stuffed zucchini on plate

Zucchini is one of those veggies that is often overlooked due to its mild flavor. However, zucchini’s inoffensive nature makes it very versatile as it can stand in for noodles or be baked into quick breads, cakes, and muffins. As any gardener can tell you, zucchini is also super easy to grow. Recipe developer Miriam Hahn says of this vegetable, "I grow it in my garden and always end up with tons of it." For this reason, she tells us, "I love trying different ways to use zucchini." This recipe for zucchini boats is a particular favorite of hers since it makes a great main dish thanks to its balance of protein, healthy fats, and fiber. All the same, she says it can also make a great side dish. "I usually make it ahead," she notes, adding, "then [I] just heat it up in my warming drawer until it is time to serve it."

Hahn, a wellness coach, points out that zucchini is actually quite the nutritional powerhouse. "It is very nutrient dense," she says, explaining that this means, "it is packed with a high amount of nutrition for a very low calorie count." She also touts zucchini’s high levels of antioxidants and the fact that it provides 40% of our recommended daily vitamin A, which she says, "is great for eyes and skin." What’s more, zucchini is packed with soluble fiber, something Hahn tells us, "helps increase our good gut bacteria."

Assemble the ingredients for the stuffed zucchini boats

ingredients for stuffed zucchini

If it’s summertime and you have no zucchini on hand, all you need to do is ask and you’ll probably be inundated with the stuff by gardening neighbors desperate to get rid of this prolific plant. If that still doesn’t work, you may need to buy some zucchini, which is fine because it tends to be fairly cheap. In addition to the zucchini itself, you’ll also need quinoa, garbanzo beans, grape tomatoes, Kalamata olives, Italian parsley, fresh basil, a lemon (for the juice and zest), feta cheese, olive oil, dried oregano, and garlic powder or granules.

Prepare and season the zucchini

sliced zucchini with spices

Start by preheating your oven to 350 F. Next, cut the ends off the zucchini and slice them in half lengthwise to make the boats. As Hahn advises, "If the [zucchini] are rolling when you set them down, slice a thin piece off of the skin side to create a flat surface." Brush the fleshy sides with ½ a tablespoon of oil (about ¼ teaspoon per cut zucchini) and sprinkle them with half of the oregano and garlic along with ½ teaspoon salt and ¼ teaspoon pepper.

Heat 1 tablespoon of oil in a skillet and then lay the zucchini in the pan flesh side down. Cook the vegetables for 5 minutes until they are charred. As they cook, sprinkle the skin side with the remaining spices as well as another ½ teaspoon salt and ¼ teaspoon pepper. When the first side is done cooking, flip the zucchini and char the skin side for 5 more minutes. Turn off the heat and let the zucchini cool. Hahn indicates that you may need to cook the zucchini in batches if they are too big for your pan.

Mix up the filling and stuff the zucchini

filling for stuffed zucchini

As the zucchini cools, mix the remaining olive oil with the cooked quinoa, garbanzos, tomatoes, feta, olives, parsley, lemon zest, and lemon juice. Hahn points out that "The stuffing is great on its own too as a salad, or served in lettuce cups!" She also says you can tweak the filling as desired. Fresh mint would make a great addition, and you can also use fresh oregano instead of the dried kind she uses. Swap out the garbanzos for white northern beans if that’s what you’ve got on hand, or use rice or farro in place of the quinoa. As Hahn describes it, this is a "super flexible recipe," adding, "I also love that it is super easy to make this 100% plant-based by using dairy-free feta or omitt[ing] the cheese."

When the zucchini halves are cool enough to handle, scoop out the flesh from the inside and save it for another use. Hahn tells us, "I usually throw it into a tofu scramble or mix it in with other veggies and serve [it] over pasta. I also like to throw it into a batch of soup." Next, spoon the quinoa filling into the hollowed-out zucchinis and place them in a baking dish.

Bake and serve the stuffed zucchini

stuffed zucchini on plate

Bake the stuffed zucchini for 20 minutes in the preheated oven. Just before serving, top them with the basil. Hahn says the stuffed zucchini makes for a meal on its own and remarks that she likes to serve this dish accompanied by a toasted baguette or homemade bread. She also recommends a green veggie side like steamed broccoli or else a leafy green salad or a bowl of soup. "If you want [the stuffed zucchini] as a side only," Hahn tells us, "you can omit the beans or quinoa, or omit them both and just fill [the zucchini] with the tomatoes, olives, herbs, and feta."

  • 3 medium zucchini
  • 3 tablespoons olive oil, divided
  • 2 teaspoons dried oregano, divided
  • ½ teaspoon garlic powder or granules
  • 1 teaspoon salt, divided
  • ½ teaspoon pepper
  • ¾ cup cooked quinoa
  • ¾ cup garbanzo beans
  • ½ cup grape tomatoes, quartered
  • ½ cup feta cheese
  • ¼ cup Kalamata olives, halved
  • ¼ cup Italian parsley, chopped
  • zest of one lemon
  • 2 teaspoons lemon juice
  • ¼ cup fresh basil, slivered
  1. Preheat the oven to 350 F.
  2. Cut off the zucchini ends and cut the vegetable in ½ lengthwise.
  3. Brush about ½ tablespoon of oil across the zucchini flesh, then sprinkle them with 1 teaspoon of oregano, ¼ teaspoon of garlic powder, ½ teaspoon of salt, and ¼ teaspoon of pepper.
  4. Heat 1 tablespoon of oil in a skillet over high heat.
  5. When the oil is hot, lay the zucchini in the pan flesh side down and cook it for 5 minutes until charred.
  6. While the zucchini is cooking, oil and season the skin side with the remaining oregano, garlic powder, salt, and pepper.
  7. Flip the zucchini and cook it for 3 to 5 minutes until the skin side is also charred.
  8. Set the cooked zucchini aside to cool.
  9. Mix the remaining 1 ½ tablespoons of olive oil with the quinoa, garbanzo beans, tomatoes, feta, olives, parsley, lemon zest, and lemon juice, stirring to combine.
  10. Scoop the flesh out of the cooled zucchini and save it for another use.
  11. Fill each ½ zucchini with the quinoa mixture and place them one by one into a baking dish.
  12. Bake the zucchini boats in the oven for 20 minutes.
  13. Top the zucchini boats with fresh basil before serving.