Italian Sausage Stuffed Zucchini Boats

You know it must be summer when the zucchini plants go wild, producing more than it seems possible to cook! Italian Sausage Stuffed Zucchini Boats are a great tasting way to take advantage of this abundant summer veg.

You know summer has officially arrived when the markets (and the garden) are absolutely full of zucchini. I love cooking with zucchini, as their creamy, delicate sweetness is the perfect partner for big, bold Italian flavours. 

One of the best ways to cook these delicious summer vegetables is to make Italian Sausage Stuffed Zucchini Boats. This low carb recipe is so easy and flavoursome, and truly makes summer zucchini the star of the show.

Italian Sausage Stuffed Zucchini in a baking dish with fresh basil and a serving spoon.

What are Zucchini Boats?

SO GOOD! Seriously though, zucchini boats are made by first splitting zucchini lengthways and scooping out the flesh. These zucchini ‘boats’ (they look just like dugout canoes!) are then stuffed with a mouthwatering mixture of Italian style sausage and fresh herbs.

To make a good thing even better, the whole lot is then smothered with tomato sauce and gooey mozzarella cheese and baked to golden, cheesy perfection. Yum.

an easy-breezy crowd pleaser.

Zucchini boats, especially with this tasty stuffing, are a great quick and easy summer dinner. They have all the delicious flavours of a great bolognese or lasagne but come together super quickly. 

You can make this recipe up in advance and simply warm it through before serving, so it is brilliant for summer entertaining. If you’re anything like me, I’d rather be chatting to my guests with a cold glass of wine in hand than slaving over a hot stove.

4 photos from top left, zucchini, Italian sausages, scooping flesh from zucchini and making the filling.

Got giant zucchini on your hands? Stuffed Zucchini boats to the rescue!

This is the perfect recipe to make the most of them! Zucchini are sweetest and best when they are around 20cm / 8 in. long. Any bigger and they can start to dry out a little on the inside.

Because that flesh is scooped out and cooked with the other flavourings in this recipe, it’s a great way to use zucchini that have suddenly grown into giants overnight.

Filled unbaked zucchini boats.

What are the best sausages to use for stuffed zucchini boats?

I like to use coarse Italian-style pork sausages for recipes like this as they are packed with flavour. This is a great shortcut in the kitchen as you get loads of deliciousness with very little effort. (I use the same trick in my super speedy Pork and Fennel Ragu recipe).

 If you can’t get Italian-style sausages, you can use minced or ground pork or other meat (turkey is great). You can even make this a vegetarian dish with lentils, chickpeas or chopped mushrooms. This is a flexible recipe, so mix things up depending on what you have in the house.

Italian Sausage Stuffed Zucchini on a plate.

What to serve with Zucchini Boats?

There is so much tasty sauce with these zucchini boats, you definitely need something to mop it up. I like to serve them with fresh bread (focaccia soaks up those juices wonderfully). If you want a nice, hearty salad on the side I’d recommend my Orzo and Pepper Salad or a deliciously chewy Farro Salad.

Zucchini vs. Courgette – is there a difference?

I actually grew up calling zucchini by their French name ‘courgette’. The Italian word zucchini is more common in U.S. English, whereas in the U.K and Commonwealth we are more likely to say courgette. Despite the different names, it is exactly the same tasty vegetable.

more zucchini recipes

Zucchini are so prolific, producing up to 5kg or 10 lb. of zucchini per plant over the summer, so it’s worthwhile having a few recipes in your back pocket to use the all up!

How about a tasty Zucchini and Feta Pizza? If you’ve got zucchini plants of your own, you definitely have to try my Ricotta Stuffed Zucchini Flowers! Got loads of summer vegetables? Try my Summer Roast Vegetable Salad. It’s packed with loads of health veg and is delicious warm or cold.

Italian Sausage Stuffed Zucchini in a serving dish.

FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS

I don’t have any sausages, can I use Ground or Minced meat instead?

Of course you can! I’d recommend using ground or minced pork, though you could use beef or turkey too. u003cstrongu003eYou’ll need to add some flavouring to the meat as sausages are already pre-seasonedu003c/strongu003e. Salt and pepper to start, as well as some Italian herbs like oregano or fennel.

I can’t get any tomato passata. Is there an alternative?

