One of my favorite things about the Spring and Summer months is the fresh produce. It just makes eating healthy that much easier. You can grow your own veggies, better picks and prices at the grocery store, farmer’s markets. The options are plentiful! Zucchini is one of those vegetables that I miss during the long, cold winter months. I actually get excited thinking about them being available to purchase and the recipes I can put them in!
Behold! The Zucchini Boat. Seriously. Can a vegetable get much better than when it’s stuffed?? Here is a great way to eat your veggies as your main dish. Add a large salad to the side and you are getting your veggies in for the day! Zucchini Boats are so versatile. I’ve made a Mexican style, stuffed with lean ground beef, stuffed with lean ground turkey, and Ta-Dah! Italian style!
These are pretty simple to make. It’s one of those healthy meals we like for a week night. TIP: TO MAKE THIS MEAL EVEN QUICKER YOU CAN BROWN YOUR MEAT AND EVEN PREP YOUR ZUCCHINIS THE NIGHT BEFORE. THAT JUST LEAVES BUILDING THE BOATS AND BAKING FOR THE DAY OF.
I like to think of my version of these zucchini boats as kind of like the filling between layers of a lasagna. Like I said earlier though, it’s hard to go wrong with these. Use whatever seasonings and ingredients you have on hand, but definitely give these a whirl!
So start by preheating your oven to 400 F. While your oven preheats, brown your meat of choice (lean ground turkey or chicken will be the healthiest options. Lean ground beef works well too though. Emphasis on the LEAN). Also while you are working on browning the meat, prep your zucchini.
To prep the zucchini, cut off the ends and then slice in half long ways (like a hot dog bun). Use a small spoon to scrape out the seedy part, plus a little extra to make a nice boat for your meat to sit in. DO NOT DISCARD THE PART YOU SCRAPED OUT. WE DON’T WANT TO WASTE! Here is what your prepped boats should look like.
NOTE: It’s so much easier to cut these if you buy the straightest zucchini that you can find. I wasn’t thinking about it at all when I bought them. It is not a must have though.
Drizzle about 1/2 tbsp of olive oil over the tops of these. Now it’s time to move onto the filling.
This is where the variation can really begin. To my browned ground turkey meat I add a small can of no salt added tomato sauce, garlic powder, onion powder, Italian seasoning, salt, and pepper. Chop up the zucchini centers that you scraped out earlier and add it to the meat mixture. Optional additions to this version that my husband loves, but will add calories is chopping up turkey pepperonis and throwing that in the mix as well. Stir mixture till well combined.
This picture is actually for the Mexican style boats I made, but this is how I like to throw my seasonings on for taking pictures. I think it makes it look so appealing!
Once you’ve combined all the ingredients for the mixture, scoop it into each boat. NOTE: 1LB OF MEAT MADE ENOUGH FOR ME TO FILL 6 BOATS NICE AND FULL. HOW MUCH MEAT YOU PUT IN EACH BOAT WILL HAVE THE BIGGEST IMPACT ON THE CALORIES.
Once you have the boats stuffed with the precious cargo they are ready to set sail into the hot oven for 25-30 minutes. (Depends on how tender you want the zucchini to get). The last 5 minutes of cooking, top each boat with shredded Parmesan cheese.
Here is the final product!
Hope you all enjoy!!
Italian Style Stuffed Turkey Boats
yields: 6 servings, 1 boat stuffed
1 lb ground turkey (or other lean meat)
1 small can no salt added tomato sauce
shredded Parmesan cheese (for topping)
Optional add ins:
diced bell pepper
whole wheat bread crumbs
Preheat oven to 400F. Brown meat in skillet till cooked through. While meat is browning, prepare zucchini boats by cutting off the ends and cutting in half lengthwise. Scrape out the seedy middle, chop it up, and save for later use. Drizzle boats with olive oil. Once meat is cooked, add seasonings to taste along with tomato sauce, chopped zucchini, and any other add ins. Mix till well combined. Divide meat mixture evenly between each boat. Bake for 25-30 minutes or till zucchini reaches desired tenderness. Last 5 minutes of baking, top with the cheese to allow it to melt.
Can be enjoyed as is, over a bed of whole grain rice, or with a large salad.