Dinner/ meat/ mexican and tex-mex

Mexican zucchini boats

12 February 2021 | Last Updated: 15 February 2021 By Aleksandra

These Mexican zucchini boats make an easy, delicious dinner that is packed with flavor. It features colorful vegetables, well-spiced ground meat, all baked in zucchini shells under melted gooey cheese. This low-carb Tex-Mex-inspired dinner can be easily frozen and reheated.

Mexican zucchini boats in a white baking pan topped with cilantro.

Ingredients:

  • Meat – I prefer to use a mix of ground pork and beef – it’s more flavorful (but also fattier) than just ground beef. You can use only ground beef if you wish. If you want to go the healthy route – use ground turkey.
  • Zucchini – it’s a perfect vessel for our aromatic filling. Nothing goes to waste – the center of zucchinis is scooped out then cooked until reduced in volume and added to the filling. Cooking down the zucchini flesh increases a bit the preparation time so if you in a hurry you can omit adding the remaining zucchini flesh to the dish. Instead of discarding it, you could add it to a green smoothie!
  • Vegetables – I used bell pepper, corn, canned tomatoes, and kidney beans (or black beans). This recipe uses 1/2 of a can of corn and beans. You can use the other half to make vegetarian quesadillas.
  • Spices – I used my homemade Fajita seasoning. This is a really amazing spice mix that goes well with so many dishes! You only need 6 spices to make it, which you probably already have in your pantry (chili powder, cumin, paprika, garlic, onion, oregano). If you make this seasoning, you can also use it to make Vegetarian Quesadillas, Chicken Fajita Quesadillas, Chicken Fajita Pasta, and Sheet Pan Chicken Fajitas. You can also use store-bought Fajita seasoning, but they are often of very poor quality and contain many artificial ingredients and sugar, instead of just spices. If you use a store-bought spice mix, remember to check the ingredients list, salt and pepper are often added so make sure to season the filling just very lightly! Instead of Fajita seasoning, you can use Taco seasoning – it’s very similar in taste.
  • If you don’t want to make a whole batch of my Fajita seasoning, you can add to this recipe: 2 teaspoons chili powder, 1 teaspoon paprika, 1 teaspoon onion powder, 1 teaspoon garlic powder, 1 teaspoon oregano, 1 teaspoon cumin. Please note that the chili powder is a spice mix, not pure chili!
  • Cheese – I used sharp cheddar. You can also use a Mexican cheese blend.
Labeled ingredients needed to prepare Mexican zucchini boats.

How to make it differently:

  • Make it vegetarian: You can make this dish vegetarian, just omit the meat. You can add cooked rice or quinoa instead!
  • You could also use this filling to stuff bell peppers (omit the bell pepper in the filling)!
  • Add some heat: there are already dried chilies in the spice mix but this dish is not overly spicy. If you would like to increase the heat, just add more cayenne pepper/chili flakes/chopped fresh chilies to the filling.

How to make it step by step:

The center of a zucchini is being scooped out. Chopped vegetables on a chopping board.

STEP 1: Cut the zucchini in half lengthwise, don’t trim off the stem ends (the ‘boats’ will hold their shape better). Use a teaspoon to carefully scoop the flesh out of the zucchinis (scoop out a lot of the flesh, leaving about 1/4-inch (5mm) border on all sides). Reserve the scooped-out flesh.

STEP 2: Chop the zucchini flesh roughly with a knife, squeeze out excess water. Dice the bell paprika and onion, chop the garlic very finely.

Sauteed vehetables in a pan.

STEP 3: Heat the oil in a large frying pan over medium-low heat. When hot add the bell pepper and onion. Cook, stirring from time to time, for about 3-4 minutes, or until the onion is soft. Add the garlic and cook for 30 seconds more. Add reserved zucchini flesh.

STEP 4: Cook for about 10 minutes over medium-high heat or until most of the moisture is evaporated (zucchini should reduce its volume a lot or the filling won’t fit into the boats).

Sauteed vegetables and ground meat in the pan. Ground meat and vegetables in tomato sauce in the pan.

STEP 5: Add ground meat and Fajita seasoning, cook for a couple of minutes over high heat or until the meat is no longer pink.

STEP 6: Add the crushed tomatoes, corn, and beans. Cook for a couple of minutes. Season with salt and pepper to taste.

Zucchini boats filled with meat filling. Cheese is being sprinkled over zucchini boats.

STEP 7: Fill the zucchini boats with the sauce. Place the zucchini on a baking sheet and bake for 30 minutes (baking time may vary depending on the thickness of the zucchini boats, zucchini should be tender but still a little bit crunchy).

STEP 8: Take the baking sheet out of the oven and sprinkle the zucchini boats with shredded cheese. Broil for about a couple of minutes or until the cheese is melted (if you don’t have this setting you can turn on grill or fan setting or just bake the zucchinis 10 minutes longer until the cheese is melted).

