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This low-carb, Italian-inspired dish has so much going for it! The filling for these Italian Stuffed Zucchini Boats has lean ground turkey and fresh veggies, all topped with melted cheese and toasted bread crumbs. Less guilt but tons of flavor.
These Italian Stuffed Zucchini Boats have changed my feelings when it comes to Italian food. And, I have some pretty serious feelings on the subject. That’s kind of a big deal, isn’t it?
When I crave Italian I immediately think of rigatoni, spaghetti, penne, or how about ravioli in a tomato cream sauce sprinkled with plenty of fresh basil and shaved Parmesan. I mean, come on!
I never thought I could get the same level of serious contentment and satisfaction with a dish that doesn’t involve pasta.
That changed when I tried stuffing zucchini with a delicious mixture of lean ground turkey, onion, garlic, red bell pepper, cremini mushrooms, all simmered with a simple jarred marinara. Okay, so there is cheese on top, but I went with part-skim mozzarella and just enough Parmesan to add a sharp, salty bite.
Loaded with nutrition and all in all, pretty darn good for ya!
Be sure to watch the quick how-to video in the recipe card below for my tips on how to cleanly and easily scoop the zucchini and prepare the filling.
Another great aspect of this tasty stuffed zucchini – there’s really no need to prepare a separate veggie side dish. By all means, you can, but this dish is a vegetable and entrée all in one. Add a simple side like rice and a glass of big, bold red wine and I’m a happy girl.
If you like these, you’re going to love my Taco Stuffed Zucchini Boats!
Italian Stuffed Zucchini Boats
- 3 medium uniformly-sized zucchini
- 24 to 26 ounce jar tomato basil marinara divided
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- 1 pound lean ground turkey or beef
- ⅓ cup diced onion
- 1 teaspoon minced garlic
- ⅓ cup chopped red bell pepper
- ½ cup chopped brown button (cremini) mushrooms
- ¼ cup chopped fresh Italian parsley
- 1 teaspoon Italian seasoning
- ½ teaspoon salt
- freshly ground black pepper to taste
- ¼ teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes or to taste
- 1 ½ cups shredded part-skim mozzarella cheese
- ¼ 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-inch baking dish and add about 1-inch 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-inch 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.