Zucchini boats make the perfect vegetable vessel for ground turkey sausage, kalamata olives, sun dried tomatoes, pine nuts, basil, and Parmesan cheese for a Mediterranean spin on everyone’s favorite stuffed zucchini recipe.
If David Letterman brought back his famous Top 10 List and focused on FoodieCrush reader requests, “More Mediterranean recipes please!” would likely be in the top 3. Because you know…Dave and I…we’re tight like that and so naturally, he’d do it for me, for US! But since he’s gone off to become a long-bearded hermit (come back Dave! we miss you!), and you guys keep asking for more healthy eats, I’m game to take the reigns.
Unlike many stuffed zucchini boats recipes whose main intention is to hide the vegetarian vehicle they’re meant to highlight, I’ve skipped the heaps of heavy melted cheese and sloppy sauces that can weigh a healthy stuffed zucchini recipe down.
Instead, this recipe’s tender zucchini bite folds itself around a light and flavorful ground turkey filling studded with my favorite Mediterranean ingredients. Kalamata olives, sun dried tomatoes, pine nuts, Parmesan cheese and basil all have a part in this easy way to use up the seasons freshest elongated squash.
What’s In Mediterranean Stuffed Zucchini Boats
There are simply too many ways to stuff a zucchini is something nobody said, ever never. The beauty of this bountiful fruit is its versatility and adaptability, where mixing and matching ingredients to stuff your boat can be creative and fun.
Here’s what’s in this zucchini boat recipe:
- Zucchini, medium to large-ish
- Ground turkey sausage
- Yellow onion
- Ground oregano
- Fresh bread crumbs
- Kalamata olives
- Sun dried tomatoes
- Fresh basil
- Pine nuts
- Parmesan cheese
How to Scoop Out Zucchini
Before stuffing your boat, you gotta make room for the goods by scooping the pulp and seeds out of the zucchinis.
- Choose medium size zucchini that are firm, unblemished, and ripe. An over ripe zucchini will be floppy and harder to get a clean pulped scoop. Overgrown or extra large zucchini will have a tough skin that tastes bitter, so aim for a medium to large-ish zucchini that has a soft skin.
- Leave the skin on the zucchini. It gives the stuffed vegetable structure and yes, it you should eat the zucchini skin. Like mom says, it’s good for you!
- Cut the zucchini in half from stem to stem, lengthwise. I use a sharp butcher knife to do this in one fell swoop.
- Use a small spoon to scoop the flesh and seeds from the zucchini. Save the pulp and seeds, chop it, and use it in the stuffing. There’s vitamins in there!
How to Make Stuffed Zucchini Boats
There are only two components to zucchini boats: the zucchini and the stuffing. Here’s how to meld the two to make one delicious meal.
Prep the zucchini. See above. Done and done.
Make the stuffing, starting with the ground turkey sauté. Nobody wants to eat raw poultry, so cooking the turkey with the aromatics before stuffing is a must. Brown the turkey then add the onion, garlic, and reserved zucchini pulp with the seasonings and cook until the onion softens.
Add the egg and bread crumb binder. To make this a delicious, homogenous creation, adding a whisked egg to the stuffing mixture gently holds everything together as it bakes and fresh bread crumbs and grated Parmesan cheese fills in the gaps. Allow the hot sauté to cool before adding the binder so the egg doesn’t cook and clump. To make fresh bread crumbs, buzz a few pieces of white or french bread in the food processor.
Add a Mediterranean ingredient spin. Sliced kalamata olives (look for those that have their pits removed), chopped sun dried tomatoes (I like them best when plump and juicy in oil), dried oregano, finely grated Parmesan cheese, and slivered fresh basil add the classic Mediterranean flavors you’re asking for. For a buttery, nut crunch, pine nuts finish the profile just right.
Stuff the Boats But Don’t Pack It In
Densely packing these zucchini with the stuffing like an extra large load of laundry in a small washing machine results in a lackluster log loaf stuck in a zucchini. For a more delicious bite, lightly but firmly pack the stuffing in the zucchini, gently mounding it then topping with more Parmesan cheese before baking.
How Long to Cook Zucchini Boats
Because the stuffing has already been cooked, baking the zucchini boats is all about cooking the zucchini until it’s tender, and creating a lightly crisp crust on top. Cook the zucchini boats covered with foil for the first 30 minutes, then uncover and bake for an additional 10-15 minutes.
Depending on your taste or what you have in the fridge, this recipe is always ready for ingredient swaps.
- Use plain ground turkey, ground beef, or pork sausage instead of turkey sausage
- Try roasted red bell peppers instead of sun dried tomatoes
- Briny green or dried black olives sub in well for kalamata olives
- Sub chopped fresh parsley or marjoram for the basil
- Switch out the Parmesan cheese for feta or goat cheese
- Instead of bread crumbs, use cooked rice, quinoa or nutty farro
What to Serve With Stuffed Zucchini
- Citrus Fennel and Avocado Salad
- Easy Lemon Rice
- Killer Garlic Knots
- Arugula Salad With Shaved Parmesan Three Ways
- Avocado and Tomato Salad
- Caesar Salad with Garlic Croutons
If you make this recipe, please let me know! Leave a star rating on this recipe below and leave a comment, take a photo and tag me on Instagram with #foodiecrusheats.
Mediterranean Zucchini Boats
- 3 medium zucchini
- 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
- 1 pound ground turkey sausage
- 2 tablespoons dried oregano
- 1 teaspoon kosher salt
- ½ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
- ½ cup chopped yellow onion
- 4 garlic cloves , pressed or minced
- 1 egg , lightly beaten
- 1 cup bread crumbs , divided
- ½ cup pitted kalamata olives , halved
- ½ cup sun dried tomatoes in oil , drained and chopped
- ½ cup chopped fresh basil , divided
- ¼ cup pine nuts
- ¼ cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese
- Preheat the oven to 375°F.
- From stem to stem, slice the zucchini in half lengthwise. Scoop out the pulp, chop, and set aside.
- In a large skillet, heat the oil over medium-high heat. Add the ground turkey sausage and cook for 5 minutes, stirring and breaking it up into smaller pieces. Add the onion and garlic and season with the oregano, kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper. Add the reserved chopped zucchini pulp and cook until the onion softens and the turkey is no longer pink.
- Remove the pan from the heat and stir in the whisked egg, bread crumbs, olives, sun dried tomatoes, ¾ of the basil, pine nuts, and half of the Parmesan cheese. Toss and mix well.
- Spoon the stuffing into the zucchini boats and place in a 9 X 12 baking dish or baking sheet. Sprinkle with the remaining Parmesan cheese. Cover tightly with foil and bake for 30 minutes. Uncover and bake for 10-15 more minutes or until the zucchini are fork tender. Serve hot topped with the remaining basil and more Parmesan cheese if desired.
More Stuffed Recipes
- The BEST Stuffed Bell Peppers Recipe With Ground Beef
- Stuffed Zucchini Hasselback Pepperoni Pizza Style
- Sausage Stuffed Mushrooms With Hollandaise
- Stuffed Pork Chops
- Stuffed Chicken Thighs With Spinach And Goat Cheese
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I made this as a vegetarian dish, using portobello muchrooms in place of the ground turkey.
Love that idea Laura!!
Cooked for 2 and it came out awesome! Thank you for this great recipe.
So glad you liked them Laura!
great dish, nice balance, healthy ingredients and even looks good, thank you!