Stuffed zucchini is one of my favorite go-to dishes to help my husband and I stay on a healthy track, or even get back on track after the holidays. This savory satisfying recipe is extremely versatile in that you can use ground beef, ground turkey, or even ground chicken. The combination of your favorite protein combined with vegetables, cheese, and tomato sauce goes great all by itself, or with a big piece of crusty Italian bread. Here’s “How to Make Stuffed Zucchini” Redhead’s way…
Choosing & Storing the Zucchini
There’s no doubt about it that in the Midwest & Northeast you can usually find huge zucchini in late summer, or fall at the farmer’s market, or even on the side of the road (which I most prefer because you just know they are so fresh). We actually have had a friendly neighbor surprise us with fresh zucchini from his garden in our mailbox 🤩. Luckily though, you really can get some good ones any time of year. The secret to locating the best zucchini squash is really just to keep your eye out, and when you see them, grab 2,3,4 depending on their size. I look for healthy skin, no wrinkles, and no bruises. A few “nicks” in the skin is expected because they are fragile, so don’t let those nicks deter you from grabbing a healthy zucchini. In my opinion, and from lots of experience, wrapping the precious zucchini in wax paper individually, and putting them in the crisper drawer in your fridge is the best way to keep those babies happy. If you don’t have wax paper, a paper towel will work, too.
Homemade or Store Bought Tomato Sauce for Stuffed Zucchini
When it comes to the tomato sauce for the stuffed zucchini…of course I love using my husband’s homemade sauce, but of course that is not necessary because we are all running short on time, and energy. The good news is, I found a great jarred sauce and the name is Rao’s Marinara. Rao’s (you can find it everywhere these days) has become my go-to sauce for my yummy lasagna recipe , too. I used 1 full jar for this stuffed zucchini recipe and didn’t have to add a thing to it before hand. In all honesty, Rick and I both like to sample Rao’s sauce with a spoon right out of the jar (and I’m not being paid to say that 😆).
Preparing Your Stuffed Zucchini for the Oven
When preparing the stuffed zucchini for the oven, I’ve tried recipes before where they pre-cook the zucchini, but I find that step completely unnecessary. Zucchini has a very nutty flavor and comes out best when it is not over cooked. I’ve also seen where folks rub the zucchini with olive oil, salt & pepper before hand. I actually like it best that way, but to conserve on calories this time I didn’t do any of that, and they still turned out AMAZING.
While I was typing out this recipe my husband happened to glance over, and said, “Oh, now I want your stuffed zucchini again!!” I was actually thinking the same thing. This truly is such a yummy recipe, and I so hope you give it a try!
Redhead’s Stuffed Zucchini Recipe
- 2 large whole zucchini (12 inches long) (use more if they are small)
- 1 pound of ground chicken, beef, or turkey (I used chicken)
- 2 tablespoons fresh minced garlic
- 1/2 cup diced onion
- 1 large cubanelle or bell pepper diced (both are sweet not hot)
- 8-10 fresh mushrooms diced
- 1 teaspoon oregano
- 1 teaspoon Basil
- 1 tablespoon Parsley
- 1/4 cup Parmigiana
- 1 large egg
- salt & pepper to taste (start with 1/2 teaspoon salt, 1/4 teaspoon pepper)
- 1/8 cup skim milk (any milk ok)
- 1/4 cup breadcrumbs (I love Progresso Italian style)
- 1 cup mozzarella
- 1 28 oz. jar tomato sauce (my favorite is Rao's Marinara)
- Preheat your oven to 350 degrees.
- Spray a 9x13 baking dish with cooking spray.
- Saute ground chicken in a frying pan with the garlic, onion, bell pepper, mushrooms until fully cooked. Remove from heat and set aside while you prepare yor zucchini.
- Wash zucchini and slice down the middle the long way. Then slice the peices in half so they look like the photo. You should end up with 8 zucchini halves.
- TIP: Take a knife and slice a couple of long cuts down the zucchini being careful not to puncture through the green flesh. Do this a couple times and it will help when scooping out the inside of the zucchini.
- Take a spoon and carefully scoop out the inside of the zucchini being careful not to puncture the green flesh. I like to leave about 1/4-1/2 inch of the zucchini in tact with the flesh so you have quite a thick "boat" to stuff. See photos. Add the zucchini you scooped out to the frying pan mixture.
- Now add Oregano, Basil, Parsely, Parmigiana, egg, salt & pepper, milk, breadcrumbs to the frying pan mixture and combine all of it well.
- Pour 1/2 of the tomato sauce into the baking dish and spread around this helps cook the zucchini.
- Place your zucchini boats on top of the sauce.
- Stuff the zucchini until all of the frying pan mixture is used up. It's okay if they get quite full. Really stuff it in tight.
- Pour remaining tomato sauce over the stuffed zucchini.
- Top with the mozzarella.
- Bake covered with tin foil for 30 minutes, then uncovered for additional 30 minutes. If it's not bubbly, add on a little time.
- Serve with my easy Overnight Artisan Bread recipe found on redheadcandecorate.com