Italian Stuffed Zucchini Boats
Those who know me know that I love to eat carbs and drink wine. I think it’s a staple for being a mom.., right? However, with summer coming and thoughts of swimsuits, tanktops and shorts, that love has to take a backseat. So begins my continual search to find foods that atill provide comfort like pasta, without the lasting impact on the waistline! That’s when a friend shared with me a great recipe from Valerie’s Kitchen.
This low-carb, Italian-inspired dish checks off the boxes in what I’m looking for. Lean ground turkey, fresh veggies, and is topped with cheese and toasted bread crumbs (which you can also leave off if you want it healthier). If your saying, hey there’s cheese, that’s not the healthiest. Use part-skim mozzarella and don’t go crazy with the amounts. More flavor and less guilt.
This dish leaves you feeling full and satisfied and it isn’t even pasta! This is a great dish full of nutrition… now if I could only get my kids to eat zucchini!
Below is Valerie’s recipe, and she also has a great video on her site for this recipe too (see below).
- 3 medium, uniformly-sized zucchini
- 1 (24 to 26 ounce) jar tomato basil marinara, divided
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- 1 pound lean ground turkey or beef
- 1/3 cup chopped onion
- 1 teaspoon minced garlic
- 1/3 cup chopped red bell pepper
- 1/2 cup chopped brown button mushrooms
- 1/4 cup chopped fresh Italian parsley
- 1 teaspoon Italian seasoning
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- Fresh ground black pepper, to taste
- 1/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper, or to taste
- 1-1/2 cups shredded mozzarella cheese (I used part-skim)
- 1/4 cup shaved or shredded Parmesan
- 2 tablespoons Italian style panko bread crumbs
Preheat oven to 375 degrees F. Measure out 1 cup of the marinara sauce and set aside.
Trim ends from zucchini and slice in half, lengthwise. Use the tip of a spoon to scrape out the zucchini flesh (see recipe note), chop it and set it aside. Place the scooped out zucchini boats into a 13″ x 9″ baking dish and add about 1″ of water. Cover with foil and bake in preheated oven for 20 minutes, until just slightly fork-tender. Remove from oven, and set aside to cool slightly.
Meanwhile, add olive oil to a 12″ skillet and place over MEDIUM heat. Add turkey (or beef), onion, bell pepper, and garlic to the skillet. Cook, stirring to break up the ground meat as it cooks. Continue to cook and stir until meat is thoroughly cooked and veggies have softened. Drain off as much grease as possible and return the skillet to the heat.
Add the chopped zucchini flesh, mushrooms, remaining marinara in jar (reserve 1 cup for later), parsley, Italian seasoning, salt, fresh ground black pepper, and crushed red pepper. Stir well to combine. Bring to a simmer, then reduce heat and allow to simmer over low heat for about 15 minutes.
Remove partially cooked zucchini from baking dish and pour off water. Pour the 1 cup of reserved marinara sauce into the empty baking dish and place zucchini boats on top of the sauce.
Divide the filling between the zucchini boats. If you have extra filling, spoon it into the dish around the zucchini boats. Cover the dish with foil, and bake for 20 minutes, or until zucchini is fork tender. Remove dish from oven and set oven to BROIL.
Remove foil and sprinkle zucchini boats with mozzarella, Parmesan and the panko bread crumbs. Place dish in oven, watching closely, and cook for just a couple of minutes until cheese has melted and bread crumbs are golden brown.
Her tip for scraping out zucchini flesh is to use a sharp knife to lightly score the zucchini to outline the area you want to scoop out, Be careful not to cut through. You just want an outline. Use the tip of a spoon to scrape the flesh out and on to a cutting board.