- Baking Sheet
- 6 small-medium zucchini
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- 1 onion finely diced
- 1 pound ground beef OR ground beef and pork
- 2 tablespoons tomato paste
- 1 teaspoon dried oregano
- ½ teaspoon garlic powder OR 2 cloves freshly minced
- ½ teaspoon salt or more to taste
- pepper to taste
- 1 (15oz) can tomato sauce
- 1.5 cups shredded cheese I used mozzarella; cheddar or Gouda work, too
- Prep zucchini:Wash zucchini well, then slice in half lengthwise. Scoop out flesh with a small spoon and set aside. Place zucchini halves on baking sheet.
- Brown beef and season:Heat olive oil in large skillet over medium-high heat. Add onion and cook until softened, then add ground beef and cook until well browned. Stir in tomato paste, oregano, garlic powder, salt and pepper.
- Finish filling:Stir in tomato sauce and scooped out zucchini flesh (chop if desired for more even filling), then simmer, covered, on low heat for 10 minutes. Remove the lid, stir well and simmer for another 5 minutes.
- Fill and bake:Heat oven to 360°F. Spoon filling in prepared zucchini halves. Sprinkle with cheese and bake 20-25 minutes until bubbly.
- make sure to brown the beef well; more color = more flavor! No need to drain if using lean ground beef, but feel free to drain if using a fattier meat.
- if filling seems dry, stir in a few tablespoons of wate or beef broth. But careful – it needs to be quite thick for filling the zucchini, so don’t add too much liquid.
- if filling seems too watery, simmer for longer without a lid on (depends a lot on thickness of tomato sauce used)
- ground meat: can use any ground meat in place of the beef – pork, a mix of beef and pork or ground turkey
- zucchini: if you have a giant zucchini from the garden vs smaller ones, slice into thick rounds, scoop out (make sure to leave a substantial bottom!) and fill that way.
- seasoning: feel free to switch up the seasoning to taste – Italian seasoning, ground paprika, taco seasoning… All wonderful!
- cheese: for a lighter version, skip the cheese and only sprinkle lightly with grated parmesan.
LeftoversStore leftovers in the fridge, well covered, for up to 2 days. Reheat in the oven until piping hot all the way through.
To be honest, I usually get my load of garden zucchini from my neighbor – I have yet to successfully grow them myself (you can see a giant summer squash I once got from her in this recipe)! But no matter who grows my zucchini, one of my favorite ways to use them up are these zucchini boats.
The filling is super easy to make and the kids L-O-V-E them. My mom used to make a version with rice and ricotta growing up and I refused to eat those 🙈 so I’m very happy we found a version everybody enjoys!