Wondering what to do with zucchini? Make these easy stuffed zucchini boats loaded with sausage, peppers, onions and cheese. Simply flavored for a quick dinner!
When I’m craving something a little bit different, we do stuffed zucchini boats. What are they? Hollowed out zucchini stuffed with a meat and vegetable mixture and topped with cheese. It’s a great low carb dinner recipe that is adaptable for items you have on hand and what your family prefers.
This easy dinner idea is on the table in about 45 minutes. You’ll love that our zucchini boats use sausage (hot or mild) which really give the flavor a pop. After all, zucchini is bland and no one wants that describing their dinner. Sausage easily solves that problem!
Be sure to read below for hints on freezing the stuffed zucchini for future dinners too!
What size zucchini do I use for zucchini boats?
This recipe is meant for 3 medium sized (about 9” in length) zucchini. Depending on how many people you need to feed, you may choose to use smaller zucchini (about 6” in length) where you can get sometimes double the amount of zucchini in the recipe and where you can stretch out the meat mixture.
Because zucchinis vary in size, you may need to spread out the meat mixture and put less inside each zucchini. Larger zucchinis will take much longer to cook and will require more filling. You may end up producing less zucchini boats due to the larger zucchini.
How to Prevent Watery Zucchini
Depending on the zucchini that you use, the zucchini may release quite a bit of water. There are a couple of methods that I use to help with the wateriness, especially after it has been baked:
- Make sure that all the seeds are taken out. The seeds contain the majority of the water, so make sure that they are all scraped out and pat the zucchini dry before filling it with meat mixture.
- To further prevent a watery zucchini, you may want to bake the assembled zucchini on a rack so that the water can simply drain off during the baking process.
- Make sure that the meat mixture has been completely drained of grease. Pork sausage can give off more grease than a lean ground beef, so make sure that it is patted dry before adding the pasta sauce to it.
How to Make Zucchini Boats
- Prepare oven. Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit.
- Prepare zucchini. Cut zucchini in half lengthwise. Microwave zucchini for 2-3 minutes to soften slightly. When cool enough to handle, use a spoon to scoop out zucchini pulp (See under the recipe for what to do with all that pulp!). Place zucchini skin side down in a casserole dish and set aside.
- Make filling. In a skillet pan over medium high heat, brown sausage, onion, and bell pepper until meat is no longer pink in the middle. Take off heat and drain grease. Stir in sauce, salt and pepper.
- Assemble. Spoon mixture into zucchini boats until all the zucchini are filled.
- Bake. Sprinkle with cheese and bake for 20-25 minutes or until zucchini is fork tender.
What do I eat with zucchini boats?
Zucchini boats are great for dinner and you can make a complete meal out of it. I prefer to eat my zucchini boat over a bed of pasta or rice.
Even though the zucchini is a vegetable, you can also choose a simple side salad to eat alongside it, or even cook up another vegetable such as broccoli or asparagus. It also tastes great when eaten with some fresh garlic bread. You can also choose to eat it by itself for a low carb option.
How long do zucchini boats keep?
You can store zucchini boats in the refrigerator for 3-4 days. Make sure they are in an airtight container before storing.
Can you freeze stuffed zucchini?
Stuffed zucchini boats also freeze well. You can freeze them completely assembled for up to 3 months. Here’s how to do it:
- Place the zucchini part of the boats in about an inch of water for 20 minutes when you take them out of the freezer.
- Take them out of the water and bake them in a casserole dish at 350 degrees F for about 20 minutes or until heated through.
- You may need to bake them longer that what is originally called for in this recipe since they will still be very cold.
Stuffed Zucchini Boats Recipe
- 3 medium sized zucchinis
- 1 pound pork sausage (I prefer hot Italian sausage, but you can use the mild if you don’t like any kind of spice.)
- 1 cup yellow onion (diced)
- 1 cup red or yellow bell pepper (diced)
- ¾ cup marinara sauce (or spaghetti sauce)
- 1/4 teaspoon salt (plus more to taste)
- 1/4 teaspoon pepper (plus more to taste)
- ½ cup Colby jack cheese (shredded)
- garnish with parsley or fresh basil (optional)
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit.
- Cut zucchini in half lengthwise.
- Microwave zucchini for 2-3 minutes to soften slightly.
- When cool enough to handle, use a spoon to scoop out zucchini pulp.
- Place zucchini skin side down in a casserole dish and set aside.
- In a skillet pan over medium high heat, brown sausage, onion, and bell pepper until meat is no longer pink in the middle.
- Take off heat and drain grease.
- Stir in sauce, salt and pepper.
- Spoon mixture into zucchini boats until all the zucchini are filled.
- Sprinkle with cheese and bake for 20-25 minutes or until zucchini is fork tender.
- Garnish with parsley if desired.
What do I do with the zucchini pulp?
Instead of simply discarding your zucchini pulp, you can repurpose it in different ways in your cooking. Here are some examples of what else it can be used for:
- Chop it up and add it to your meat mixture. Make sure to pat it dry before adding it into the meat mixture to help with a watery zucchini. This is especially great when you are using zucchini that are on the larger side and may not have enough meat to fit in all of them. Plus, this counts as a “hidden vegetable”!
- You can save it for soups or fresh salads. Just chop it up and add it in.
- Add it to a baked good such as muffins or bread. The zucchini will add moisture to your next baked good. The best part? You won’t be able to see or taste it because it is the pulp of the zucchini and it doesn’t have any of that green skin.
- If nothing else, it can always be used for compost if you have a compost pile.