Stuffed Zucchini Recipe: Delicious, Healthy Summertime Dish

Stuffed Zucchini Recipe: Delicious, Healthy Summertime Dish
Photo by Angele J on Pexels.com

As the warm summer months roll in, gardens and farmer’s markets overflow with an abundance of fresh zucchini. This prolific summer squash is versatile, healthy, and delicious when prepared properly.

One classic way to enjoy zucchini is stuffed – hollowed out and filled with a tasty mixture of meat, vegetables, herbs, and cheese. Stuffed zucchini makes an impressive main dish that is not only flavorful but also a great way to incorporate more vegetables into your diet.

In this guide, we’ll go over a delectable stuffed zucchini recipe along with some tips and variations to make it your own.

The Recipe: Meat and Vegetable Stuffed Zucchini

This stuffed zucchini recipe combines lean ground turkey or beef with an array of diced vegetables, fresh herbs, and melty cheese – all baked inside tender zucchini boats. It’s hearty enough for a main course yet light and nutritious at the same time.

Ingredients

  • 4 medium zucchini
  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 onion, diced
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 lb ground turkey or lean ground beef
  • 1 cup diced bell pepper (any color)
  • 8 oz mushrooms, diced
  • 2 tbsp fresh parsley, chopped
  • 1 tsp dried basil
  • 1 tsp dried oregano
  • 1 cup marinara or pasta sauce
  • 1 cup shredded mozzarella cheese
  • 1/2 cup grated parmesan cheese
  • Salt and pepper to taste

Instructions

1. Preheat the oven to 375°F (190°C). Slice the zucchini in half lengthwise and use a spoon to hollow out the center, leaving about 1/4 inch shell. Place hollowed zucchini halves in a baking dish and set aside.

2. In a skillet, heat the olive oil over medium-high heat. Add the diced onion and garlic and cook for 2 minutes until fragrant.

3. Add the ground turkey or beef and cook until browned and crumbled, about 5-7 minutes.

4. Stir in the bell pepper, mushrooms, parsley, basil, oregano, and a dash of salt and pepper. Cook for 3-4 more minutes.

5. Remove skillet from heat and stir in 1/2 cup of marinara sauce until well combined.

6. Spoon the meat and vegetable mixture into the hollowed zucchini boats, pressing down gently as you fill them. Top each stuffed zucchini with marinara sauce and shredded mozzarella and parmesan cheeses.

7. Cover the baking dish with foil and bake for 35 minutes. Remove foil and bake uncovered for 10 more minutes until cheese is melted and zucchini is fork tender.

8. Let cool slightly before serving. Enjoy!

This recipe makes 8 stuffed zucchini halves, ideal for 4 main course portions. For extra protein, you can even mix in cooked quinoa or brown rice to the filling mixture.

Tips for Perfect Stuffed Zucchini

Prep Tips

  • Choose zucchini that are firm, green, and smooth-skinned without major blemishes.
  • Partially hollow out the zucchini rather than fully scooping out the insides – this helps the zucchini maintain its boat shape while baking.
  • Salt the zucchini shells and let sit for 30 minutes to draw out excess moisture before stuffing.

Baking Tips

  • For extra flavor, try brushing the zucchini boats with olive oil or butter before stuffing them.
  • Avoid overbaking – the zucchini should be just fork tender while still holding its shape.
  • For a crispy cheese topping, switch the oven to broil for 2-3 minutes at the end of baking.

Serving Tips

  • Let the stuffed zucchini rest for 5 minutes before serving to allow the filling to set.
  • Garnish with extra chopped parsley, grated parmesan, or a dollop of pesto or salsa.
  • Serve with a fresh green salad or roasted vegetables on the side.

Tasty Variations

The great thing about stuffed zucchini is how easy it is to customize the filling with your favorite ingredients.

Here are some delicious variations to try:

Mediterranean Stuffed Zucchini: Use ground lamb instead of beef or turkey and fill with a mixture of spinach, sun-dried tomatoes, feta cheese, and pine nuts.

Vegetarian Stuffed Zucchini: Omit the meat and load up the zucchini boats with sauteed vegetables like zucchini, bell peppers, onions, and mushrooms combined with quinoa or rice and topped with melty cheese.

Mexican Stuffed Zucchini: Spice things up by adding cumin, chili powder, jalapeños, and pepper jack cheese to the filling. Top with salsa, guacamole, or pico de gallo.

Italian Stuffed Zucchini: For an Italian twist, fill the zucchini with a mixture of Italian turkey sausage, sauteed spinach, ricotta, and mozzarella or provolone cheese.

Cajun Stuffed Zucchini: Give it some Cajun flair by using andouille sausage, bell peppers, onions, and Cajun seasoning in the filling.

Health Benefits of Stuffed Zucchini

Not only is stuffed zucchini a delicious dish, but it also packs a nutritional punch. Here are some health benefits of incorporating stuffed zucchini into your diet:

Rich in Vitamins and Minerals: Zucchini is a good source of vitamins C and K, as well as minerals like potassium and manganese. These nutrients play a crucial role in supporting overall health and well-being.

High in Fiber: The combination of zucchini and the filling ingredients such as quinoa and black beans provides a good amount of dietary fiber. Fiber is essential for digestive health and helps keep you feeling full and satisfied.

Low in Calories: Stuffed zucchini is a low-calorie dish, making it a great option for those watching their calorie intake. You can enjoy a filling meal without worrying about excessive calories.

Packed with Protein: Thanks to the addition of black beans and quinoa, stuffed zucchini is a protein-rich dish. Protein is essential for muscle repair and growth, as well as overall body function.

Versatile and Customizable: One of the best things about stuffed zucchini is its versatility. You can customize the filling based on your preferences and dietary restrictions. Add different vegetables, herbs, or spices to create unique flavor combinations.

No matter which variation you choose, stuffed zucchini is a wonderfully satisfying way to enjoy this summer vegetable. The flavors meld together beautifully while baking, resulting in a complete and comforting meal.

With endless possibilities for customization, you can make this stuffed zucchini recipe your own using your favorite proteins and vegetables. It’s a healthy, delicious, and impressive dish to serve family and friends all summer long!

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