Zucchini is a summertime favourite, as gardens and farmers markets are usually overflowing with this popular squash. Take advantage of the season’s bounty by whipping up our fast and fresh Italian stuffed zucchini boats, and have dinner ready in about 30 minutes.
Italian-style stuffed zucchini boats recipe
- 3 medium (approximately 8-10 inches) zucchini
- 1 (450 gram) package hot Italian ground sausage meat
- 2 cups homemade or good-quality marinara sauce
- 1/2 a medium onion, diced
- 3 garlic cloves, minced
- 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
- 1/3 cup panko breadcrumbs
- 1/4 cup basil, chopped
- 1-1/2 cups shredded Italian cheese blend
- Kosher salt, to taste
- Fresh ground pepper, to taste
- Italian parsley and fresh basil leaves, for garnish
- Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F.
- In a medium skillet over medium-high heat, cook the sausage meat for approximately 8 to 10 minutes or until it’s fully cooked through. Stir often, and use a spatula to break the meat into small pieces.
- At the same time, in a separate, small frying pan over medium heat, sauté the garlic and onion in the olive oil for 3 to 4 minutes.
- While the meat and garlic-onion mixture are cooking, slice each zucchini in half lengthwise, and trim off the stems. Use a large spoon or melon baller to scoop out the seeds from the centre to create a zucchini boat. Be sure to leave about 1/2 inch of zucchini flesh intact. Place the zucchini shells in a microwave-safe container or casserole dish, and cook on high for 6 minutes or until fork tender. Rotate the pieces a few times to ensure they cook evenly.
- Add 1/2 cup of marinara sauce and the garlic-onion mixture to the cooked sausage meat in the large skillet, and stir to combine. Cook over medium heat for an additional few minutes, until heated through. As the meat mixture continues to cook, add the breadcrumbs to the small frying pan, and season with kosher salt and ground pepper. Toast the crumbs over medium heat for 2 minutes or until golden brown. Stir often.
- Stir the chopped basil into the meat mixture, and remove from heat.
- Spread the remaining 1-1/2 cups of marinara sauce on the bottom of a large baking dish or lasagna pan.
- Add the zucchini halves, and fill them with the sausage mixture. Sprinkle on the toasted breadcrumbs, and top with the shredded cheese.
- Bake for approximately 5 to 7 minutes, and then turn the oven up to 550 degrees F or to broil. Watch carefully, and continue to bake until the cheese has melted and is browned.
- Serve as an all-in-one main dish with a piece of garlic toast, or add a side of spaghetti tossed with extra-virgin olive oil and Parmesan. For something lighter, pair this dish with a garden salad and balsamic vinaigrette.
- Garnish with basil or chopped parsley.