Zucchini boats are a tasty and healthy recipe to enjoy the wonderful flavor of zucchini. They are packed with a rich, savory filling made with lentils, tomatoes, herbs, and walnuts.

Our recipe contains no meat, and it’s suitable for most diets. Thanks to their robust flavor, you can serve them as a fulfilling meal or appetizer for most occasions.

zucchini boats on a serving platter

You’ll love these zucchini boats because they are easy to make, with simple ingredients, and have a rich and robust flavor without using meat.

The secret to the best zucchini boats is to use the scooped-out flesh of the zucchini as part of the stuffing.

To do so, it’s best to chop it up and cook it on a pan for a few minutes to remove excess moisture so that your boats won’t get wet and soggy.

We then add lentils, canned tomatoes, herbs, and walnuts to make a satisfying and flavorful filling with a beautiful texture.

And if you feel like something without tomatoes or lentils, you can make our quick and easy stuffed zucchini with ricotta and sun-dried tomato.

Easy zucchini boats on a platter

Ingredients & Substitutions

Zucchini boats ingredients

Zucchini

We make this recipe with zucchini squash (courgette in British English). Medium-sized is best to take some filling, but they are not so big that they take too long to cook in the oven.

Most zucchini varieties are suitable for this recipe, including globe zucchini, yellow crookneck, yellow squash, yellow zucchini, and grey zucchini. Pick your favorite!

Lentils

We use lentils to replace the meat commonly used in stuffed zucchini boats (Italian sausage, ground beef, and ground turkey or chicken).

Canned lentils are the quickest. However, you can also use dry lentils and cook them yourself first.

We recommend green and brown lentils as they keep their shape well.

You can replace lentils with beans, tempeh (see how to use it in this tempeh bolognese recipe), crumbled tofu (see how to use it in this tofu bolognese recipe), texturized vegetable protein (TVP), vegan meat replacements, and even mushrooms (see how to use them in this mushroom bolognese recipe).

Walnuts

Walnuts are great in this mixture because they add heart-healthy fats, wholesome plant-based protein, and texture to our filling.

Combined with the lentils, they make the filling hearty and meaty. But, of course, if you are allergic to nuts, you can leave them out.

Olive oil + Garlic + Onion

For a flavor base that will make the filling very tasty.

If you are on an oil-free diet, you can easily make this recipe without oil by gently frying the onion on low heat, in a dry pan, for a couple of minutes. Then add the garlic and the other ingredients. Onions contain natural oils that come out when heated.

Soy sauce

Use soy sauce to add a touch of umami (savory taste), richness, and meatiness to this mixture.

It helps create depth of flavor in meatless recipes. We use a reduced-sodium soy sauce.

Substitute tamari or coconut aminos to make the recipe gluten-free.

Tomatoes

Canned tomatoes are best for this zucchini boat recipe. We use crushed tomatoes. You can also use tomato puree or passata, diced tomatoes, or marinara sauce.

Dry herbs

Italian seasoning is your best bet because it contains a mix of dried herbs that go well with the stuffed zucchini.

Substitute dry or fresh basil, thyme, oregano, or other dried herbs for Italian seasoning.

If you like this recipe a little spicy, add a pinch of red pepper flakes or chipotle powder (chipotle also adds some smokiness).

Salt + Pepper

To add flavor and make everything taste good. We use sea salt and freshly ground black pepper.

Cheese

Cheese is optional. We recommend grated parmesan, a vegan parmesan cheese alternative, mozzarella cheese or vegan melty cheese, and cheddar or vegan cheese.

For a lighter option, you can make the stuffed zucchini boats without cheese, then drizzle them with yogurt or plant-based yogurt before serving them.

Yogurt adds freshness and moisture, and it’s delicious with this recipe.

Parsley

Sprinkle with chopped flat-leaf parsley just before serving. You can also use other fresh herbs such as cilantro, chives, dill, mint, basil, and finely sliced spring onions.

Lemon

We like to add a squeeze of lemon juice on top of our stuffed zucchini for an extra touch of freshness and acidity.

Easy zucchini boats

How to make zucchini boats

1. Make the boats

Wash and cut the zucchini in half lengthwise.

Scoop out some of the flesh of the zucchini and chop it finely with a knife or in a food processor. Also, finely chop onion and garlic.

Tip: It’s easiest if you hold the zucchini in your left hand and spoon out the flesh with your right hand. Try not to remove too much flesh. The zucchini boats should be sturdy enough to hold the filling without collapsing.

removing the zucchini flesh with a spoon

2. Make the filling

Preheat the oven to 400°F or 200°C.

