These Mediterranean Quinoa Stuffed Zucchini Boats are a delicious vegan and gluten free weeknight dinner. The filling is made with quinoa, pine nuts, sun dried tomatoes and kalamata olives. Plus, learn how to prepare perfect zucchini boats every time!
How to make zucchini boats
When it comes to perfect zucchini boats, size and shape definitely matters!
Choose relatively large, wide zucchini. When you slice them in half lengthwise, you'll want to have plenty of room for filling, so the wider, the better.
Once you have your zucchini picked out, you'll need to score them, remove the filling, and then salt them before cooking.
How to score a zucchini
Using a small, sharp knife, carefully slice around the entire length of the zucchini, leaving about a half inch on either side. Do not slice all the way to the bottom –– just enough to scoop out the filling.
Then, slice lengthwise and widthwise within the oval, again not slicing all the way to the bottom. This makes it easier to remove the filling.
Next, use a spoon to scoop out the filling.
Salt the zucchini
Once you remove the filling, it's important to salt the zucchini to remove as much moisture as possible. This helps the zucchini cook faster without getting mushy and soggy.
To do so, sprinkle salt into each zucchini boat. Let sit for about 15 minutes. As you can see in the photo above, they will start to collect moisture pretty quickly.
After 15 minutes, use a paper towel to soak up all of the moisture. Now they're ready to cook!
How to use leftover zucchini
Once you remove the filling, you'll have a decent amount of leftover zucchini. Here are a few ways to use it up:
- Sauté the leftovers and add to pasta
- Add to minestrone soup
- Freeze and use in smoothies (you won't taste it!)
- Add to zucchini muffins
- Quinoa: cook the quinoa ahead of time according to the package directions. You'll need about 2 cups of cooked quinoa, which is about 3/4 cup dry. Or, make extra and have some for leftovers.
- Onion & Garlic
- Lemon Juice: freshly squeezed is always best!
- Oregano: fresh is best, but if you don't have any, you can substitute with 2 tsp dried oregano.
- Spinach: be sure to finely chop the spinach –– you don't want any big leaves in the filling.
- Sun dried tomatoes: same as the spinach –– finely chop the tomatoes so they mix well into the filling.
- Kalamata olives
- Pine nuts: we toast ours ahead of time. To do so, heat a small pan to medium heat and add the pine nuts in a single layer. Toast for 3-5 minutes, stirring often so they don't burn.
- Vegan feta: of course if you're not vegan, feel free to sub with regular feta.
Get your oven preheating to 350˚F, then start by cooking the quinoa according to package directions.
Next, prepare the zucchini by scoring and removing the filling (more details at beginning of post). Salt the zucchini and let sit for 15 minutes to remove as much moisture as possible. Pat dry with a paper towel.
While the zucchini are sitting, preheat a skillet to medium. Add the olive oil and onion and sauté for 5 minutes. Add garlic and cook for additional 2-3 minutes.
Add the cooked quinoa, spinach, sun dried tomatoes, olives, half of the pine nuts, oregano, lemon juice, salt and pepper to the onion/garlic mixture. Stir well and cook for 5 minutes, until spinach wilts. Add in 1/3 cup of the feta, stir and remove from heat.
Set the zucchini face up in a 9x13 pan (or a rimmed baking sheet). Fill each zucchini boat with quinoa filling, cover the dish with foil, then bake for 25 minutes. Foil prevents the quinoa filling from getting crispy/burnt.
Remove from oven and top with remaining vegan feta and pine nuts.
- You can substitute pine nuts with slivered almonds.
- No fresh oregano? Use basil or parsley.
- Not a fan of kalamata olives? Sub with capers or artichokes (or just leave them out).
- Change up your zucchini boat filling with these recipes:
More vegan summer recipes to try:
- Zucchini Fritters with Lemon Cashew Cream
- Cucumber Avocado Gazpacho (10 minute recipe)
- Mediterranean Grilled Tofu
- Strawberry Avocado Quinoa Salad
- Mexican Street Corn Salad
If you make these vegan quinoa stuffed zucchini boats, we’d love for you to leave a comment and rating below! We also love to see your creations on Instagram – tag us at @crowded_kitchen so we can see what you’ve been cooking.Print
These Mediterranean Quinoa Stuffed Zucchini Boats are a delicious vegan and gluten free weeknight dinner.
- 4 medium-large zucchini
- 1 tsp salt
- 2 cups cooked quinoa, cooked according to package directions (3/4 cup dry quinoa)
- 3 tbsp olive oil
- 1 cup yellow onion, diced (1 small onion)
- 2 tsp garlic, finely minced (2 cloves)
- 1 tbsp freshly squeezed lemon juice
- 2 tbsp fresh oregano, finely minced
- 1 ½ cup spinach, finely chopped
- ¼ cup sun dried tomatoes, finely diced
- ¼ cup kalamata olives, diced
- 3 tbsp toasted pine nuts, divided
- ½ tsp pepper
- ½ tsp kosher salt
- ½ cup vegan feta (or regular), divided
- Preheat oven to 350˚F.
- Cook the quinoa according to package directions (we usually add in 1/2 tsp of salt).
- Cut each zucchini in half lengthwise. Slice around the entire zucchini, leaving about 1/2 inch on each side. Score the interior lengthwise and widthwise, making sure not to cut through the bottom of the zucchini. Use a spoon to scoop out the filling. (Visual guide in blog post).
- Sprinkle salt evenly over each zucchini and let sit for 15 minutes to remove as much moisture as possible. Drain and pat dry with a paper towel.
- While the zucchini are sitting, preheat a skillet to medium. Add the olive oil and onion and sauté for 5 minutes. Add garlic and cook for additional 2-3 minutes.
- Add the cooked quinoa, spinach, sun dried tomatoes, olives, half of the pine nuts, oregano, lemon juice, salt and pepper to the onion/garlic mixture. Stir well and cook for 5 minutes, until spinach wilts. Add in 1/3 cup of the feta, stir and remove from heat.
- Set the zucchini face up in a 9x13 pan (or a rimmed baking sheet). Fill each zucchini boat with quinoa filling, then cover with aluminum foil. Bake for 25 minutes, until the zucchini is fork tender.
- Remove from oven and top with remaining vegan feta and pine nuts.
Choose zucchini that are relatively large and wide so there's plenty of room for the filling. Depending on the size of the zucchini, you may need to slightly adjust the cooking time. If the zucchini are huge, they may need longer to cook.
- Category: Dinner
- Method: Oven
- Cuisine: American
Keywords: quinoa stuffed zucchini boats