This is a versatile recipe and it will most certainly make the “veggie-haters” eat zucchini. For this particular recipe, I used ground beef with Italian flavors. You could use taco spices for a Mexican spin and you can change up the protein with ground chicken or turkey. You can also make this a 100% vegetarian meal by using beans, corn, quinoa, and peppers as a filling. I have also heard a friend use crabmeat as a filling, which I have to try next. However you choose to make this, it is a fool-proof way to jazz up zucchini!
2 large medium-sized zucchini
1 medium onion, chopped
1.5 cups of ground beef
1/2 tsp of minced garlic
1/4 tsp of Calabrian chili paste
1 tsp of Italian seasoning
1 tsp of tomato paste
1/2 cup of tomato basil sauce
1 Tbsp of fresh parsley, chopped
1 Tbsp of olive oil, plus additional oil to brush on zucchini
Shredded mozzarella cheese for melting on top, as much as you like
salt and pepper for seasoning.
Slice zucchini down the middle, length-wise. Using a melon baller or a spoon, scoop out the inside of the zucchini, making a hollow “boat”. Season with a little bit of salt and let the zucchini rest for 30 minutes to an hour. This will pull out some of the excess liquid in the zucchini and also season the flesh.
Preheat oven to 375F. While that happens, move on to making the filling.
Heat oil in a skillet and add the ground beef. Saute till it starts to brown. Then add all the remaining spices except for the tomato basil sauce and parsley.
Cook all the ingredients, till the beef is dark brown, and all the spices have bloomed and are married together.
Finally, add the sauce and parsley and cook for an additional 7-9 minutes. At this point, you can store the filling in the fridge for later use or you can proceed to the next step.
Using a paper towel, blot the excess moisture off the Zucchini and arrange them, cut-side up, on a greased baking pan. Sprinkle the cavity with some black pepper and bake the zucchini for 10 minutes.
Pull out the zucchini and fill then with beef mixture. You will note in the picture that two of the “boats” have more filling than the other two, personal preference really, I like more vegetable and my husband prefers more beef. He also likes more cheese as you will see in the following pictures.
Baked the filled zucchini for another 10 minutes.
Top the boats with cheese (as much as you like) and bake for another 8-10 minutes, or until the cheese is melty and bubbly! Turn the broiler on at the end if you want to brown the top of the cheese.
Serve piping hot!