During the peak of the growing season, it seems like you can find zucchini everywhere. One of my family’s favorite ways to eat zucchini is stuffed with a delicious meat and rice mixture! Stuffed Zucchini Boats filled with ground beef, fresh garden tomatoes, rice, green onions, and Italian seasoning. It is almost like pizza!
The zucchini halves are brushed with garlic-infused olive oil and sprinkled with Kosher salt, and then stuffed with this delicious ground beef mixture made with local ground beef, rice cooked in beef broth, diced fresh tomatoes, chopped green onions, tomato sauce, and Italian seasoning. Topped with shredded mozzarella and shaved parmesan cheese if you want! However, if you are dairy free, omit the cheese. This recipe is also gluten-free, low-carb, and low FODMAP!
- Fresh Zucchini - Try to find medium zucchini. However, Mother Nature creates garden zucchini in all shapes and sizes, just like people! You can trim and scoop out more filling if you have more robust zucchini from your garden. Large zucchini can lose flavor and have more seeds, but it will still work!
- Ground Beef - We use our local ground beef.
- White Rice - Long grain rice, leftover rice works well too!
- Beef Broth - If you need to cook the rice. It will add more flavor.
- Green Onions - Only the green onions tops if you are on a low FODMAP diet.
- Tomato Sauce - Use one without garlic in it.
- Fresh Tomatoes - Fresh from the garden or the Farmers Market! Grocery store tomatoes will work too!
- Garlic Infused Olive Oil - Adds additional flavor to the zucchini.
- Kosher Salt - My favorite salt for cooking.
- Italian Seasoning - I love the seasoning from Penzey’s. There is no onion or garlic in it!
- Mozerella Cheese- Totally option but adds a creaminess to the dish.
- Parmesan Cheese - Adds extra flavor and melts into a beautiful golden brown. Cheese is totally optional but so delicious!
- Fresh Basil - I picked it from the plant on my window sill. Smells amazing.
See the recipe card for the exact measurements and complete instructions. Selected ingredients are based on current serving sizes measured by the Monash App at the time of publishing. As always, follow your gut and modify as needed.Jump to Recipe
Dice the tomatoes into small pieces. I like to keep the skin on for a more rustic look. If you do not enjoy the tomato skins, blanch the tomatoes and remove the skins.
In a large skillet over medium-high heat, fry the ground beef until it is no longer pink.
Cook the rice in beef broth according to the package directions if not using leftover rice.
Add the diced tomatoes to the beef.
Allow the tomatoes to cook down for a few minutes over medium to low heat.
Add the tomato sauce, green onions, and Italian seasoning to the skillet. Stir until combined.
When the rice is done cooking, or if you are using leftover rice, add the cooked rice to the saucepan. Add ½ to 1 teaspoon of Kosher salt, based on your taste preferences. It is a perfect filling for a stuffed zucchini boat.
Wash the zucchini and remove any dirt. Trim off the stem end and slice the zucchini in half.
With a small spoon or a melon baller, scrape out the inside of the zucchini. Leave enough of the zucchini to keep the structure of the zucchini boat but take enough away that it will cook all the way through.
With a pastry brush, brush on olive oil inside and outside the zucchini boat. Then sprinkle a bit of Kosher salt. Doing this will flavor the zucchini while it cooks. Place the zucchini halves in a baking dish.
Next, with a small spoon, fill the zucchini with the meat filling.
If you have any leftover meat mixture, you have two options. You can cut up another zucchini, or make small casserole. Place the leftover meat mixture, the leftover zucchini pulp, and place it in a small casserole dish. Top the casserole with cheese if you want, and cook it alongside the stuffed zucchini boats.
Top zucchini boats with mozzarella and parmesan cheese if you are using it.
Place in a 350 degree F oven for 40-45 minutes or until the zucchini is fork tender and the cheese is golden brown.
- Yellow Squash - If you do not have zucchini or want to try something different, try a yellow squash!
- Rice Options - Use basmati or jasmine rice for a different flavor profile. Add more fiber with brown rice, or reduce carbs and use cauliflower rice.
- Tomatoes - If you don’t have fresh tomatoes, use a can of dice tomatoes. Fire-roasted diced tomatoes would be delicious!
- Fresh Herbs - Fresh parsley would be another delicious option sprinkled over the top.
- Spicy Stuffed Zucchini - Add ½ teaspoon red pepper flakes to the meat mixture.
