Make zucchini boats before summer sails away

Julie Falsetti
For The York Dispatch

No matter what you may have heard, it’s all fake news. Yes, I was running down the street with zucchini in my hands chasing a car. But all is not what it seems.

My friend had requested the zucchini, but after a long chat had forgotten to take them, hence the car chase.

Zucchini season is winding down. One plant has met its demise, but two others are holding their own. There is still time for one more zucchini recipe before the cloud of pumpkin pie spice envelops us.

Zucchini boats are a fast preparation that will appeal to the whole family. Filled with a savory meat mixture and topped with cheese, they are a low-carb version of pizza. Even zucchini haters will become converts.

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Zucchini boats are very versatile. Think of the hollowed-out shell as a blank canvas. Ground beef is one choice for filling, but sausage or ground turkey would work as well. For a vegetarian version, beans or your favorite grain are also good choices. You can change up the seasonings for a Mexican or Middle Eastern flavor.

The zucchini boats can be made ahead of time, and baked later. I usually allot two per person. The only caveat is that you need to use young zucchini. Save the baseball bats for zucchini bread.

Zucchini boats are versatile bases for a variety of flavorful fillings. Use smaller zucchini, and allot about two boats per person for a meal.

Zucchini Boats

  • 4 medium zucchini, about 8 inches long
  • 1/2 pound lean ground beef
  • 2 tablespoons vegetable oil
  • 1 medium onion, diced
  • 1 red or green bell pepper, diced
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 cup tomatoes, peeled and chopped
  • 1 tablespoon fresh basil, chopped
  • 1 cup shredded mozzarella cheese

Cut the zucchini in half lengthwise, and trim the stem ends. Using a spoon, hollow out the seeds and some of the flesh.

In a medium size skillet, fry the ground beef until browned. Season with salt and pepper. Remove the ground beef and reserve. Remove any leftover grease, and add 2 tablespoons vegetable oil. Over medium heat, saute the onions, pepper and garlic for about 8 minutes. Add the tomatoes and basil, and cook until the mixture thickens a bit. Mix in the ground beef. Taste for salt and pepper, and let cool slightly.

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. Fill each zucchini boat with the meat mixture. Top with the shredded mozzarella. Place the boats into a lightly greased casserole so that they fit snugly. Bake for about 30 minutes or until the cheese is golden brown and the zucchini are tender.

— Julie Falsetti, a York native, comes from a long line of good cooks. Her column, From Scratch, runs twice monthly in The York Dispatch food section. Reach her with questions and comments at julietrulie11@gmail.com.