Pesto Stuffed Zucchini

You know what happens when you go on vacation, even for a few days, and you have zucchini growing in your garden? Even when it’s only for four days and you’ve picked every visible zucchini you can right before you leave? Bats, that’s what. Baseball bats. Humungous baseball bat-sized zucchini that you can’t imagine could have grown in just four days. Let alone three of them. What the heck? Where did these come from? Obviously you’re blind, you tell yourself, they must have been hiding under a leaf. Lots of leaves. Whatever. Now you have them, so what to do? Zucchini bread and zucchini cake are obvious choices, and you can also scoop out some of the insides of these mongo zucchinis, stuff the zucchini shells, and bake them. Which is exactly what we’ve done here.

This stuffed zucchini recipe is somewhat of a gardener’s paradise. If you are growing zucchini, you are also likely growing tomatoes and basil. We make pesto with our excess of basil, and we pick cherry tomatoes from our plants all summer long. The stuffing for this recipe is just freshly made croutons and Mozzarella cheese, tossed with basil pesto, some grated Parm, a few chopped cherry tomatoes, and toasted pine nuts. A perfect summer garden meal. Enjoy!

Pesto Stuffed Zucchini Recipe

  • Prep time: 10 minutes
  • Cook time: 1 hour
  • Yield: Serves 4.

Ingredients

  • 2 cups of day old cubed bread*
  • 1 Tbsp butter
  • 2 Tbsp pine nuts
  • 1 very large zucchini (about 2 pounds), otherwise known as a baseball bat zucchini
  • 1/4 cup prepared basil pesto
  • 1/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese
  • 4 ounces fresh mozzarella, cut into cubes
  • A handful of cherry tomatoes, roughly chopped
  • Salt

*The bread should be a little dry, this way it will toast better. If you don't have day old or slightly dry bread, cut up fresh bread and lay out on a baking sheet. Heat in a 200°F oven for 10 minutes.

Method

1 In a medium skillet, melt butter on medium to medium high heat. Add the slightly dry cubed bread, toss to coat at least some of the sides in a little butter. Lay out in a single layer cook, without moving the croutons, until one side is lightly browned, then toss and let cook a little more so a few more sides get a little brown. Remove from pan and let cool to touch.

2 While the croutons are browning, heat a small skillet on high. Add the pine nuts and cook until they begin to brown (do not walk away, once they start browning they can easily go from brown to burnt!). When they start to brown, remove them from the pan into a small bowl.

3 Place the croutons and Mozzarella in a medium bowl. Toss with the pesto. Add the grated Parmesan, chopped cherry tomatoes, toasted pine nuts, and toss some more.

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4 Preheat the oven to 375°F. Cut the zucchini in half lengthwise. Scoop out the inner flesh with a metal spoon, leaving 1/4 to a 1/2-inch thickness in the zucchini boats.** Place the zucchini boats in a roasting pan. Sprinkle the inside of the boats with salt. Fill the boats with the stuffing mixture. Pour a cup or so of water into the bottom of the roasting pan (so that zucchini doesn't dry out on the outside), to about 1/4 inch depth. Bake for 45 minutes at 375°F.

**In this recipe we are not using the zucchini flesh that we have scooped out. You can easily freeze it for later use with zucchini recipes such as zucchini bread, zucchini muffins, or zucchini cake. Or you can chop some of it up and mix it in with the stuffing mixture.

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Links:

Roasted Zucchini Pesto from Angie's Recipes
Penne Pasta with Zucchini and Basil Pesto
Zucchini noodles with pesto from Tea and Cookies
Zucchini Pesto Lasagna from The Bojon Gourmet

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23 Comments

  1. Jerry

    Oh. Yes please! Simple. Succinct. Perfect. Can I come for dinner?

    Jerry, you have an open invitation! ~Elise

  2. Redd H from Salted Spoon

    Mmm I love this idea. The croutons are an awesome addition. I’m so jealous of people who get to grow zucchini! Stupid desert :-(

  3. Meghan

    This sounds delish!

  4. Inez

    hmmm wondering … would this be just as good with the baseball bat size Crook-neck squash?

    I don’t see why not! ~Elise

  5. Mary @ beyondjelly

    Oh! Now I want room for a garden so I can grow all that and make fresh deliciousness!

  6. Tricia @ Saving room for dessert

    I just picked two baseball bats from our garden and plan to stuff them with a Quinoa mixture. So funny – this made me laugh. I don’t know how they grow that fast. Lovely recipe!

  7. Tarahlynn

    They should have a warning on Zucchini plants and seeds! We had the same problem last year, planted three of them and we literally could not give enough of them away! Only planted one plant this year but I’m still getting a worried feeling, looks like we’ll be freezing a lot of Zucchini yet again! Cant wait to try this though because we’ve got basil coming out of our ears too :)

  8. Framed Cooks

    Love this – and not because I have a zucchini overflow but because I am racing to keep up with all the BASIL! So thanks from us over -achieving basil-growers as well. :)

  9. Rocky Mountain Woman

    Always always always looking for new zucchini recipes this time of year.

    This one looks especially good!

