Stuffed zucchini is loaded with Mediterranean flavors served in a grilled zucchini boat and drizzled with tahini dressing. Savory and healthy, this summer dinner is fresh, easy, and delicious.
With zucchini season upon us, I decided to make stuffed zucchini. Similar to a portobello mushroom, zucchini makes the perfect bowl for an array of fillings. My stuffed zucchini recipe, however, is loaded with Mediterranean flavors and tastes like heaven.
How to Choose Zucchini
Zucchini is extremely low in calories, high in fiber, and had a high water content. As great weight-loss food, zucchini helps reduce inflammation for optimal health.
Although larger zucchinis are generally used to make zucchini bread, smaller ones with the blossoms still attached are the best choice for freshness and juiciness for soups, salads, and other meals. When purchasing zucchini in a store, choose small to medium zucchini with shiny green skin. Holes indicate older, less fresh zucchini.
Even though Zoodles are usually my “go-to” zucchini staple, I wanted to prepare stuffed zucchini with some of my favorite ingredients. Since zucchini is in season, it is a mere .88 cents a pound, which is a reminder to shop for produce in season to save money.
Other Zucchini Recipes
If you love zucchini, try these recipes this summer using zucchini from the garden or your local farmer's market.
- Vegan Zucchini Fries
- Zucchini Stuffed with Veggies and Tofu Ricotta
- Crunchy Baked Zucchini Coins
- Vegan Basil Zucchini Soup
How to Make Zucchini Boats
In order to create a bowl or boat, cut the zucchini lengthwise in half. Then, using a spoon, carefully remove the pulp by using a small spoon. Be careful, though, to avoid digging too deeply into the flesh and breaking through the zucchini.
Because zucchini contains so much water, it is important to line a 9x13 baking dish with a paper towel to allow the zucchini to expel more water before cooking.
Then, place the zucchini into the refrigerator, and after about an hour, turn the zucchini over, opening side down, to allow it to drain a second time for another hour.
In the meantime, it's time to cook the stuffed zucchini filling. Even though any filling can be used to stuff zucchini, I chose my favorite Mediterranean flavors.
- Red Onion: I love red onion because it is sweeter than white or yellow onion.
- Garlic: nothing tastes better than garlic and red onion sauteed together. I recommend using fresh garlic cloves when possible.
- Chickpeas: the chickpeas are the protein and "meatiness" of this stuffing recipe
- Baby bell peppers: I chose slices of baby bell peppers for the array of colors and sweetness
- Snacking tomatoes: I chose to snacking tomatoes because of their small size. I cut them in half, so they could fit inside of the zucchini boats.
- Artichokes: I used artichoke hearts in brine or water (not oil). Make sure to drain and dry before chopping them.
- Kalamata olives: These olives are my favorite when making anything Mediterranean. They have a unique flavor, unlike other olives.
- Capers: The taste of a caper is reminiscent of the lemony tang and brininess of green olives, but with a smack of floral tartness all their own. Because they're packed in brine, capers also boast a bold salty, savory flavor profile
First, saute the onions and the garlic, and then add the remaining ingredients. All the ingredients cook together in one pan in under 10 minutes. Furthermore, I made the filling for the stuffed zucchini in advance to make cooking dinner easier. If you meal prep, this can be made a couple of days ahead of time.
How to Grill Zucchini Boats
Even though the entire cooking process can occur in the oven, I prefer to grill the zucchini before stuffing and baking it. For me, the grill marks, as well as the taste of grilled zucchini, brings out the flavors of the zucchini. Despite my love for grilling, the recipe includes an "all baked" version as well.
- Preheat the grill to medium (400 degrees)
- Grill zucchini on each side for 5 minutes
- Remove the zucchini from the grill and allow to cool to the touch for stuffing
Stuffing and Baking Instructions
Again, make sure the filling, as well as the grilled zucchini boats, are cool before stuffing. Using a spoon, fill the carved-out areas of each zucchini.
Next, bake the stuffed zucchini for 20 minutes until heated through at 350 degrees. If you choose the option to bake and not grill first, increase cooking time by 10 minutes.
How to Serve
Once baked, I decided to drizzle the stuffed zucchini with a tahini dressing! I adore tahini dressing! Additionally, I served my stuffed zucchini with brown rice.
- Tahini: Essentially sesame seed butter, tahini adds a nutty flavor and creamy texture to recipes ranging from savory to sweet
- Fresh lemon juice: I suggest using fresh lemon juice whenever possible, but bottled lemon juice works as well.
- Garlic: garlic and tahini go together like peanut butter and jelly. The garlic gives the tahini a more balanced rich flavor.
