These zucchini boats are a healthy and flavorful Italian-inspired meal, and a delicious way to sneak in some extra veggies!
Sailing Into a Tasty Meal with Zucchini Boats
When I think about some of my favorite recipes, I might just say that I have a thing for “stuffed” items.
I love things like stuffed eggplant, stuffed acorn squash, and stuffed potatoes.
The idea of making a flavorful, hearty filling to load into a healthy veggie and then topping it with a tasty sauce and perhaps some cheese is just so appealing!
Enter these scrumptious little zucchini boats, another fresh and healthy stuffed vegetable recipe with a bit of an Italian flair, one you can feel good about eating.
Low on carbs and high in fiber and amino acids, this zucchini boat recipe is just the ticket when a light and healthy, veggie-rich meal is what you’re after.
It's also a wonderfully savory way to stuff any leftover zucchini you may have during the season! 😉
The Best Way to Make Stuffed Zucchini Boats
You want the stuffed zucchini recipe to be simple.
So I've made whipping up a hot, saucy batch of delicious zucchini boats as easy as simmering up the quick homemade sauce (my fire-roasted tomato sauce kicks it up a notch), mixing together the quick filling, and grilling the zucchini for a few minutes for some extra flavor and that tasty charred look.
Then, all that's left is filling and topping these zucchini boats with some cheese before they sail under the broiler for a couple of minutes, then onto your plate and into your belly!
Here's a little peak at my zucchini boat recipe (you can jump to the full recipe here):
- Because I'm a sucker for a homemade sauce to go with my zucchini boats, I begin by preparing my fire-roasted tomato sauce first and then keeping it warm. It's loaded with flavor!
- I opt for healthy, amino-rich quinoa as part of my filling, then combine it with my remaining ingredients, and set those aside.
- Grilling the zucchini halves just until tender creates extra flavor, which is always a good thing; so I get out my grill pan and grill 'em up before stuffing.
- When I'm ready to serve the zucchini boats, I give each a generous spoonful or two of that delicious fire-roasted sauce and a sprinkle of fresh basil.
by Ingrid Beer
Yield: 8 zucchini boats
Nutrition Info: 356 calories (per zucchini boat)
Prep Time: 15 minutes
Cook time: 20 minutes
Total time: 35 minutes
Zucchini Boats Ingredients:
• 1 cup cooked quinoa, warm
• 2 links spicy Italian sausage, cooked
• ½ teaspoon Italian seasoning
• 1 teaspoon flat-leaf parsley, plus 1 tablespoon, chopped, divided use
• 4 large zucchini, halved lengthwise and seeds/center scooped out, leaving a bit of a border on the sides
• Olive oil
• Black pepper
• 2 cups shredded Italian four-cheese blend
• ¼ cup julienned basil leaves
Fire-Roasted Tomato Sauce Ingredients:
• Olive oil
• 2 cloves garlic, pressed through garlic press
• 2 (14.5 ounce) cans fire-roasted and diced tomatoes, with juice
• Pinch or two salt
• Pinch or two pepper
• 1 teaspoon Italian seasoning
- Begin by preparing the fire-roasted tomato sauce, if preparing: add a drizzle of olive oil to a small saucepan and allow it to heat; add in the garlic, and once it becomes aromatic, add in the tomatoes.
- Add in the salt/pepper, plus the Italian seasoning, and stir to combine; allow the sauce to simmer, uncovered, for about 10-15 minutes, to reduce and thicken.
- Serve as is, or use an immersion blender (as I did) to lightly puree the sauce; set aside and keep warm.
- To prepare the zucchini boats: line a baking sheet with foil, and preheat your broiler on low.
- Prepare your filling by adding the cooked quinoa, the cooked sausage, the Italian seasoning and the teaspoon of flat-leaf parsley to a bowl, and toss to combine; add a pinch of salt/pepper, if needed, and set aside.
- Heat a grill pan on medium-high, and drizzle a bit of oil over your prepared zucchini, along with a pinch or two of salt and pepper.
- Once the grill is hot, add in the zucchini, cut-side down, and grill until charred and softened, about 3-4 minutes; turn and grill for another 2 minutes, just until crisp-tender; remove from grill pan and allow to cool just slightly so they can be handled.
- Spoon the filling into the cavity of each grilled zucchini, place onto the prepared baking sheet, and top with a generous amount of cheese; turn the broiler to high, and broil for a moment or two just until the cheese is melted.
- Finish the zucchini boats by spooning over as much of the fire-roasted tomato sauce as you'd like, and sprinkle over the remaining tablespoon of flat-leaf parsley and the julienned basil; serve 2 zucchini boats per person.
Tips & Tidbits for Zucchini Boats:
- Choose larger zucchini: If you can find zucchini that's a bit on the larger side, choose those. They're easier to scoop the center seeds out and create a cavity, and will allow for more filling to be added to your stuffed zucchini.
- Hollowing out the zucchini: To hollow out the zucchini and create the cavity for the filling, simply use a spoon and gently scoop/scrape out the center seeds, leaving a bit of a good border to keep the zucchini intact and the filling in. Discard the seeds.
- Spicy or sweet sausage, or other options: A appreciate a bit of kick in this stuffed zucchini recipe, so I opt for spicy Italian sausage; but if you're cooking for kids or simply prefer to leave the spice out, feel free to use sweet Italian sausage, or even sub ground beef, turkey, or pork.
- Go vegetarian: You can omit the meat from the filling if you'd like to enjoy these as vegetarian zucchini boats, and sub ground soy or tempeh, or even mushrooms or walnuts.
- Homemade fire-roasted sauce, or store-bought: My recipe for the fire-roasted sauce has minimal ingredients and only takes about 10-15 minutes to simmer up, but you can certainly feel free to use a good quality store-bought sauce as a shortcut if you prefer!
- Gooey and cheesy: I love the flavor of an Italian four-cheese blend for these, but you can use whole milk mozzarella, provolone, or even jack cheese.
Hungry for more stuffed veggie recipes? Check out this Stuffed Eggplant, this Stuffed Acorn Squash, these Stuffed Peppers, or these Creamy Chicken and Broccoli Stuffed Potatoes!
Cook's Note: This recipe was originally published in 2014, and has been updated with even more love!
Thalia @ butter and brioche
this looks incredibly delicious, glad i'm not the only zucchini fan around. definitely recreating the recipe for my vegetarian household. thanks for sharing!
This was AMAZING, even though I completely cheated. I grilled the zucchini on my panini press, used a boxed rosemary quinoa pilaf, venison sausage, and tomato sauce from a jar and it was still SO yummy. Can't wait to make it again.
The Cozy Apron
Hi Emily! Cheating or no cheating, you got the point of the finished product, and you enjoyed it! That's all that matters! 🙂 Thanks for sharing.