This easy recipe incorporates Italian sausage, sweet basil, marinara sauce and cheese layered in cored, fresh zucchini. Tomato paste thickens the sauce for perfect bites. Just 8 ingredients.
These zucchini boats are low-carb, absolutely delicious, and are easy to make!
★ Why You'll Love this Recipe ★
With a prep time of just 10 minutes plus simmer and bake time, these stuffed zucchini boats are easy to pull off for a healthy and delicious dinner.
This a perfect dinner for summer months when zucchini is plentiful, however can be enjoyed year round.
This recipes incorporates Italian sausage, fresh basil and Rao's marinara sauce to create amazing flavor without a lot of effort.
★ Ingredients You'll Need ★
You'll need just 8 main ingredients plus salt and pepper.
Here's everything you'll need:
- Fresh zucchini. Long and slender zucchini works best as the filling is more consistent in texture and they are younger than overly large zucchini, so the skin will typically be softer. A small to medium size makes for a nice presentation as well.
- Italian sausage. You can use mild, spicy or sweet Italian sausage. Sweet Italian will have basil added so you may not need as much fresh basil if using this type.
- Marinara sauce. I always recommend Rao's sauces. They just make amazingly good tomato-based sauces and other brands can't compare. If you want the best flavor, choose Rao's. However, it's pricey. So if you can't swing $8 or so per jar, I get it. Try adding a tablespoon of olive oil to other brands of marinara to get a more elevated taste.
- Tomato paste. This isn't mandatory but it does help thicken the sauce which can be helpful as the zucchini can release moisture when cooked making the sauce watery. If you don't have this on hand, it's OK to skip it.
- Onion. Yellow onions are typical of Italian dishes but white onion also works.
- Garlic. I like to use garlic paste. You can use fresh or minced garlic if you prefer.
- Mozzarella cheese. Pre-shredded works great to save but fresh shredded is going to have a less powdery taste. Choose what works for you.
★ How to Make this Recipe ★
These oven-baked stuffed zucchini boats are simple to prep and come together in a few basic steps.
Here's a look as what's involved:
- Brown sausage.
- Scoop out zucchini filling and chop.
- Sauté onion and garlic, add tomato paste.
- Add back sausage and marinara sauce.
- Add zucchini filling and basil.
- Top zucchini with sauce then cheese and bake.
- Garnish and serve.
That's it. It's not difficult to pull off this healthy dinner.
★ Tips & FAQs ★
How do I store this recipe?
Store leftovers in an airtight container, in the fridge, for up to 3 days. Reheat using the microwave or toaster oven; heating just until warmed through.
Zucchini boats may become a bit softer after freezing, however you can freeze them for up to 3 months.
What substitutions I can make?
You can sub the Italian sausage for ground beef or ground turkey.
For a vegetarian options, try a plant-based "meat" in place of the sausage.
Can I prep this recipe ahead of time?
Yes. Make the sauce, omitting the zucchini filling up to 24 hours before serving. When ready to put together zucchini boats, scoop out and chop zucchini filling and add to sauce. Put together and bake according to directions.
What can I serve with these?
They Italian Sausage Zucchini Boats are great on their own but can be served with a side salad, and/or garlic bread to make a complete meal.
★ More Recipes You'll Love ★
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Italian Sausage Stuffed Zucchini Boats
- 24 oz marinara sauce
- 1 lb ground Italian sausage
- 6 zucchinis
- 2 tablespoon olive oil
- 1 teaspoon salt plus more to taste
- 1 teaspoon ground black pepper-
- 5 teaspoon garlic paste
- 1 medium onion diced
- 1 tablespoon tomato paste
- 1 ¾ cup shredded mozzarella cheese
- 2 tablespoon minced fresh basil divided
- Preheat oven to 400ºF. Prep two 9X13 baking dishes with cooking spray.
- Prep zucchini. Wash and dry, slicing each zucchini in half, lengthwise. Scoop out the filling with a spoon, finely chop the filling and place in a bowl for later. Place zucchini scoop-side up in a baking dish.
- In a large skillet set on medium high heat, add ground Italian sausage. Break up with a spatula and cook until no longer pink, about 5-7 minutes. Transfer sausage to a plate and set aside.
- Add olive oil into the skillet along with onion, garlic, salt, and pepper. Saute for 2-3 minutes until onion has softened. Add tomato paste, stir and cook for 1 minute. Next, add marinara, zucchini filling, and half of the fresh basil. Stir to combine and bring to a boil. Once boiling add in cooked sausage and simmer for 12-15 minutes. Once done, remove from heat.
- Scoop filling into zucchini boats. Top with mozzarella cheese and bake for 20-25 minutes or until cheese is completely melted.
- Garnish with remaining fresh basil and serve.