Stuffed Zucchini Boats are a wonderfully filling and healthy dish, full of fresh summer flavors, and deliciously hearty for the whole family!
Fresh and savory, Stuffed Zucchini Boats are an easy-to-make dinner full of perfectly seasoned veggies and meat. Hollowed-out zucchini hold vegetables like onions, bell pepper, and tomato as well as Italian sausage and mozzarella cheese for a meal that wins the family over every time.
Hello Love Boat
Zucchini is so versatile and amazing, it’s no wonder you can find it in so many dishes. For this low carb, high protein tasty recipe, zucchini is almost the star, holding a deliciously seasoned Italian sausage mixture and melty cheese, but each bite is so good, it’s hard to say which is the best part! This recipe can easily be adjusted to fit tastes and dietary needs, mild or spicy, vegetarian or vegan, and however you make it, it always turns out amazing.
Other Recipes to Serve with Stuffed Zucchini Boats
- Warm, crusty bread is a really great partner with meals like this, so leave some time to make simple but amazing Dutch Oven Bread.
- If you pick up a little more zucchini and want to make a killer dessert, try out Zucchini Texas Sheet Cake for the perfect end to a perfect meal!
Meat: You will need one pound of ground Italian Sausage. The level of heat you want in this dish is up to you, so you can choose mild or spicy Italian sausage.
Veggies: For the fresh veggies, pick up 6 zucchini, a bell pepper, an onion and garlic. You will also need a can of diced tomatoes.
Cheese: Mozzarella cheese is needed for the topping of the zucchini boats.
Seasoning: Italian seasoning, salt and black pepper are the dried spices you will need, as well as some fresh oregano, if you want to garnish the top of the zucchini boats.
How to Make Stuffed Zucchini Boats
STEP ONE: Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F and lightly grease a 9×13 baking dish. Halve five of the zucchinis and gently scoop out the middle of the zucchinis, creating a U-shape that can be filled. Keep the zucchini centers for later. Place the halved zucchinis, peel side up, in the baking dish, and bake for 20-30 minutes. Chop the one remaining zucchini and scooped-out centers.
STEP TWO: In a large skillet greased with a bit of olive oil, sauté the onions and garlic. Once soft, add the Italian sausage, Italian seasoning, salt and pepper and cook until the meat is browned.
STEP THREE: Add the chopped zucchini, drained tomatoes and bell pepper and cook until the water has evaporated, about 30 minutes.
STEP FOUR: Remove the zucchini from the oven and flip right side up to fill each boat with the sausage filling. Top each boat with mozzarella.
STEP FIVE: Return the pan to the oven to cook for about 15 minutes, or until the cheese is bubbling. Garnish with fresh oregano and serve.
Tips for Success
- Zucchini and tomatoes are very watery so make sure you cook the filling until all of the water has evaporated. Leaving any water in the filling will make the zucchini boats watery.
- These Stuffed Zucchini Boats can be made ahead of time by simply stuffing the boats but stop at that point, and do not add the cheese. Keep the prepared boats covered in the refrigerator until you are ready to top them with the cheese and then cook them in the oven for a few extra minutes to heat everything through.
- There are a few varieties of Italian sausage so pick your favorite brand as well as the level of heat you like! Zucchini is so versatile that it can go perfectly with mild or hot sausage- why not try it both ways? You can also use turkey sausage or even ground beef if that’s what you have on hand.
Is stuffed zucchini healthy?
Zucchini is a wonderfully nutritious vegetable, full of vitamins, minerals and fiber. If you’re looking for a great low carb, high protein meal then stuffed zucchini boats check all the boxes. This meal is filling without using any grains so it’s great for those with gluten sensitivities or who are gluten intolerant.
This meal can also be made vegetarian or vegan by using a meat substitute crumble or quinoa and skipping the cheese or swapping in vegan cheese. There are so many options for this amazing recipe!
Do you eat the skin of zucchini boats?
Clean zucchini skin is thin enough to easily eat, both cooked and uncooked. Much of the zucchini’s nutrition is found in the skin, from minerals to fiber, so it’s a great idea to not skin your zucchini. Occasionally you will find that the skin of larger zucchini may be tough or slightly bitter, but usually the skin of most sizes just tastes like zucchini. Eating zucchini raw, like in zoodle dishes, or cooked, like in this recipe, is filling thanks in part to the zucchini skin.
Even more delicious ways to use zucchini
- Zoodles (Zucchini Noodles)
- Zucchini Lasagna
- Crock Pot Vegetable Soup Recipe
- Creamy Greek Shrimp Pasta
- Double Chocolate Zucchini Bread
- 6 medium zucchini
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- 1 yellow onion peeled & diced
- 3 cloves garlic minced
- 1 pound ground Italian sausage
- 1 tablespoon Italian seasoning
- ½ teaspoon salt
- ¼ teaspoon pepper
- 1 bell pepper seeded & diced
- 28 ounces canned diced tomatoes drained
- 1 cup mozzarella cheese shredded
- Fresh oregano chopped, for garnish
- Preheat your oven to 400 degrees F. Grease the inside of a 9-inch x 13-inch baking dish. Set aside.
- Cut 5 of the zucchini in half lengthwise and then use a spoon to gently hollow out each half to make boats. (see note). Put the hollowed zucchini cut side down into the 9×13 dish and bake for 20-30 minutes, or until tender.
- Chop the insides of the zucchini and the one remaining zucchini into bite-sized pieces. Set aside.
- While the zucchini cooks, prepare the filling by placing a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add the olive oil and once hot, add the onion and garlic. Cook until onion starts to soften, about 2-3 minutes.
- Add the ground sausage, Italian seasoning, salt, and pepper. Cook until the sausage is browned and cooked through.
- Add the bell pepper, chopped zucchini, and diced tomatoes to the skillet. Cook, stirring frequently until the veggies are tender and almost all of the liquid has evaporated, about 30 minutes. (see note)
- Once the zucchini boats are tender, remove them from the oven and carefully flip them over so the cut side is up.
- Use a spoon to add the filling to the zucchini boats. Don't be afraid to pile it up! Top each with mozzarella cheese.
- Return the baking dish to the oven and bake for 15-20 minutes, or until the cheese is bubbly and everything is heated through.
- Remove the zucchini from the oven and sprinkle with chopped fresh oregano if desired. Serve warm.
- Be careful when scooping out the insides of the zucchini!. Be gentle so you don’t break the zucchini boat.
- It is very important to cook the filling until the liquid evaporates. Both the tomatoes and zucchini release a lot of liquid while cooking. If it doesn’t boil away the filling in the finished zucchini boats will be very watery.
- You can make these in advance up through step 8. Cover and chill in the fridge. When you’re ready to eat, top each boat with cheese and bake at 400 degrees F until warmed through, about 30 minutes.