  10. Cynthia

    We just made a stuffed zucchini this past weekend because this is exactly what happened to us last week. We went away on vacation and came back to HUGE zucchinis. We chopped a lot of vegetables that are growing out back and stuffed the zucchini with those ingredients. Thank you for another recipe I can make when we have baseball bats growing. This looks so delicious. And the best part is that we have cherry tomatoes growing out back too.

  11. Mike

    Hah! When you said bats, the first thing that came to mind was green, leafy vines filled with little brown creatures, hanging upside-down!!

  12. KimH

    Looks wonderful. Toss some cumin in there and its much like something I ate when I was a kid.

    Something else you could use those bats for and what I let get that size on purpose before the years end is Zucchini Relish. This recipe is the closest to mine that I’ve seen online. http://kitchen-parade-veggieventure.blogspot.com/2008/08/homemade-zucchini-relish.html

    The differences are
    1. my recipe calls for 2 red bell peppers, 2 green ones, and 2 jalapenos
    2. Mine doesnt call for any cornstarch or other thickener
    3. The proportions of the spices are a little different and mine calls for pickling spice instead of nutmeg.
    4. Mine says to simmer 20 minutes, but Nanny who i got the recipe from didnt water bath them but just processed them into clean canning jars. I water bath pints for 10 minutes.

    I no longer buy sweet relish of any kind because this is better than any out there. I give it as gifts for Christmas fairly often and people always tell me how they sit there with a spoon and usually eat the whole jar by itself instead of using it with something. Yep, its that good..

    I’ll have to try it, thank you! And I love Alanna’s site, thanks for sharing. ~Elise

  13. Connie Martin

    When did you plant your zucchini, is it a summertime veggie? I live in Fl. and it gets hot here, although it’s been hot all over the country this year! I make stuffed zucchini using grd. turkey and rice with a tomatoe sause that is really good! Very spanish, with olives and cumin. MMMMgood!!

    Yes, most places zucchini is a summertime veggie, though I think in Florida it gets too hot in the summer and it’s easier to grow zucchini and tomatoes in the winter? ~Elise

  14. Amanda

    My zucchini and tomato plants have gotten a late start this year, owing to a supremely soggy June in Seattle. I haven’t picked a single tomato or zucchini yet! Here’s to hoping that August will be hot and sunny and I’ll be swimming in the suckers.

  15. Alanna

    Thanks for the link love!

    This recipe looks SO good – like all things awesome baked in zucchini! And I’m all over your chocolate zucchini bread. : )

    Another favorite recipe is the Zucchini Cilantro Soup with Chile and Mint from Deborah Madison’s Local Flavors, which is thickened with a pureed corn tortilla. It’s crazy good.

  16. Crystal Jensen

    Hi Elise: Am I eating the big zucchini when I cut into this meal or am I just using it as a boat and only eating the stuffing? Are these bat-sized zucchini as tasty as the banana sized ones I always buy? I’ve always turned down the offer of huge zucchini fearing bitterness and wood-y-ness. Thanks!

    Hi Crystal, Yes you eat the whole zucchini, with exception perhaps of the woody stem end. The seeds might be big and tough, which is why you scoop them out. If they are not tough or bitter you can mix them back in with the stuffing if you want. The big zucchini bats that we find in our garden haven’t been bitter so far. ~Elise

  17. atingerea cuantica

    This recipe looks very nice and certainly taste very, very good. I tried to cook it and my family was impressed by the taste, the look was not very nice, but in the end taste counts more. Thanks for sharing.

  18. Monique

    Just tried this tonight. Very easy and quick to prepare. I used smoked mozzerella and yellow cherry tomatoes (my 7yr old’s choice)and wheat bread. My husband loved it! I will definitely be making this again! Thanks for this recipe!

  19. lizzie @ strayedtable

    These look amazing. We always end up with a few turbo sized zucchinis. A great way to jazz them up, instead of frightening your kids to eat veggies.

  20. Edamam

    We haven’t tired of zucchini yet this summer! This is a great use for overgrown ones, along with all the other vegetable in abundance this time of year. Our rule of thumb is to choose medium-sized zucchini and squash that feel heavy for their size. Their flavor is fully developed and their flesh is still tender.

  21. Aunt Clara

    I am on a zucchini bender these days, I just bought some more last night. This sounds like a perfectly cromulent way to put them to good use. Now I know what’s for dinner.

    Thanks for the recipe.

  22. Barbara

    Can you believe it – I can’t find zucchini large enough for this recipe!!!! I just HAD to try it so I had to use slightly smaller zucchini but I was glad I decided to use about one cup of seasoned bread crumbs (homemade) instead of the croutons because I could really pack the filling in!

  23. La Tante de Mary

    Joining in from the countryside in France where I am awash in supersized courgettes. This is a lovely recipe, and it makes a fine lunch. I prettied it up with a grating of parmesan, and a few halved cherry tomatoes arranged insouciantly on top.

    Thanks to the person in the comments who pointed out zucchini relish. I have not only my own baseball bats, but my English neighbour’s cricket bats to deal with, as they asked me to cull their garden while they were elsewhere, and I turned my back on their zucchinis for a day too long!

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