This super easy, healthy Italian stuffed zucchini boats recipe is perfect for all of that summer garden zucchini! Full of cheesy Italian sausage or ground turkey, bell peppers, mushrooms, and the best crispy panko topping, and are ready in just 30 minutes!
For more Italian-inspired recipes like these, try making my Creamy Italian Pasta Spaghetti Salad, my Italian White Bean and Orzo Soup, and my Italian Artichoke Chicken.
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, I decided to try stuffed zucchini with Italian sausage, mushrooms, herbs, peppers, some marinara, and of course, cheese.
The result? Scrump-dealy-umptious. For real, I am completely head over heels in love with eating baked zucchini in this new way. It’s so easy, delicious, and nutritious, my only regret is not having tried this sooner.
Why This Recipe Works
Quick – Brown some sausage and veggies, scoop out some zucchini, layer it all together with sauce and cheese and bake. Done in under 30 min. That’s what’s up!
Ground meat – I like to use Italian sausage, but you can just as easily use ground turkey or chicken with a little extra spice in it to make this healthy zucchini recipe more flavorful.
Simple ingredients – Nothing fancy here. I used jarred marinara and spices I already had in my spice cabinet to make this delicious stuffed zucchini.
Kid-friendly – Do you struggle with how to get your kids to eat their veggies? Turns out, all you have to do is hide the veggie in meat, sauce, and cheese, call it a “boat” and don’t even mention that there’s a vegetable in there. They ate it right up, no questions asked!
Here’s How You Make It
- Turn your oven on to 400 degrees. Cut the zucchini in half lengthwise, then, using a tablespoon, scoop out the centers and discard.
- Arrange the boats side-by-side with the cut side up on a baking sheet or in a casserole dish.
- Now brown the sausage or turkey in a skillet over medium-high heat for 4-5 minutes, breaking it up into smaller pieces as it cooks. Add the diced bell peppers and mushrooms and sauté them with the meat for 2-4 minutes or until they are tender.
- Add the garlic, marinara, and Italian seasoning.
- Take the mixture out by the spoonful and add to the zucchini boats in the opening you carved out. Put these in the oven for 15 minutes to bake.
- While these are baking, stir together the panko breadcrumbs and olive oil. Take the boats out of the oven, top with mozzarella and panko and put back into the oven for another 5 minutes or till the cheese is melted and the breadcrumbs are golden brown.
Does Zucchini Need to be Peeled?
I always eat the skin on my baked zucchini boats, no peeling involved. 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.
How to Freeze Zucchini
Cooked zucchini is not the best vegetable for freezing because it tends to have a lot of water in it and becomes mushy after freezing and reheating. 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 lasagna 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 less mushy once reheated.
Does Zucchini Have To Be Cooked?
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.
- If using ground turkey, add 1 teaspoon dried herb Italian seasoning and 1/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes while browning in the pan.
- The cooked zucchini boats will last in the fridge for up to 5 days.
- Zucchini will last, unwashed, either loose in the fridge or wrapped loosely in a plastic bag for about 4 to 5 days.
More Zucchini Recipes
- Enchilada Stuffed Zucchini Boats
- Lemon Poppy Seed Zucchini Bread
- Zucchini Cookies with Brown Butter Frosting
- Zucchini Bread Muffins
Did you make these ultra-tasty zucchini boats? YAY! Please rate the recipe below!
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.
I added chopped fresh spinach. Great recipe.