Tender zucchini boats are generously filled with a savory mixture of lean ground beef, onions, and aromatic spices, then topped with a gooey blend of Parmesan and mozzarella cheese and baked to perfection in this easy Stuffed Zucchini Boats recipe!
Zucchini boats are essentially hollowed-out zucchinis that serve as the perfect vessel for a flavorful filling. By scooping out the flesh of the zucchini and stuffing it with a savory mixture, you create a unique and visually appealing dish that is as tasty as it is visually appealing!
Not only are Stuffed Zucchini Boats a delicious treat, but they also provide an excellent opportunity to utilize those abundant zucchinis that grow in our gardens during the summer months. It's a fantastic way to make the most of the seasonal produce to prevent any from going to waste. Plus, zucchini is incredibly versatile and adds a delightful freshness to any dish!
This recipe makes zucchini boats with ground beef. The lean ground beef, onions, and aromatic spices create a filling that perfectly complements the mild sweetness of the zucchini. The addition of marinara sauce, garlic, and Italian seasoning gives it an Italian touch, while the combination of Parmesan and mozzarella cheese adds a gooey and irresistible finish.
They're a fantastic way to showcase the flavors of summer with a full and satisfying meal that's easy to make and even easier to enjoy! If you are looking for more great summer recipes, I would check out our Easy Fruit Pizza or Strawberry and Blueberry Pound Cake Trifle.
Why You’ll Love This Recipe
- A great way to use the abundance of summer zucchini from your garden, grocery store, or at farmers markets.
- This healthy recipe is a guilt-free option that fits perfectly into a healthy eating lifestyle.
- Stuffed zucchini boats with ground beef use simple and inexpensive ingredients you can find at any grocery store.
- The combination of the rich marinara sauce, the warmth of the garlic and Italian seasoning, and the creamy, melted blend of Parmesan and mozzarella cheese create a delicious Italian flair everyone will enjoy!
Ingredients You’ll Need
- Zucchini - Serves as the base for the stuffed boats providing a mild, slightly sweet flavor and a tender texture.
- Olive Oil - Used to sauté the lean ground beef and onions, olive oil adds a rich and smooth taste.
- Lean Ground Beef - Brings a savory and hearty flavor to the dish along with a rich beefy flavor.
- Yellow Onion & Minced Garlic - These aromatic ingredients work together to infuse the dish with a sweet and slightly pungent taste.
- Marinara Sauce - Acts as the flavor base for the filling, adding a rich and tangy tomato taste.
- Seasonings - Black pepper brings a subtle heat and enhances the savory notes, while Italian seasoning offers a delightful blend of herbs.
- Worcestershire Sauce - Contributes a salty, umami flavor that brings out the natural flavors of ground beef.
- Cheese - The combination of shredded Parmesan and mozzarella cheese provides a creamy and melty topping for the stuffed zucchini boats.
How To Make Stuffed Zucchini Boats with Ground Beef
Prepare for baking: Preheat oven to 400℉ and prepare a 9x13 baking dish by coating it with a non-stick spray. Set aside.
Brown the ground beef: Add olive, ground beef, and onion in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Cook until brown and no pink remains. Drain off excess grease.
Add seasonings: Lower heat to medium-low, and add marinara sauce, garlic, black pepper, Italian seasoning, and Worcestershire sauce. Stir until well combined and simmer for 10 minutes. Stir occasionally.
Prep the zucchini: Wash the zucchini under cold water. Cut the ends off of the zucchini and cut in half lengthwise. Using a spoon, scoop out the flesh part of the zucchini and discard.
Assemble stuffed zucchini: Mix Parmesan and mozzarella cheese in a small bowl and set aside. Place zucchini in the prepared baking dish and scoop the meat mixture into the zucchini shells. Top with cheese mixture.
Bake and serve: Add to the oven and bake for 25 minutes, or until zucchini is soft and cheese is melted. Remove with tongs and serve while hot. Enjoy!
- When selecting zucchini, look for medium-sized ones that are firm and have smooth skin. Avoid zucchinis that are overly large or have soft spots, as they may be watery and less flavorful.
- To make scooping out the flesh of the zucchini easier, use a small spoon or a melon baller. Gently scrape along the center of each halved zucchini, removing the seeds and creating a hollow space for the filling. Be careful not to scoop too much, leaving enough flesh to maintain the structure of the boats.
- To prevent the zucchini boats from becoming too watery during baking, sprinkle a pinch of salt over the hollowed-out zucchini halves and let them sit for about 10 minutes. This process will draw out excess moisture. Afterward, pat them dry with a paper towel before filling them.
- For a golden and slightly crispy topping, broil the stuffed zucchini boats for the last 2-3 minutes of baking. Keep a close eye on them to prevent burning, as the cheese can melt and brown quickly under the broiler.
- For a meatless version, substitute the lean ground beef with cooked quinoa or lentils. Sauté them with onions, garlic, and your favorite vegetables like bell peppers or mushrooms for a delicious vegetarian filling that is packed with protein and fiber.
- Give your stuffed zucchini boats a Mediterranean twist by adding chopped Kalamata olives, crumbled feta cheese, and a sprinkle of dried oregano to the filling.
- Spice things up by incorporating Tex-Mex flavors into the filling. Swap the Italian seasoning for a blend of cumin, chili powder, and paprika. Add a can of diced tomatoes with green chilies, and top the stuffed boats with shredded cheddar cheese. Serve with a dollop of sour cream and a sprinkle of chopped cilantro for a zesty and satisfying twist.
Once cooled, stuffed zucchini boats can be stored in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 3 days. Simply cover the baking dish tightly with plastic wrap or transfer the stuffed boats to a sealable container. When ready to enjoy, reheat in the oven at 350°F (175°C) until warmed through.
Freezing is not recommended, as the zucchini will become soggy after thawing.
You can substitute ground beef with ground turkey, chicken, or even pork. Just ensure the meat is cooked thoroughly and seasoned to your liking.
You can prepare the stuffed zucchini boats in advance, cover them tightly, and store them in the refrigerator until you're ready to bake for up to 24 hours.
While Parmesan and mozzarella cheese work beautifully in this recipe, you can experiment with other types of cheese as well. Cheddar, Swiss, or even crumbled goat cheese or feta.
Chopped bell peppers, mushrooms, spinach, or even diced tomatoes can be wonderful additions, adding more nutrients and flavors to the dish.
More Easy Dinner Recipes Using Ground Meat
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Stuffed Zucchini Boats
- Preheat oven to 400℉ and prepare a 9x13 baking dish by coating it with a non-stick spray. Set aside.
- Add olive, ground beef, and onion in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Cook until brown and no pink remains. Drain off excess grease.
- Lower heat to medium-low, add marinara sauce, garlic, black pepper, Italian seasoning, and Worcestershire sauce. Stir until well combined and simmer for 10 minutes. Stir occasionally.
- Cut the ends off of the zucchini and cut in half lengthwise. Using a spoon, scoop out the flesh part of the zucchini and discard.
- Mix Parmesan and mozzarella cheese in a small bowl and set aside.
- Place zucchini in the prepared baking dish and scoop the meat mixture into the zucchini shells. Top with cheese mixture.
- Bake for 25 minutes, or until zucchini is soft and cheese is melted.
*All nutrition information provided is automatically calculated and is an estimate and will vary based on ingredients, brands, and changes in cooking methods listed in the recipe. If you need exact numbers on your ingredients, I would recommend calculating them with your prefered nutrition calculator.