- Vegetarian Option - Skip the beef and, add a diced red bell pepper, diced mushrooms, and sprinkle in crumbled tofu.
- Ground Meat Options- Use ground turkey, ground chicken, ground sirloin, or ground pork. A mixture of lean ground beef and ground pork would be delicious.
- Tomato Paste - Use tomato paste instead of tomato sauce for a more robust tomato flavor depth. Another great option would be to use marinara sauce.
- Cheese Options - Additional cheese options include cheddar and feta cheese sprinkled on top. A slice of cheese such as provolone or Munster would also be delicious.
Low FODMAP Notes
Zucchini is safe based on the Monash App at ⅓ of a cup. If you can tolerate fructans, you can eat more. One half of a medium-sized zucchini stuffed boat worked for my tolerances.
Fresh tomatoes are safe ½ of a tomato. Be sure the tomato sauce you use does not have garlic or onions listed in the ingredients. Use only the green onion tops and garlic-infused olive oil.
Cheese - both mozzarella and parmesan cheese are low in lactose. However, if you cannot tolerate do not use.
As always, modify and listen to your gut. Everyone is so different with what they can tolerate and in what quantities.
Keep any leftovers in an airtight container in the refrigerator for 3-4 days. Reheat the zucchini boats in the microwave or on a baking sheet in a 350 degree F oven until warmed up. I would not recommend freezing. The flesh of the zucchini would not withstand the freezing and defrosting process.
Serve stuffed zucchini boats with a side of fresh sweet corn and roasted tiny potatoes! Add a fresh diced tomato drizzled in garlic-infused olive oil and sprinkled with Kosher salt. Stuffed zucchini boats are a completely nutritious meal on their own, but a simple green salad topped with Italian dressing would make a beautiful plate.
To meal prep this meal, make the filling mixture in advance. Save the zucchini prep for the day of the meal. This will keep the integrity of the zucchini halves from wilting or seeping water while they sit.
Stuffed Zucchini Boats
- 3 Medium Sized Fresh Zucchini
- 1 Pound Ground Beef
- ½ cup White Rice or 1 cup Leftover Cooked Rice
- 1 cup Beef Broth Used To Make Rice. Omit if using leftover rice.
- ½ cup Green Onions Tops
- 8 oz. Tomato Sauce
- 2 Medium Sized Fresh Tomatoes
- 1 Tablespoon Garlic Infused Olive Oil
- 1 teaspoon Kosher Salt
- 1 Tablespoon Italian Seasoning
- 1 cup Mozzarella Cheese Shredded
- ½ cup Parmesan Cheese Shaved
- Fresh Basil
- In a large skillet over medium-high heat, fry the ground beef until it is no longer pink.
- Cook the rice in beef broth according to the package directions.
- Dice the tomatoes into small pieces with a sharp knife on a cutting board.
- Add the diced tomatoes to the beef mixture in the skillet.
- Allow the tomatoes to cook down for a few minutes. Reduce the heat to low.
- Add the tomato sauce, green onions, and Italian seasoning. Stir until combined.
- Add the cooked rice to the saucepan. Add ½ to 1 teaspoon of Kosher salt, based on your taste preferences. Allow the mixture to simmer for two minutes.
- Wash the zucchini and remove any dirt. With a sharp knife on a cutting board, trim off the stem end and slice the zucchini in half. With a small spoon or a melon baller, scrape out the inside of the zucchini flesh. Leave enough of the zucchini to keep the structure of the zucchini boat but take enough away that it will cook all the way through.
- Brush olive oil inside and outside the zucchini boat with a pastry brush. Next, sprinkle a bit of Kosher salt over the zucchini. This will flavor the zucchini while it cooks. Place the zucchini halves in a baking dish.
- Next, with a small spoon, fill the zucchini with the meat filling. Allow the mixture to heap up, and fill the entire zucchini. If you have any leftover stuff mixture, you can either cut up another zucchini or you can place the leftover stuffing mixture and the leftover zucchini pulp and place in a small casserole dish. Top with cheese if you want, and cook it alongside the stuffed zucchini boats. It becomes a zucchini casserole for anyone who doesn't want to eat it in zucchini shells.
- Top with mozzarella and parmesan cheese if you are using it.
- Place in a 350 degree F oven for 40-45 minutes or until the zucchini is fork tender and the cheese is golden brown.