Zucchini Boats with ground chicken

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These zucchini boats embody what I call a perfect family dish. This recipe is easy, made with few ingredients, adaptable, tasty, and appealing to kids and adults.

Somehow these zucchini boats always bring a good dynamic to the family table. There must be something about stuffed veggies that make them look less like “eat-your-greens”-type of veggies, and more like an appealing container for something yummy. Go figure. All I know is that this recipe is a family favorite for weekday dinners and I hope it will have the same success with your family.

A few lines about this recipe:

  • This dish is low carb, high in lean protein, packed with veggies, and gluten-free.
  • The filling is made with ground chicken, garlic, onion, the flesh of the zucchinis, and (jarred) tomato sauce.
  • Towards the end, the boats are topped with cheese of your choice. I usually use parmesan or Gouda (famous Dutch cheese), but you could try mozzarella or cheddar as well.
  • This dish can be eaten on its own as it delivers everything you need in one meal: protein from the chicken and cheese, carbs and fiber from the veggies, and some healthy fats from the olive oil.
  • Should you like a heartier version, you can always make brown or black rice, quinoa, or potatoes on the side. If you like, you can even cut potatoes is small cubes and add them to the baking dish.
  • Feel free to use ground turkey, lamb, or beef if you prefer.
  • For a vegetarian dish you can substitute the meat for ground tofu or quinoa. Click here for my stuffed peppers with quinoa and mushrooms recipe.
  • The first time you carve out the zucchini halves it might take you a little bit longer, but once you’ve made this recipe a few times, it’ll come together in less than 10 minutes (+ about 30 minutes baking).

Time-saving tip: whenever I make these zucchini boats, I double the minced chicken filling and serve it with whole wheat pasta or zucchini noodles a few days later. “Cook once, eat twice”, a winning formula for us busy families.

 A few zucchini health facts:

Zucchini is so versatile I bet many of you often have one or two in the fridge. And a huge benefit for busy nights, they’re ready in a flash and taste great raw as well (grated or spiralized for instance).

Zucchini offers lots of health benefits:

  • It's high in fiber and antioxidants which help slow down aging and prevent diseases. Keep in mind though that most of the antioxidants and fiber are located in the skin, so don’t peel them.
  • Zucchini is rich in B-complex vitamins, folate, B6, B1, B2, B3, and choline
  • It contains essential minerals like zinc and magnesium, which help regulate blood sugar, and potassium which is good for the heart and blood pressure
  • Zucchini contains 95% water!

Should you buy organic zucchini?

Although zucchini doesn’t feature on the Dirty Dozen list, it hasn’t made it to the clean fifteen list either. It’s somewhere in between, but way closer to the Dirty Dozen. Therefore I recommend buying zucchini organic whenever possible.

For more info about what to buy organic or not, read my Ultimate Guide to Shopping Organic.

 

Prep time:

10 mins

Baking Time:

30-35 mins

 

Serves

4

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 Ingredients

  • 2 large or 4 small zucchini
  • Olive oil
  • 500 g minced chicken (or turkey, beef, or lamb)
  • 400-500 g tomato sauce (use a high quality organic sauce, no added sugar)
  • Fresh or frozen parsley (optional)
  • 2 cloves garlic, crushed
  • 1 large onion, minced
  • Cheese of your choice (parmesan, Gouda, cheddar, mozzarella, …)
  • Salt & pepper to taste

Directions

  1. Preheat the oven to 190° C (375° F)
  2. Prepare the boats: cut the edges off the zucchini and cut in half lengthwise. Using a spoon, scoop out the flesh from the center.
  3. Chop the scooped out flesh and set aside.
  4. Cover the bottom of your oven dish with a thin layer of tomato sauce.
  5. Prepare the filling: heat a few spoons of olive oil on medium heat and add the crushed garlic, minced onion, and parsley. Sauté for a few minutes. Add the ground chicken, chopped zucchini, salt and pepper, and sauté over medium heat for about 5 minutes or until the chicken is cooked through. Now add the tomato sauce (all of the remaining sauce, or less, depending on how much tomato sauce you want in the filling). Stir well, taste and add more salt and/or pepper if desired.
  6. Stuff the zucchini boats with the chicken mixture
  7. Cover the zucchini boats with aluminum foil and bake for about 30 minutes. You want the zucchini to be baked through but still have a bite
  8. Add the cheese and bake uncovered for another 5-10 minutes, until the cheese has melted and forms a nice crust
  9. Serve as they are or with brown or black rice, quinoa, or baked or mashed potatoes