Drizzle zucchini boats with lime juice.

Enjoy!

What to serve it with:

I think this dish is a great stand-alone main dish (it’s low-carb, but very filling!), but you could serve some some condiments/side dishes with it.

What would be great:

Storage:

These Mexican zucchini boats can be easily made ahead. Reheat them in the oven preheated to 320F/160C and bake until warm. You can store them in the fridge for up to 3 days in a tightly closed container. They can also be frozen. Wrap each boat separately in plastic foil then freeze for up to 3 months. Thaw in the fridge then reheat in the oven as described above. Frozen zucchini will be a little bit mushy. You can also freeze just the filling – it freezes very well.

Mexican zucchini boats in a white baking pan topped with cilantro.

Did you make this recipe? RATE THE RECIPE or tell me in the COMMENTS how you liked it! You can also add a photo of your dish. It would make me very happy and will help other readers. Thank you!!

Mexican zucchini boats

These Mexican zucchini boats make an easy, delicious dinner that is packed with flavor. It features colorful vegetables, well-spiced ground beef and pork, all baked in zucchini shells under melted gooey cheese. This Tex-Mex-inspired dinner can be easily frozen and reheated.
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Mexican zucchini boats on a baking tray.
Print Recipe
5 from 1 vote
Prep Time 30 minutes
Cook Time 40 minutes
Total Time 1 hour 10 minutes
Servings 4 servings (8 zucchini boats)
Calories 723kcal
Author Aleksandra

Ingredients

  • 4 medium or 3 large zucchini
  • 2 tablespoons frying oil
  • 1 medium onion
  • 1 red bell pepper
  • 3 cloves garlic
  • 1 lb (450g) ground pork and beef, or just beef
  • 2 1/3 tablespoons homemade Fajita seasoning* or Taco seasoning
  • 1 (14oz/400ml) can crushed tomatoes
  • 1/2 (14oz/400ml) can kidney beans, 140g
  • 1/2 (14oz/400ml) can corn, 120g
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • 7 oz (200g) sharp cheddar cheese 2 cups
  • lime juice optional

Instructions

  • Cut the zucchini in half lengthwise, don’t trim off the stem ends. Use a teaspoon to carefully scoop the flesh out of the zucchinis (scoop out a lot of the flesh, leaving about 1/4-inch (5mm) border on all sides). Reserve the scooped-out flesh, chop it roughly with a knife, squeeze out excess water.
  • Dice the bell paprika and onion, chop the garlic very finely.
  • Preheat the oven to 350°F / 180°C / Gas Mark 4, no fan.
  • Heat the oil in a large frying pan over medium-low heat. When hot add the bell pepper and onion. Cook, stirring from time to time, for about 3-4 minutes, or until the onion is soft. Add the garlic and cook for 30 seconds more.
  • Add reserved zucchini flesh. Cook for about 10 minutes over medium-high heat or until most of the moisture is evaporated (zucchini should reduce its volume a lot or the filling won’t fit into the boats).
  • Add ground meat and Fajita seasoning, cook for a couple of minutes over high heat or until the meat is no longer pink.
  • Add the crushed tomatoes, corn, and beans. Cook for a couple of minutes. Season with salt and pepper to taste.
  • Fill the zucchini boats with the sauce.
  • Place the zucchini on a baking sheet and bake for 30 minutes (baking time may vary depending on the thickness of the zucchini boats, zucchini should be tender but still a little bit crunchy).
  • Take the baking sheet out of the oven and sprinkle the zucchini boats with shredded cheese.
  • Broil for about a couple of minutes or until the cheese is melted (if you don’t have this setting you can turn on grill or fan setting or just bake the zucchinis 10 minutes longer until the cheese is melted).
  • Drizzle zucchini boats with lime juice.
  • Enjoy!

Notes

  • You can use ground beef or turkey instead of beef and pork mix.
  • If you don’t want to make a whole batch of my Fajita seasoning, you can add to this recipe: 2 teaspoons chili powder, 1 teaspoon paprika, 1 teaspoon onion powder, 1 teaspoon garlic powder, 1 teaspoon oregano, 1 teaspoon cumin. Please note that the chili powder is a spice mix, not pure chili!
  • Calories = 1 serving (1/4 of the recipe) = 2 zucchini boats (1 whole zucchini). This is only an estimate!
Course Main Course
Cuisine Tex-Mex-inspired
Keyword beef stuffed zucchini boats, beef zucchini boats, Mexican zucchini boats

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1 Comment

  • Reply
    Cynthia | What A Girl Eats
    12 February 2021 at 22:43

    5 stars
    Thank you for including me! Pinned and tweeted!

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