- Apple cider vinegar: This is the tang and zest of the dressing.
- Maple syrup: Maple syrup is my go-to ingredient for a healthy sugar substitute.
- Water: The water thins the dressing and makes it smooth and creamy
- Salt: The small amount of salt in this recipe heightens the flavors in the sauce.
Because zucchini boats are so versatile, there are various ways to stuff it raw or cooked. Any of the below fillings well for any occasion.
- Vegan Lentil Tacos
- Veggie Stuffed Shells
- Vegan Chicken Salad
- Chickpea Tuna Salad
- BBQ Jackfruit Recipe
- Jackfruit Tuna Salad
- Tahini Roasted Cauliflower
- Walnut Meat Tacos
- Mushroom & Chorizo Tacos
Elevate the zucchini by placing it on a baking rack, then set that baking rack on top of your regular baking sheet. This allows air to circulate on all sides of the zucchini and helps water evaporate so the zucchini is beautifully caramelized, not soggy. Grilling also provides this same effect.
You put your zucchini in the center of the towel and rotate it a few times in the refrigerator.
There's no need to peel zucchini. In fact, the skin is a big source of zucchini nutrition (the deep green color is a dead giveaway) so you definitely want to leave the skin on.
- Making the filling in advance is a great shortcut for the recipe, and it helps the flavors of the ingredients develop.
- Cut all the vegetables the same size, so they cook at the same rate and fit perfectly into the zucchini boats.
- Use the edge of a small spoon to carefully remove the pulp from the zucchini.
- Save the pulp to add to a smoothie or other recipe, so as not to waste it.
- The zucchini boats can also be grilled ahead of time and then baked later for easier preparation.
- I suggest serving with brown rice, but orzo or another type of pasta tastes fabulous with the tahini sauce as well.
If you are looking for a great way to cook with zucchini this summer, consider stuffed zucchini.
More Vegan Recipe Suggestions
Please consider rating this recipe and leaving a comment below. I'd love to hear from you!
- 3 medium sized zucchinis cut in half lengthwise, pulp removed
- 3 cloves garlic minced
- ½ cup red onions diced
- 1 cup canned chickpeas
- 1 cup chopped canned artichokes
- 4 multi-colors baby bell peppers sliced thin
- 1 cup snacking tomatoes I used multi-colored cut in half
- ¼ cup chopped kalamata olives
- 2 tablespoons capers
- 1 tablespoon Italian seasoning
- ¼ cup tahini
- 3 Tablespoons fresh lemon juice
- 3 cloves garlic
- 1 Tablespoon apple cider vinegar
- 2 teaspoons maple syrup
- ½ cup water
- 1 teaspoon salt
- Slice each zucchini lengthwise
- Using a spoon, remove the pulp from each zucchini, hollowing out the zucchini without breaking through the skin
- Place hollowed out zucchini on paper towels for draining for 1 hour; turn zucchinis over and allow another hour to drain any additional fluids
Making the Filling
- Saute garlic and onions until onions are translucent
- Add remaining ingredients and saute over medium low heat for about 10 minutes, until heated through.
- Set filling aside to cool or cover and place in the refrigerator until ready to serve.
- Combine all ingredients in a high-speed blender until smooth.
- Transfer into a squeeze bottle and refrigerate until ready to use.
- Note: place the tahini in the blender last to avoid issues with it sticking in the bottom of the blender.
- Preheat the grill to medium or 400 degrees
- Grill zucchini for 5 minutes on each side
- Remove grilled zucchini and allow to cool
Stuffing and Baking
- Preheat the oven to 350 degrees
- Using a spoon, fill each zucchini boat with filling
- Bake in the oven for 20 minutes
- Add 10 additional minutes if grilling option is skipped
- Serve drizzled with tahini dressing
- After scrapping the pulp for the center of the zucchini, lay on paper towels to drain in the refrigerator. Then, flip them over for additional time to drain the other side. Switch out paper towel if necessary. You can also use a kitchen towel.
- Make the filling and dressing ahead of time for quicker preparation.
- Choose small to medium sized zucchini for the best flavor. Larger zucchini is not as flavorful. Use larger zucchini for zucchini bread.
- Zucchini boats can be grilled ahead of time, stuffed and cooked at a later time.
- To reheat stuffed zucchini, bake at 350 degrees for 20 minutes. Do not microwave; the stuffed zucchini will get soggy.
- Shake dressing well before using.
- I suggest serving with brown rice, orzo or noodles of choice.
Hi! My name is Kathy, I am a retired high school English teacher & vegan enthusiast and blogger. My entire blog is fully plant-based vegan. I truly believe what we eat & how we live determines our health & the preservation of our planet! 🙂