In a large skillet, warm up a tablespoon of olive oil and gently fry the onion for 3 minutes, then add garlic and chopped zucchini pulp and cook for 5 minutes.

chopped zucchini flesh with garlic and onion

Add drained and rinsed lentils, chopped walnuts, crushed tomatoes, herbs, soy sauce, salt, and black pepper.

Simmer for 10 minutes on medium to low heat, stirring occasionally.

lentil, walnuts, and tomatoes for the filling

After 10 minutes, your filling should be rich, tasty, and thick. Taste and adjust for salt and spices.

filling for the zucchini boeats

3. Fill and Bake

Fill the zucchini shells with the lentil mixture and arrange them on a baking tray or baking dish.

Drizzle with olive oil and bake at 400°F or 200°C for about 25 minutes; sprinkle them with grated parmesan, and bake for 5 more minutes until the cheese melts.

zucchini boats on a baking sheet

Sprinkle with freshly chopped parsley or other fresh herbs and optionally a squeeze of lemon juice.

Easy zucchini boats

Note: Baking time depends on zucchini size and your taste. If you like tender-crisp zucchini with some bite, then 25 minutes is enough. For softer zucchini, bake a little longer.

Serving Suggestions

We eat stuffed zucchini boats as a main, with a simple side salad or a serving of boiled rice.

Other dishes that go well with zucchini boats are:

Variations

Stuffed zucchini with ricotta

stuffed zucchini with ricotta on a platter

Try out stuffed zucchini with ricotta (or non-dairy ricotta) and chopped sun-dried tomatoes for a delicious alternative to zucchini boats with lentils and tomatoes.

This recipe is even easier to make; it’s packed with flavor and light and is one of our favorite zucchini recipes.

Check out our stuffed zucchini recipe.

Roasted zucchini with breadcrumbs

roasted zucchini on a serving platter

This Italianinspired recipe for roasted zucchini is aromatic, juicy, and crispy.

It’s easy to make, and everyone at the table will love it.

Check out our roasted zucchini with breadcrumbs.

Add rice to the filling

Did you know you can add boiled rice to the stuffing to make an even more complete meal?

All you have to do is add 1 cup of boiled rice (whole grain rice is best) to the cooked lentil-tomato mix, stir well, and use it to stuff zucchini boats or other vegetables.

You can also use other types of grains or pseudo-grains in the stuffing. For example, try quinoa, buckwheat, amaranth, and barley.

More stuffed vegetables

Storage

Make ahead: this is an excellent recipe to make ahead as the zucchini boats keep well for a few days and also reheat pretty well in the microwave. So you can use them for meal prep and putlocks.

Refrigerator: store them in the fridge for 3 – 4 days. Keep them on a serving plate wrapped in film or an airtight container.

Reheat them in the microwave for about 2 minutes or in a preheated oven at 400°F or 200°C for about 10 minutes. You can add some extra grated cheese on top before reheating.

Freezer: you can assemble and freeze the zucchini boats before baking them. They keep for about three months in the freezer. Thaw them in the refrigerator for a few hours, then bake.

Frozen and thawed zucchini boats will have a different texture than fresh-baked zucchini. That’s because freezing changes the structure of the zucchini, making it a little softer.

Easy zucchini boats on a platter

More veggie-based dinners

Get more wholesome dinner ideas from these veggiepacked recipes:

More zucchini recipes

Love these stuffed zucchini boats? Then you might also enjoy these easy zucchini recipes:

For many more dinner ideas, check out our mains category page.

Zucchini boats

Zucchini Boats

By: Nico Pallotta
5 from 12 votes
Zucchini boats are a tasty and healthy recipe to enjoy the wonderful flavor of zucchini. They are packed with a rich, savory filling with lentils, tomatoes, herbs, and walnuts.
Our recipe contains no meat, and it's suitable for most diets. Thanks to their robust flavor, you can serve them as a fulfilling meal or appetizer for most occasions.
Prep Time: 10 minutes
Cook Time: 25 minutes
Filling: 15 minutes
Total Time: 50 minutes
Servings: 8 boats
Course: Appetizer, Main
Cuisine: International

