garnish

Instructions

  1. Heat 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 and Italian seasoning.
  4. Soften the vegetables for a few minutes.
  5. Add the tomatoes (salt the tomatoes), or tomato sauce and fresh basil. 
  6. Simmer for at least 20 minutes if using fresh tomatoes, and 5-10 minutes if using tomato sauce or marinara sauce.
  7. While the sauce is simmering, cut the ends off of the zucchini. Slice each down the middle, lengthwise.
  8. With a spoon, remove the seeds to create a “boat.” Carefully, so as not to remove too much of the flesh.
  9. Salt the inside flesh to release excess moisture. Give it a few minutes. Blot the inside with paper towels.
  10. Place the hollowed-out zucchini boats into a prepared, oven-safe casserole dish, or cast iron pan. If needed, trim the bottom of each boat to keep steady.
  11. 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.
  12. Preheat the oven to 350F (177°C).
  13. Generously fill the boats with the meat sauce. Top each with shredded mozzarella cheese. 
  14. Fill the gaps in the casserole dish with remaining sauce. 
  15. Cover. Bake for 30-35 minutes, or until the zucchini are tender.
  16. Remove the cover and broil for a few minutes to brown the cheese.
  17. Serve immediately.
  18. ENJOY!

Notes

  • Choose firm, medium-to-large size 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, substitute the sausage with a meat alternative. Use vegan cheese.
  • Carefully spoon out the seeds to create a boat, leaving as much flesh as possible.
  • 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.
  • Total cook time with vary depending on whether you are using fresh tomatoes or a jarred sauce. 
  • Prep Time: 10 minutes
  • Cook Time: 50 minutes
  • Category: Dinner
  • Method: Easy
  • Cuisine: American

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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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