Cooking Together

‘Cooking Together’: Zucchini Boats

Zucchini Boats 

By Shanta Nimbark Sacharoff

Zucchini is available all year in most parts of the United States. It is an easy vegetable to grow in the summer, even in the foggy parts of the San Francisco Bay Area. Once these summer squashes get growing, you will have so many that you will have to find new recipes. Good recipes can turn this vegetable into a centerpiece. 

Nutritionally, zucchini has a lot to offer. Zucchini contains a variety of vitamins, minerals and beneficial plant compounds. Zucchini is particularly high in vitamins A and C. The versatile vegetable contains several antioxidants that may have various health benefits. This squash can remedy various health conditions, such as lowering blood sugar level and blood pressure, and improving vision and bone health, according to some health research. This summer squash also contains a lot of water and fiber which helps digestion. So, let’s enjoy the bounty of the healthy zucchini!

This is an easy and fun recipe to make with children.  The boats can be stuffed with a variety of food items, using various techniques. You can even use left-over food such as rice or beans.  Here, the zucchini boats are filled with vegetables, bread crumbs and cheese or vegan cheese.

Photos by Shanta Nimbark Sacharoff.

4 small to medium size zucchini or 2 zucchini and 2 yellow summer squash
Water for steaming
2 to 3 tablespoons olive oil
¼ cup red bell pepper, sliced thin and then cut into small pieces
¼ cup green onion (scallion), finely chopped, including their green parts 
2 tablespoons minced parsley
¼ cup grated carrots
½ cup bread crumbs
Salt and freshly ground pepper to taste 
½ cup grated Parmesan cheese or grated vegan “cheese” alternative 

Rinse and cut the zucchini in half lengthwise. Set the open sides of the zucchini down in a steamer basket. Set the steamer basket in a covered pot with a small amount of water. Steam the zucchini for 8 to 10 minutes, enough to loosen the pulp, keeping the shells intact. Do not overcook. 

While the zucchini is steaming, heat the oil in a skillet and add the green onion and peppers and stir-fry for a minute. Add parsley leaves and carrots. Set the skillet with the vegetables aside.

Next, take out the squash halves from steamer and let them cool for a few minutes. Then, carefully, scoop out the inner pulp of the squash leaving about 1/2” thick shells intact. Set the zucchini boats aside. 

Gather the zucchini pulp, cut the pulp into tiny pieces and add them to the sauteed vegetables in the skillet. Add the bread crumbs to the skillet. Reheat the content of the skillet briefly. Add the salt and pepper. Transfer everything from the skillet into a mixing bowl and stir to mix. When the content of the skillet is cooled, stir in the grated cheese, reserving two tablespoons for later to sprinkle on top of the boats. 

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees.

Next, lightly rub a very small amount of oil inside and outside of zucchini halves. Then, divide the filling in eight portions and fill the zucchini halves with the stuffing mixture. Sprinkle the reserved cheese on top.  Set the boats onto a lightly oiled cookie sheet. Be careful to make sure the boats are standing and the stuffing is intact. Bake the boats for about 15 to 20 minutes until the top is lightly brown, but not burned. 

This dish is good served hot or at room temperature. Zucchini boats make a great item to pack into a picnic basket. You can serve the zucchini boats as appetizers. At a party, you can present the boats as hors d’oeuvres before the main courses are served. As a light dinner, you can serve two boats per person with a soup and a salad. Advise your diners that the boats (shells) are to be consumed as well as the stuffing. 

Makes 4 to 8 servings 

Recipes by Shanta Nimbark Sacharoff, copyright 2023. Shanta is a Sunset District resident and the author of “Cooking Together” and “Flavors of India,” both available at Other Avenues Food Store at 3930 Judah St. Shanta writes recipes and articles on food and nutrition. She also teaches vegetarian and vegan cooking classes and shares recipes via videos on YouTube.

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