These stuffed zucchini boats are hearty and rich, making healthy look and taste delicous! Stuffed with a rich and meaty enchilada filling, smothered in sauce and cheese and baked until bubbly, these zucchini halves are the perfect way to enjoy your favorite Mexican dish, but with a lower carb count!
Recipes like my Keto Cobb Salad and Crockpot Minestrone Soup are great for when you’re eating healthier. We love lightening up our meals, and this is one of my Healthy Recipes you’ll definitely want in your recipe box!
It seems like everyone has this notion that when you’re eating a bit healthier, the food is boring, bland, and just NOT what you want to eat. But these enchilada stuffed zucchinis are packed with great flavor, and with a fraction of the carbs!
This recipe has quite a few different options, such as switching up the proteins, adding vegetables to the filling, using different sauces, and different cheeses.
Basically, think of this zucchini boat recipe as a method, that you can use to truly make this recipe your own!
HOW TO MAKE STUFFED ZUCCHINI
I love making this zucchini version of enchiladas, because you don’t have to roll any tortillas!
- Halve zucchini lengthwise, and scoop out the center, leaving about 1/2 an inch around the sides.
- Brush zucchini with oil and season. Bake until softened.
- Brown beef, onion and garlic. Drain.
- Return beef mixture to pan, add enchilada sauce and green chiles and simmer until thickened.
- Scoop enchilada filling mixture into zucchinis, top with leftover enchilada sauce, and cheese.
- Bake until tender and cheese is melted.
COOKING TIPS FOR ZUCCHINI BOATS
- Similar size – try to find zucchinis that are similar in size, so they’ll all become tender at the same time when baked.
- Be mindful of heat levels – there are several heat levels for diced green chiles and enchilada sauce, so be sure you’re getting the one you really want. The hot versions of them can be pretty spicy!
- Top it up – feel free to go crazy with the toppings on these enchiladas; green onions, sour cream, avocado, guacamole, chopped tomatoes, chopped onions, etc.
VARIATIONS OF THIS RECIPE
- Protein – instead of ground beef, try using ground turkey, diced chicken, steak bites, even pulled pork.
- Fillers – craving something extra in the filling? Try adding some black beans or corn to the filling mixture. I’ve found when I did this, I cut back on the meat so I didn’t end up with TONS of filling.
- Cheeses – I kept this simple and just used Mexican-blend cheese, but Colby-jack, Pepper-jack, Monterey-jack, or any combination are great substitutes.
- The sauce – store-bought enchilada sauces are the easiest route, and very readily available, but if you prefer to make your own sauce (SO good), scroll down to the bottom of this post and make my homemade version!
MAKING ZUCCHINI BOATS AHEAD OF TIME
This recipe can be pre-baked and assembled a day ahead of time.
Complete the recipe through step 6, then cool completely. Cover tightly and refrigerate.
When ready to eat, preheat oven to 400 F degrees, top zucchini boats with remaining enchilada sauce, and cheese, and bake as directed in step 7.
I don’t recommend freezing zucchini boats, as I’ve found they lose their texture and the zucchini gets mushy when thawed.
However, you CAN freeze the meat filling. Just cool it completely then freeze in an airtight container for several months.
Leftover zucchini boats can be kept refrigerated in an airtight container for a week, which makes this recipe great for meal prep!
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- 4 medium zucchini
- 1 tsp olive oil
- 1/4 tsp kosher salt
- 1/4 tsp black pepper
- 1 1/2 lbs ground beef (or turkey)
- 1 medium yellow onion, minced
- 2-3 cloves garlic, minced
- 2 1/2 tsp taco seasoning
- 19 oz red enchilada sauce (divided)
- 4 oz can diced green chiles drained
- 1/4 cup water
- 1 cup shredded Mexican-blend cheese
- Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Spray a 9x13 baking dish with nonstick cooking spray.
- Slice zucchini in half lengthwise and scoop out the middle of the vegetable with a spoon or melon baller, leaving about 1/2 inch along the outside creating a “boat.”
- Place zucchini in prepared baking dish and brush with olive oil. Sprinkle with salt and pepper. Cook for 10 minutes to soften.
- In a large skillet, add ground beef, onion and garlic. Cook until the beef is browned and the onion is soft. Drain.
- Return meat mixture to skillet and add taco seasoning as well as diced green chiles, 1/4 cup water, and half of the enchilada sauce. Bring to a boil and simmer for 5-10 minutes or until thickened and excess liquid is evaporated. Remove from heat.
- Spoon the beef mixture into the zucchini boats, pressing down to fill. Add extra mixture on top until the boats are overflowing slightly.
- Top the zucchini with the remaining enchilada sauce and add a layer of cheese.Bake for 15 to 20 minutes until the cheese is melted and zucchini is tender.
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The Chunky Chef is not a dietician or nutritionist, and any nutritional information shared is an estimate. If calorie count and other nutritional values are important to you, we recommend running the ingredients through whichever online nutritional calculator you prefer. Calories can vary quite a bit depending on which brands were used.