I recently cooked for several girlfriends on a birthday trip and, as usual, I bought way too much food. One of the items I made was steak & veggie kabobs. They were a hit, but I had several squashes & zucchini that I didn’t even use.
I really like eggplant, squash, & zucchini but they can be tricky. They have a high water content, need to be seasoned just right, & a lot of people don’t like the texture. I normally just slice them & saute with sliced onions, salt & pepper and the family enjoys that. I’ve also been know to stuff an eggplant with a similar mixture.
This time around, I wanted to do something different so I decided to make zucchini boats. They are just so cute & easy – like a baby sister version of a stuffed eggplant. I made a simple vegetarian version (not vegan) that could be served as a side dish or entrée.
Vegetarian Zucchini Boats
This recipe serves 4 as a side, 2 max as an entrée.
- 2 medium to large zucchini
- 1-2 Roma tomatoes, diced or homemade salsa
- 1 clove of garlic, minced (optional if you are using salsa or just don’t love garlic)
- fresh mozzarella
- chopped parsley (flat leaf) or basil for sprinkling on top if you want to get fancy
- Cut the tips off the zucchini & cut in half lengthwise.
- Using a teaspoon, scoop the pulp from inside the zucchini & dice it into small pieces
- Tip: it should scoop out easily, leaving the “shell” very sturdy. If you are having a hard time, you are trying to scoop out too much.
- If you are using tomatoes & garlic, dice them small along with the zucchini pulp. Skip this step if you are using salsa.
- Coat the empty “boat” with olive oil, then season it & the diced pulp (tomato) mixture with salt & pepper.
- Load the zucchini boat with the pulp mixture.
- If you are using salsa, layer it on top of the pulp in the boat.
- Bake at 400° for about 20 minutes.
- While that’s baking, slice up enough fresh mozzarella to top the boats
- Remove the boats from the oven, lay slices of fresh mozzarella on top, & bake until the cheese is melted & bubbly.
As you can see in the last photo, the zucchini boats render a lot of liquid. I bake these on parchment paper over a rack set on top of a baking sheet. When they are done, I cut or poke holes in the parchment paper to let the liquid drain through the rack down to the baking sheet.
Zucchini boats can be served as a main dish or as a side. There are so many variations that you can make them into anything you & your family loves.
Added bonus – kids can have lots of fun making these & they are more likely to eat what they help make! You could lay out all sorts of ingredients & let them create; options include:
- cooked ground meat or sausage
- BACON! Bits in the filling or sprinkled on top. Bacon makes everything better!
- all sorts of veggies, of course
- peppers – jalapeño, bell (red, yellow, orange & green), pepperoncini
- try different types of cheeses
Like making pizza, this is a great opportunity to introduce new things in a fun way. Give it a try, experiment & see how it goes!