Sure! You can puree tinned tomatoes in the food processor, or if you want to cheat, use a good quality pasta sauce from the jar. If you are using commercial pasta sauce leave out the sugar and add salt to taste. Fancy making your own delicious tomato sauce? Try my recipe for Slow Roasted Tomato Sauce!

Can I make vegetarian stuffed zucchini Boats?

Definitely! You can either use a vegetarian mince substitute or better yet, some cooked lentils, chickpeas or finely chopped mushrooms in place of the sausage meat. You’ll need to adjust seasoning to taste.

Italian Sausage Stuffed Zucchini Boats with cherry tomatoes, melted mozzarella and fresh basil.
Italian Sausage Stuffed Zucchini Boats with cherry tomatoes, melted mozzarella and fresh basil.

Italian Sausage Stuffed Zucchini Boats

Jay Wadams
You know it must be summer when the zucchini plants go wild, producing more than it seems possible to cook! Italian Sausage Stuffed Zucchini Boats are a great tasting way to take advantage of this abundant summer veg.
5 from 8 votes
Prep Time 10 minutes
Cook Time 45 minutes
Total Time 55 minutes
Serves 4

Ingredients
 

  • 4 medium zucchini or 2 large
  • 1 Tbsp olive oil
  • 500 g Italian style pork sausages, skins removed
  • 500 g 2 cups tomato passata, (U.S: tomato sauce)
  • 1 tsp sugar
  • 1 tsp sea salt
  • 1 tsp dried oregano
  • ½ tsp chilli flakes
  • freshly ground black pepper
  • 2-3 cloves garlic, crushed
  • 1 Tbsp balsamic vinegar
  • 50 g Parmesan cheese, grated
  • small bunch fresh oregano
  • 200 g cherry tomatoes, halved
  • 1 ball fresh mozzarella, drained and torn into chunks
  • 125 g grated cheddar or Monterey Jack cheese, optional

Instructions
 

  • PREPARE: Heat the oven to 180°C / 350°F / Gas 4. Halve the zucchini lengthways and use a teaspoon to scrape the flesh from the centre of the zucchini to make room for the stuffing. Finely chop the zucchini flesh and set aside.
  • SAUTÉ THE SAUSAGE: Heat the olive oil in a large frying pan, remove the skins from the sausages and fry the sausage meat, using a wooden spoon to break it up into small pieces. Cook until the sausage is well browned, around 5 minutes. While the sausage is cooking, stir together the tomato passata with the sugar, salt, oregano, chilli flakes and few grinds of black pepper.
  • REDUCE THE STUFFING: Add the chopped zucchini to the pan along with the garlic and balsamic vinegar and cook for a further 10 minutes until the zucchini is softened and all of the liquid has evaporated. Stir through half of the tomato sauce and the Parmesan, then remove from the heat and set aside to cool slightly.
  • ASSEMBLE AND BAKE: Lay the zucchini in an ovenproof dish with the cut sides facing up, then divide the sausage mixture evenly between the zucchini. Pour over the remaining sauce, scatter over the fresh oregano and cherry tomatoes, then bake in the preheated oven for 30 minutes.
  • ADD THE CHEESE: After 30 minutes, remove from the oven, scatter over the mozzarella and cheddar (if using) and return to the oven until bubbling and melted, 7-10 minutes.
  • SERVE: Serve with rice, couscous, pasta or crusty white bread.

Notes

If you love garlic, go right ahead and load these bad boys up with as much as you like!

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Nutrition

Serving: 1zucchini boat | Calories: 671kcal | Carbohydrates: 18g | Protein: 35g | Fat: 52g | Saturated Fat: 20g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 6g | Monounsaturated Fat: 21g | Trans Fat: 0.3g | Cholesterol: 130mg | Sodium: 2410mg | Potassium: 1353mg | Fiber: 4g | Sugar: 12g | Vitamin A: 1759IU | Vitamin C: 57mg | Calcium: 441mg | Iron: 4mg
Tried this recipe?Leave a review or a star rating and let me know how it was! Use the hashtag #daysofjay on Instagram so I can see your delicious creations.
Course | Main Course
Cuisine | Italian
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Jay Wadams
Jay Wadams

Jay Wadams is a cookbook author, food photographer and Le Cordon Bleu Gastronomy and Nutrition graduate. Based in Italy 🇮🇹 Germany 🇩🇪 and Australia 🇦🇺.

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