By the end of summer, my garden-loving friends are usually begging me to take “just a few” zucchini off their hands. In fact, August 8th is National Zucchini Day, probably in an effort to get cooks thinking about ways to use the overwhelming amount of zucchini that comes with the late summer harvest. So what do we do with all of the zucchini that abounds this time of year? One of my favorites is zucchini boats!
Is it even possible to make a plant-based Italian Stuffed Zucchini Boat? When I think of Italian Stuffed Zucchini Boats, the first thing that comes to mind is cheesy, gooey, and sausage stuffed. We don’t want this when eating vegan or plant-based! These zucchini boats don’t use the fake meats or cheeses but you’ll still get all of the flavor. They are plant-based, vegan, and oil-free. They are perfect for meal prep or can be served as a main dish dinner with crusty bread and robust soup.
Making the zucchini boats vegan:
Since we aren’t using cheese in this recipe, a very important component will be the Italian Marinaded Chickpeas recipe. I’ve included the ingredients and directions in this recipe below, however, it is a stand-alone recipe that can be used for other things such as in salads or on pizza.
You’ll want to make the Italian Marinaded Chickpeas ahead of time – even the day before. Consider about 2-3 hours minimum to marinate before using in the zucchini boat recipe.
You will be topping this dish with some sort of vegan sausage crumbles. For a truly plant-based dish, forgo the fake vegan sausage and make my Sausage Tofu Crumbles instead. You’ll want to grab the recipe here and have it made ahead of time.
The Sausage Tofu Crumbles recipe is not included in the Italian Stuffed Zucchini Boat recipe below since it is optional.
Making the zucchini boats:
You will be using five zucchinis in this recipe. I always buy a couple of extra though, because I often end up ruining one when scooping out the flesh. Use medium-sized zucchinis. If you are meal prepping and wanting to fit the zucchini boats in a meal-prep container, then measure the length of your container before buying your zucchini, understanding that the zucchini is going to need to fit inside.
Cutting the zucchini:
Cut the zucchini in half lengthwise and then start carefully scooping out the flesh. I use the small end of a melon baller. (And this is the step during which I usually break a zucchini boat…)
Save the insides you scoop out. You will be using it later to stuff your zucchini. Set the scooped out zucchini halves in an extra-large prepared baking dish. Sauté the zucchini pieces with a little bit of vegetable broth, checking the pan and adding more if necessary. You will only be sautéing for 5 minutes – not to make it mushy but to just take the crunch off. If there is any liquid remaining in the pan, drain it off and discard.
Sauté the zucchini pieces with a little bit of vegetable broth, checking the pan and adding more if necessary. You will only be sautéing for 5 minutes – not to make it mushy but to just take the crunch off. If there is any liquid remaining in the pan, drain it off and discard.
De-seed and dice two Roma tomatoes and set aside. You will need to deseed them, otherwise your zucchini boats will be seedy and soggy.
Mash the chickpeas up some, leaving many of them whole or mostly whole. You aren’t making hummus after all and will want it a little chunky.
Add the mashed chickpeas, diced tomatoes, and tahini to the pan with sautéed zucchini and mix well. After mixing, sprinkle the panko bread crumbs on top and then fold in. The recipe calls for 1/3 cup panko bread crumbs. If the mixture is still soggy and runny, add more breadcrumbs. The mixture should loosely hold its shape when pressed together.
Stuffing and cooking the zucchini boats:
Carefully stuff and mound mixture into each zucchini boat. Cook uncovered in a 350° oven for 35 minutes or until heated through. Take out of the oven and cover each boat with a pasta sauce of choice. I usually just buy a compliant marinara sauce. If you would like to make your own, try this recipe for homemade pasta sauce. It is oil-free and sugar-free.
Sprinkle the vegan sausage crumbles on top and return to the oven for 10 more minutes or until sauce is heated.
Serve right away or to use in a meal prep dish, carefully placing two zucchini boats into each meal prep container.
Sprinkle with vegan parmesan cheese if desired. You can quickly make my vegan parmesan cheese recipe with raw cashews and nutritional yeast.
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The Recipe for Italian Stuffed Zucchini Boats:
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Italian Stuffed Zucchini Boats
Italian Marinated Chickpea Salad
- 1/4 cup red wine vinegar
- 1 teaspoon agave nectar
- 2 teaspoons Italian seasoning
- 1/2 teaspoon onion powder
- 1 teaspoon garlic powder
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 1 Tablespoon nutritional yeast
- 1 15.5 ounce can chickpeas drained
- 1/4 cup roasted red peppers from a jar, chopped
- 5 zucchinis medium, halved lengthwise
- 1/4 cup vegetable broth more if necessary
- 2 roma tomatoes deseed and diced
- 1/3 cup panko breadcrumbs
- 2 cups marinara sauce
- 1 cup Sausage Tofu Crumbles
- vegan parmesan cheese sprinkled on top
Italian Marinated Chickpea Salad
- Combine marinade, chickpeas, and roasted red peppers together. Put into an airtight container and let marinade for 2-3 hours.
- Heat oven to 350°. Prepare an extra large baking pan by spritzing the bottom with oil or use a silicon baking pan.
- Slice zucchinis in half lengthwise. With the small end of a melon baller, carefully scoop out insides, setting aside to use later. Set the scooped out zucchini halves into an extra large prepared baking pan.
- Line a saute pan with vegetable broth and sauté zucchini for about 5 minutes. Add more broth to keep pan from sticking. When finished, drain any remaining liquid.
- Mash around the marinated chickpeas, leaving some whole or almost whole.
- Add mashed chickpeas, diced and deseeded tomatoes, and tahini to pan and stir to combine.
- Sprinkle breadcrumbs on top and incorporate allowing breadcrumbs to absorb liquid. If it is still a little runny then add more breadcrumbs.
- Spoon mixture into mounds on zucchini halves.
- Cook in 350° oven for 35 minutes.
Finishing It Up
- Take out of oven and top with marinara sauce and vegan sausage crumbles. Put back into oven for 10 minutes. Top with vegan parmesan cheese.