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vegetarian stuffed zucchini recipe Italian

Ciao Friends, 

In this recipe post I’m sharing a super easy vegetarian stuffed zucchini recipe that is full of delicious flavors and doesn’t end up a pile of baked mush! 

While there are multiple ways and variations to make stuffed zucchini, my version shows you how to make Italian stuffed zucchini in a snap. 

Ingredients You’ll Need for Italian Stuffed Zucchini (Courgette)

As I stated, this recipe is Italian-style, so I  use standard ingredients found in Italian cooking.  My version is also meatless.   You can certainly alter the recipe to include beef, but I personally prefer it meatless.  

The ingredients you’ll need are simple and can be found at any local grocery store. 

  • Medium zucchini (courgette)
  • Onion
  • Tomato
  • Garlic
  • Breadcrumbs
  • Italian cheese (Romano or Parmesan)
  • Olive oil
  • Salt and pepper (optional)

Skip my tips and go straight to printable version of recipe:  Jump to Recipe

Here’s How to Make my Meatless Stuffed Zucchini

Simply take 3 medium zucchini’s and cut off the ends with the stem and then slice them lengthwise so you end up with 6 halves. 

You hollow out the zucchini and save zucchini and zucchini pulp for later.  Make sure to chop it up. 

hollowed out zucchini

Then chop up 3/4 cup of onion and 3/4 cup tomato and a chopped clove of garlic.  Add it to the bowl of chopped zucchini. 

mix in bowl

Next you heat up about 3 Tablespoons of olive oil in a saute pan over medium, then transfer the ingredients in the bowl to the saute pan and saute for 5-6 minutes.   It will seem like a lot at first, but it will cook down some, so don’t worry that you’ll have too much. 

You can also add the salt and pepper if you want, but frankly it is not even needed at all.  

Then you transfer the mixture from the saute pan back to a bowl and add in 1/2 cup of breadcrumbs and 1/2 cup of cheese and basil (not pictured). 

cheese and breadcrumbs and basil

Fill each of the zucchini shown below, brush or drizzle on a little olive oil on top and bake in an oven proof pan for 40-50 minutes at 375F.   

stuffed zucchini ready for oven

What Herbs to Use that go well with Baked Zucchini?

My version of stuffed zucchini uses only basil.  However, you can add a mixture of herbs such as oregano and parsley too if you want.  I like the simplicity of the fresh basil with the tomatoes and zucchini but that’s also personal preference.   

One tip, make sure to add some basil on top when serving, along with a sprinkling of cheese. 

Can You add Meat to the Mixture?

Yes, you can add meat like ground beef sausage to this recipe if you wanted to.   If you do, I would cook the meat along with the onions until the meat is fully cooked, then proceed with the rest of the recipe. 

While for my stuffed cubanelle peppers recipe I stuff them raw and let everything cook together in the oven, I DO NOT recommend that with this recipe.  Precook the meat in the saute pan first then stuff the zucchini and bake.

Get Creative, Add in other Ingredients:

While I like to keep my recipes very simple, you can certainly get as creative as possible when choosing ingredients to stuff your zucchini. 

Here are some ideas:

  • mushrooms
  • eggplant
  • shrimp
  • beef (pre-cooked)
  • sausage (Pre-cooked)
  • squash
  • red onion
  • lentils (pre-cooked)
  • barley (pre-cooked)
  • rice (pre-cooked)

Do you Cover the Zucchini While Baking?

No, you don’t.   

Zucchini has lots of moisture already and you don’t want to trap that steam, you want it to be released.  If you do it will make the stuffed zucchini really mushy and we don’t want that.   

What you want is for the zucchini to still hold it’s form (but not stiff) when you serve it.   So the zucchini should be able to pierce it with a fork, and you can even use a knife to cut it, although probably not totally necessary. 

Do you Peel the Zucchini?

No, you want the skin to be left on.  

What Kind of Zucchini is Best?

Any kind.  Black beauty is good, or any other.   

I’ve talked about in the past Italian zucchini where the skin is a really really pale green. I’m not sure what the actual name is as I got the seeds from my in-laws.   That zucchini is much more mellow in flavor and it still tastes amazing.

Do You Have to Saute the Mixture First?

No, but I do to mix the flavors and get rid of some of the water content. 

Plus I don’t like risking having crunchy onions that didn’t cook properly because of dicing them too large or for whatever reason.  

For the extra 5 minutes I think it’s well worth the effort. 

Can you Freeze Stuffed Zucchini?

I haven’t so I can’t say if it works, but you could.  I’d freeze them pre-cooked, or partially cooked.   The problem is that if you let them thaw and sit they may get soggy, and you want to avoid that. 

So maybe just try baking them when you take them out of the freezer, just keep an eye on the time as it will take longer. 

Can you Make this Recipe the Day Before?

Yes, why not?  You could also just prep all the ingredients including the hollowed out zucchini boats and that alone will save you some time the day of serving. 

Here’s the Recipe so you can print it out:

Meatless Stuffed Zucchini

I love this Italian recipe for meatless stuffed zucchini! It is not only easy, but also healthy, light yet filling, and loaded with so much flavor! I've used it as a side dish and as the main recipe for dinner. You and your family will love it!

Course Dinner, Lunch, Side Dish
Cuisine Italian
Keyword Easy Vegetarian Stuffed Zucchini
Prep Time 15 minutes
Cook Time 50 minutes
Servings 6 people

Ingredients

  • 3 medium zucchini
  • 3 tbsp olive oil
  • 3/4 cup chopped onion
  • 3/4 cup chopped tomato
  • 1/4 cup grated Romano cheese
  • 1/4 cup breadcrumbs
  • 1/4 tbsp chopped fresh basil

Instructions

  1. Cut off the end stems of the zucchini

  2. Hollow out the zucchini and chop what you've scooped out including any pulp and set aside in bowl

    hollowed out zucchini
  3. Chop 3/4 cup of onion and add to bowl

    chopped onions
  4. Chop 3/4 cup of fresh tomato and add to bowl

    chopped tomatoes
  5. Dice up the garlic and add to bowl

    chopped garlic
  6. Heat 2 tablespoons of olive oil in a medium saute or frying pan

    heat oil
  7. Add mixture to saute pan, stir and saute for 5-6 minutes

  8. When finished, return mixture to bowl and add the breadcrumbs, cheese and basil

    cheese and breadcrumbs and basil
  9. Fill the zucchini with the mixture and brush a little olive oil on top

    stuffed zucchini ready for oven
  10. Bake uncovered at 375 40-50 minutes

  11. Serve warm or cold, sprinkle with more fresh basil and cheese and enjoy!

Recipe Notes

  1. Don't let the zucchini become too mushy when baking, you want it a little firm, but even still don't worry if you over cook it - it is great!
  2. This recipe goes great with a side dish of pasta and fresh artisan bread!

What Does this Recipe Go Well With? 

Zucchini always pairs well with:

Easy Vegetarian Stuffed Zucchini Recipe - Italian Style