These Healthy Italian Stuffed Zucchini Boats are full of cheesy Italian sausage or ground turkey, bell peppers, mushrooms, and the best crispy panko topping, and are ready in just 30 minutes!
Who is an honorary Italian out there? Raise your hand if you are! I definitely feel like I’m part Italian, for all the Italian food I make and eat and since I took that trip there with my mom I’ve decided that all you need to do is set foot in Italy and you become part Italian.
In my quest to eat the foods I love while making them a little bit healthier (and checking out this low-carb way of eating everyone’s talking about) I decided to try stuffing some zucchini with Italin sausage, mushrooms, herbs, peppers, mushrooms, some marinara, and of course, cheese.
The result? Scrump-dealy-umptious. For real, I am completely head over heels in love with eating zucchini in this new way. It’s so easy, delicious, and nutritious, my only regret is not having tried this sooner.
DO YOU EAT THE SKIN ON ZUCCHINI BOATS?
Yes, I absolutely eat the skin on my zucchini boats. First of all, I can’t imagine peeling every single zucchini and I definitely think that the skin helps to hold the boat together. Plus, in peeling off the skin, you’re also peeling off some of the nutrients, vitamins, and fiber.
If you do find yourself with a rather large zucchini or an older one and you feel like the skin is too thick or too hard, you can peel it or cut away the bad parts. There’s nothing wrong with peeling the skin or not peeling the skin, for me, I just rinse off the outside of the squash and cut the top off before deseeding and making my boats.
CAN YOU FREEZE ZUCCHINI BOATS?
Guys, can I be honest here? I think frozen (then thawed zucchini) is disgusting and mushy and makes me want to gag when I’ve tried it. That’s not to say you can’t do it. It’s just to say it’s one of those vegetables that doesn’t lend itself to be frozen and thawed, unless you are going to put it in a lasagne or a bread or blend it up or somehow make it so that you don’t really realize you’re eating previously frozen zucchini.
If you do want to freeze it, slice it or dice it first. Then, use the pieces to put in your dishes. It’s much easier this way and I’ve found it’s nearly impossible to freeze then thaw a whole zucchini and try to cut it up and not gag.
There’s my dose of veggie honesty for you for the day.
IS IT OKAY TO EAT ZUCCHINI RAW?
Yes, you can eat zucchini raw, that’s not a problem. It’s an acquired taste I think, but works great when sliced up like carrot sticks in veggie trays or in half-moons as a snack.
You can also make ribbons or spirals out of the zucchini and dress it with your favorite salad dressing and let it soak just a couple of minutes to absorb the dressing’s flavors. This is a great way to make a veggie salad without the lettuce.
HOW LONG DOES ZUCCHINI LAST IN THE FRIDGE?
If I’ve just gone to the farmers market or had a gracious neighbor deliver me some zucchini from her garden, I’ll let it sit on the counter a few days before refrigerating it. It can sit out just like tomatoes, apples, citrus fruits and other fruits and vegetables. But you need to be sure to eat it in a timely manner. Once it starts to wrinkle, you’ll know it’s time to get cooking.
If you’d like your zucchini to last longer or you purchased it already cold at your grocery store, then you can refrigerate it. It will last, unwashed, either loose in the fridge or wrapped loosely in a plastic bag for about 4 to 5 days.
IS ZUCCHINI GOOD FOR THE SKIN?
Here’s another reason to eat your zucchini skin: The squash is great for your skin, so long as you leave the skin of the zucchini on for the additional vitamins and nutrients it provides. Zucchini (and its skin) is a great source of anti-inflammatory compounds and antioxidants. Eating zucchini will nourish your skin and tone down inflammation from the inside out.
Healthy Italian Stuffed Zucchini Boats
- 3-4 medium zucchini
- ½ pound ground Italian sausage - OR ground turkey, see note 1
- 2 teaspoons minced garlic
- 1 red bell pepper, diced
- 4 ounces mushrooms, diced
- 1 cup marinara sauce - I used a garlic and basil marinara
- 1 teaspoon dried herb Italian seasoning
- 1 cup shredded part skim mozzarella cheese
- ½ cup Italian style panko breadcrumbs - or add 1/2 teaspoon Italian seasoning to regular panko
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Cut zucchini in half lengthwise. Use a tablespoon to scoop out seedy center and discard. Arrange side by side, cut side up, on a baking sheet or in a casserole dish.
- In a large skillet over medium-high heat, brown sausage (or turkey) for 4-5 minutes, using a spatula to break into small pieces as it cooks. (See note 1 if using ground turkey)
- Add bell peppers and mushrooms and saute 2-4 minutes until tender.
- Stir in garlic, marinara sauce, and Italian seasoning.
- Spoon mixture into the zucchini boats
- Bake for 15 minutes.
- In a small bowl stir together panko bread crumbs and olive oil.
- Top zucchini boats with mozzarella cheese, then the panko.
- Bake for 5 minutes longer until cheese is melted and panko is golden. Serve immediately.