It’s zucchini season and we are enjoying it every way you can imagine. I’m trying to win a world record for incorporating zucchini into as many back-to-back meals as possible. I’ve been throwing shredded zucchini in our pancakes, making cheesy baked zucchini nuggets for lunch (recipe coming soon!), and we’ve made these enchilada zucchini boats no less than three times.
In the interest of full disclosure, my healthy-appetite-carb-loving family was a tad bit skeptical when we sat down to the dinner table the first time I served these. Everyone but me kind of looked around at each other in awkward silence as if to say, “Uh, do you think mom forgot the rest of the meal?” since often zucchini is a side dish for us. But I was doing the happy I Told You So dance after dinner when everyone had devoured their stuffed zucchini with declarations of love. Brian did gently remind me on the third day following that the I Told You So dance was getting kind of old (so I have issues letting things go, I’m ok with it).
Despite the zucchini base, this meal is not going to leave anyone hungry. The cute little zucchini boats are piled high with a warm saucy mixture loaded with lean ground meat, hearty beans and a smattering of flavorful spices. So, so, so good. The leftovers are quite possibly even better (I chopped through the leftovers with a sharp knife so the zucchini was in little pieces and enjoyed it like a big plate of sloppy but yummy zucchini enchilada hash). The success of this enchilada-style stuffed zucchini has kept me daydreaming about what other flavor combos could be stuffed inside the humble green squash successfully. I sense some experimentation happening very, very soon.
In case you are looking for other zucchini inspiration, here are a few of my favorite zucchini recipes! Zucchini: it’s what’s for dinner (and lunch and breakfast around here).
- 4 medium zucchini, halved
- 8-12 ounces lean ground turkey or ground beef (depends on how meaty you want this dish to be)
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 1/2 teaspoon black pepper
- 1/2 cup finely chopped onion
- 2 cloves garlic, finely minced or pressed
- 1 jalapeno, finely chopped (seeds and membrane removed if you want less heat)
- 16 ounces tomato sauce
- 1 tablespoon chili powder
- 2 teaspoons ground cumin
- 1 teaspoon granulated sugar
- 1 teaspoon dried oregano
- 1/2 teaspoon ground coriander
- 15-ounce can pinto beans, rinsed and drained
- 1-2 cups shredded Monterey Jack or cheddar cheese (or a combination)
- Chopped cilantro for garnish
- Preheat the oven to 425 degrees F.
- Scoop out the center of each zucchini, discarding the seeds and leaving the outer zucchini flesh about 1/4-inch thick, forming little zucchini boats. Sprinkle the cut side of each zucchini with a little bit of salt (a pinch for each zucchini half). Set aside while preparing the filling.
- In a large, 12-inch nonstick skillet, cook the ground turkey or beef over medium heat with the salt and pepper, breaking the meat into little pieces as it cooks. Once cooked all the way through, drain any excess grease, except for 1-2 teaspoons, and scrape the meat to a plate.
- Return the skillet to medium heat and add the onion, garlic and jalapeno. Cook the mixture until the onion has softened and turned translucent, 4-5 minutes.
- Stir in the tomato sauce, chili powder, cumin, sugar, oregano, and coriander. Bring the mixture to a simmer and cook for 5 minutes.
- Lightly grease a 9X13-inch baking pan with nonstick cooking spray. Ladle in about 1/3 cup of the sauce and spread across the bottom of the pan.
- Stir the cooked meat and beans into the remaining sauce in the skillet.
- Scoop an even amount of the meat and sauce mixture into each zucchini boat, piling it on.
- Cover the baking dish with a layer of lightly greased foil and bake for 15 minutes. Uncover and layer the cheese over the top. Bake for about 20 minutes more until the zucchini is fork tender.
- Sprinkle the chopped cilantro on top and let the zucchini enchilada boats rest for 5 minutes before serving.