Ingredients

  • 4 medium zucchini
  • 1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 medium onion finely chopped
  • 3 cloves garlic pressed or grated
  • 1 can (15 oz) lentils
  • ½ cup walnuts chopped
  • 1 can (15 oz) crushed tomatoes
  • 2 tablespoons soy sauce
  • ½ teaspoon dried oregano
  • 1 teaspoon salt or more to taste
  • 2 twists black pepper
  • 4 tablespoons grated parmesan or non-dairy cheese

Garnish

  • 1 tablespoon chopped parsley optional
  • ½ lemon optional

Instructions 

  • Wash and cut 4 medium zucchini in half lengthwise.
    Scoop out some of the flesh of the zucchini and chop it finely with a knife or in a food processor. Also, finely chop onion and garlic.
    removing the zucchini flesh with a spoon
  • Preheat the oven to 400°F or 200°C.
    In a large skillet, warm up 1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil and gently fry 1 medium onion (chopped) for 3 minutes, then add 3 cloves garlic (grated) and chopped zucchini pulp and cook for 5 minutes.
    chopped zucchini flesh with garlic and onion
  • Add 1 can (15 oz) lentils (drained and rinsed), ½ cup walnuts (chopped), 1 can (15 oz) crushed tomatoes, 2 tablespoons soy sauce, ½ teaspoon dried oregano, 1 teaspoon salt, and 2 twists black pepper.
    Simmer for 10 minutes on medium to low heat, stirring occasionally.
    lentil, walnuts, and tomatoes for the filling
  • After 10 minutes, your filling should be rich, tasty, and thick. Taste and adjust for salt and spices.
    filling for the zucchini boeats
  • Fill the zucchini shells with the lentil mixture and arrange them on a baking tray.
    Drizzle with olive oil and bake at 400°F or 200°C for about 25 minutes; then sprinkle them with grated parmesan, and bake for 5 more minutes until the cheese melts.
    zucchini boats on a baking sheet
  • Garnish with freshly parsley or and a squeeze of lemon juice.
    Easy zucchini boats

Video

Notes

Nutrition information is an estimate for one zucchini boat out of eight.
STORAGE
Make ahead: this is an excellent recipe to make ahead as the zucchini boats keep well for a few days and also reheat well in the microwave. You can use them for meal prep and putlocks.
Refrigerator: store them in the fridge for 3 – 4 days. Keep them on a serving plate wrapped in film or an airtight container.
Reheat them in the microwave for about 2 minutes or in a preheated oven at 400°F or 200°C for about 10 minutes.
Freezer: you can assemble and freeze the zucchini boats before baking them. They keep for about three months in the freezer. Thaw them in the refrigerator for a few hours, then bake.
Frozen and thawed zucchini boats will have a different texture than fresh-baked zucchini. That’s because freezing changes the structure of the zucchini, making it a little softer.
ALSO ON THIS PAGE

Nutrition

Calories: 218kcal, Carbohydrates: 29g, Protein: 12g, Fat: 7g, Saturated Fat: 1g, Polyunsaturated Fat: 3g, Monounsaturated Fat: 2g, Trans Fat: 0g, Cholesterol: 2mg, Potassium: 777mg, Dietary Fiber: 12g, Sugar: 6g, Vitamin A: 386IU, Vitamin B6: 0.5mg, Vitamin C: 29mg, Vitamin E: 1mg, Vitamin K: 19µg, Calcium: 90mg, Folate: 186µg, Iron: 4mg, Manganese: 1mg, Magnesium: 81mg, Zinc: 2mg
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Nico and Louise in the kitchen

Hi! We are Nico & Louise

Welcome to The Plant-Based School, a food blog with easy, tasty, and wholesome recipes.

Our aim is to help you and your family eat more veggies through delicious recipes with simple ingredients.

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Recipe Rating




6 Comments

  1. These were really delicious. Loved the flavours and also the texture of the chopped walnuts. I subbed chopped tomatoes for crushed and added a few hot pepper flakes for a little heat. So yummy, and not difficult to make at all. Love your recipes- bookmarked almost every one! Thanks!!

    1. Amazing, Nancy! I’m really happy you enjoyed the boats, it’s a great idea with hot pepper flakes for an extra kick 🙂
      Thank you for your kind message, it means a lot. All the best,
      Louise

  2. 5 stars
    Just made these today and these are phenomenal! I love that filling. Made exactly as written except I didn’t have parsley for garnish so I used my fresh basil chopped. So good! Thank you for the wonderful recipe!

    1. Hi Anna,
      I’m super happy you liked the boats. Good tip on the basil as a garnish, it sounds like a delicious meal 🙂
      Thanks for taking the time to leave a comment. Kindest,
      Louise