If you have tons of zucchini, this is the recipe for you.
Actually, let’s not sell these zucchini boats short. If you have even a few zucchini, this may very well be the recipe for you!
I’ve made zucchini boats for my family no less than six times this summer. In the span of one zucchini season, I’ve made Italian zucchini boats, Mexican zucchini boats, Italian zucchini boats with meat, without meat…you get it. A lot of zucchini boats.
And for good reason! They’re delicious. Nutritious. Easy enough. And depending on what stage you’re at with the
jungle zucchini patch in your garden, a great way to use up zucchini!
How kids can help
I love making these zucchini boats with my kids. Especially as part of our new weekly helper rotation. We have four kids and the oldest three (ages 7, 5 and 4) have been rotating all summer: cooking helper, laundry helper, dishes helper.
The idea starts with teaching our kids life skills they’ll need someday. Sooner or later, they’re gonna have to throw a load of laundry in if they want clean socks. For now, I’m focusing on the fine art of folding and sorting. Baby steps. Gaining experience. Building confidence.
And for all three areas in our rotation, there’s another accompanying lesson that I’m enjoying in the present day: life is easier when everyone pitches in!
That’s why I love this kind of simple recipe that’s easy for kids to help with. And in keeping with the goals of the cooking helper program, it’s a great technique for them to learn. Hollow out zucchini, fill them with anything, roast!
That’s my 7-year-old, Phoebe, below. She’s on Step 1. After slicing a medium sized zucchini lengthwise, we use a melon baller to hollow out the core. If this were really a boat, it’d be a canoe.
After they’re hollowed out, I like to invert them on a baking sheet and roast for about 10 minutes at 400 degrees F.
In the meantime, brown your onion and ground beef. Pour off the oil and mix in your favorite red sauce.
Once the boats come out of the oven, organize an assembly line while they cool enough to handle. Here’s what you’ll need: partially roasted zucchini, salt and pepper, sauce and mozzarella cheese.
Flip your boats over (I use tongs) and fill them up. Start with a sprinkle of S&P, followed by a healthy portion of your ragu and top with cheese.
Into the oven again for about 20 minutes.
Serve with a loaf of crusty bread and tada! Dinner’s on the table.
A Second Way to Love Zucchini Boats
Want to try this technique in another way that our entire family–now I’m talking about extended family including 3 teenaged nieces and nephews–devoured in minutes flat?
Roast your zucchini the same way. Brown your beef and onion, only this time add Mexican flavors like chili powder and cumin plus a can of roasted tomatoes. Top with cheddar cheese and as they come out of the oven, add freshly chopped tomatoes and avocado with lime juice squeezed right over the top.
With a bowl of tortilla chips? Heaven.
- non-stick spray
- 6 medium zucchini
- 1 sweet onion, chopped
- 1 pound ground beef (grass fed if possible)
- 2 cups marinara sauce
- 1-2 cups mozzarella cheese
- salt and pepper
- Preheat your oven to 400 degrees F. While the oven heats, slice zucchini lengthwise, trimming the vine end off.
- Scoop out the center of your zucchini. I find a melon baller to be the perfect tool.
- After they're hollowed out, invert the zucchini on a greased baking sheet and roast for about 10 minutes at 400 degrees F.
- In the meantime, brown your onion and ground beef. Pour off the oil and mix in your favorite red sauce.
- Once the boats come out of the oven, organize an assembly line while they cool enough to handle. Here's what you'll need: partially roasted zucchini, salt and pepper, sauce and mozzarella cheese.
- Flip your boats over (I use tongs) and fill them up. Start with a sprinkle of S&P, followed by a healthy portion of your beef ragu and top with cheese. I like to add about half an inch of water to the bottom of the pan, just to keep everything moist and bubbly.
- Cover with foil (tip: spray the underside of your foil with non-stick spray so your cheese doesn't stick).
- Into the oven again for about 20 minutes.
- Serve with a loaf of crusty bread and softened butter for a meal your whole family will love.