Pesto Stuffed Zucchini

Ginormous zucchini in your garden? Try this recipe, hollowed out zucchini, stuffed with basil pesto, fresh croutons, Mozzarella, pine nuts and cherry tomatoes.

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


  • 2 cups of day old cubed bread*
  • 1 tablespoon butter
  • 2 tablespoons 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.


1 Toast croutons: 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 Toast pine nuts: 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 Combine croutons, Mozzarella, pesto, Parmesan, tomatoes, pine nuts: 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.

4 Stuff the zucchini boats: Heat 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.**

pesto-stuffed-zucchini-method-1 pesto-stuffed-zucchini-method-2

5 Bake in oven: 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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  • Heather

    I discovered a zucchini bat hiding in my garden. 4.5lbs! I doubled the recipe. On one half I also added ground hot Italian sausage crumbles to your recipe. The other half no sausage. I have to say that both sides were amazing!! This recipe is definitely a keeper. Thank you!


  • 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!

  • 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!

  • 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.

  • 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!

  • 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.

  • 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

  • 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.

  • 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

  • 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.

    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

  • 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!

  • Inez

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

    I don’t see why not! ~Elise