Fellow gardeners, you know this tale well. You step away from your garden bed for one minute (or a weekend) and come back to find a monster zucchini hiding in the greenery.
Sometimes the plant warns you. Regular zucchini production starts slowing down, odd for early summer. The reason? All of the plant's attention is going to feeding that one humongous, baseball bat of a zuke.
Fortunately, those ginormous zucchini are perfect for stuffing!
How To Make Stuffed Zucchini
Making stuffed zucchini is easy. You just cut the zucchini in half lengthwise, and scoop out the insides, leaving a shell to stuff with whatever your heart desires.
This week my heart desired Italian sausage, so my friends, this is what we are using to stuff this particular zucchini.
We brown some Italian sausage, onions, garlic, and some of the zucchini insides, and mix it with fresh breadcrumbs, basil, tomatoes, oregano, and Parmesan cheese. One egg is all you need to bind the stuffing together.
Into the oven go these stuffed zucchini boats to bake for 40 minutes. Yum!
Make-Ahead Stuffed Zucchini
Need to make ahead? You can easily stuff the zucchini a day ahead of time. Just stuff the zucchini, keep it chilled, then bake right before serving.
This is a meal in and of itself—no need to serve it with anything else.
By the way, zucchini tends to become watery and mushy when frozen, so we don't recommend freezing this recipe.
Swaps and Substitutions
- Smaller zucchini: Use 3 to 4 normal-sized zucchinis in place of the giant one. Bake for 25 to 30 minutes, until the zucchini is tender when pierced.
- Vegetarian: Swap the sausage for sautéed chopped mushrooms.
- Dairy-free: Swap the Parmesan for nutritional yeast, or leave it out.
- Gluten-free: Use gluten-free breadcrumbs, or leave out.
More Ways to Make Stuffed Zucchini
- 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
- 1/2 pound Italian sausage, removed from casing
- 1 large zucchini, 12 to 14 inches long (about 1 1/4 to 2 pounds) or 3 to 4 medium zucchini
- 1 cup chopped onion
- 3 cloves garlic, finely chopped
- 2 slices bread, pulsed in food processor or blender to make fresh breadcrumbs (about 1 cup)
- 2 medium tomatoes, chopped
- 1/4 cup chopped fresh basil
- 1/2 teaspoon dried oregano, or 2 teaspoons chopped fresh oregano
- 3/4 cup shredded Parmesan cheese
- 1 large egg, lightly beaten
- 3/4 teaspoon salt (less or more to taste)
- 1 teaspoon ground black pepper
Preheat oven to 375°F
Cook the sausage
Heat 1 tablespoon of olive oil in a medium skillet on medium heat. Add the sausage, and gently cook until it is mostly (but not completely) cooked through.
Stir frequently and break up the sausage into smaller pieces while it cooks. Remove to a large bowl and set aside.
Prep the zucchini
Cut the zucchini in half. Use a metal spoon to scoop out the insides of the zucchini, leaving the zucchini shell about 1/4-inch thick. Remove and discard any thick seeds from the insides you've scooped out.
Chop up about a cup of the remaining zucchini flesh. (Whatever remains beyond a cup use for another purpose, discard, or compost.)
Cook the onions and garlic
You should have 1 tablespoon of fat in the pan (rendered from the sausage). If not, add more olive oil so that you have at least a tablespoon of fat in the pan, and heat on medium-high heat. Add the onions and cook until softened. Add the garlic and cook 30 seconds more.
Add the chopped zucchini and cook a minute or two more, remove from the skillet and add it to the bowl of sausage.
Make the stuffing
Add the rest of the stuffing ingredients to the sausage and onions.
Stuff the zucchini and bake
Place the zucchini halves in a baking dish and add the stuffing. (At this point you can make ahead, cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate until ready to bake.) Add 1/4-inch of water to the bottom of the pan, which will help zucchini cook evenly and prevent the bottom of it from drying out too much in the oven.
Bake at 375°F for 40 minutes. Let sit to cool briefly before serving.