Zucchini Boats with Pesto Turkey
and garlic bread
Zucchini boats are always a fun way to make a vegetable the star of the meal. This version uses roasted zucchini filled with flavorful pesto turkey and is topped with melty cheese.
Smarts: In past versions of zucchini boats, community members said they wanted to use all of the zucchini in the finished dish, so that's what we've done here. Once you scrape out the zucchini filling to form the 'boats' be sure to set it aside to saute with the turkey.
- Pine nuts - 2 Tbsp (sub walnuts or pecans)
- Garlic - 1 clove, peeled
- Cheese, parmesan (opt) - 1 oz, cut into large pieces
- Basil leaves, fresh - 1 1/2 oz
- Lemon juice - 2 tsp
- Oil, olive - 3 Tbsp
- Zucchini, medium - 4 (~½ lb / 227 g per zucchini)
- Tomatoes, medium - 1, chopped
- Oil, cooking - 1 Tbsp + 1 Tbsp
- Turkey, ground - 1 lb
- Basil pesto (ingredients listed separately) - 1/2 cup
- Cheese, provolone - 4 slices (sub Swiss)
- Garlic - 2 cloves, chopped
- Green onions - 1 stalk, chopped, green and white parts combined
- Cheese, parmesan - 1 Tbsp, grated
- Butter - 3 Tbsp
- Baguette or ciabatta - 8 oz
- Make pesto - (Skip if made ahead on Monday.) Toast nuts in a dry skillet or frying pan until fragrant and golden, 3 to 4 minutes. Peel garlic cloves (portion for pesto). Place nuts, garlic, parmesan cheese (portion for pesto, if using), basil leaves, and lemon juice in a food processor. Pulse until all ingredients are well chopped. With food processor running, drizzle in olive oil until smooth. (Add some additional olive oil if needed to help everything blend.) Season to taste with some salt and pepper. (Can be done up to 5 days ahead)
- Zucchini - (If prepping right before cooking, get oven heating before continuing with prep.) Slice in half lengthwise and then use a spoon to scoop out the center of each zucchini half, leaving ~1/2” / 1.25 cm thick shell on all sides. Chop the filling of the zucchini and reserve it in a separate container. Check out this video. (Can be done up to 4 days ahead)
- Tomatoes / Garlic (portion for garlic bread) / Green onions / Cheese (portion for garlic bread) - Prep as directed.
- Prep garlic bread - Heat butter in microwave just until soft, 10 to 20 seconds. Combine butter with garlic (portion for garlic bread), green onions, and parmesan cheese (portion for garlic bread). Slice bread open lengthwise and put it cut-side up on a sheet pan. Spread with garlic butter.
- Heat oven to 400F / 204C.
- Place zucchini halves on a second sheet pan, cut-side facing up. Brush zucchini halves with first portion of cooking oil and season with some salt and pepper.
- Transfer zucchini to oven and bake until zucchini halves are nearly tender, 10 to 12 minutes.
- While zucchini halves are roasting, heat a large skillet with second portion of cooking oil over medium-high heat. Add the reserved chopped zucchini and saute until tender, 3 to 4 minutes.
- Add turkey and saute, breaking turkey apart, until cooked through, ~8 minutes.
- Stir in tomatoes just until any excess liquid has cooked off. Move pan off heat and allow turkey to cool slightly.
- Stir pesto into turkey. Season with some salt and pepper.
- When zucchini is nearly tender, remove from oven and fill zucchini halves with turkey (mound the filling over the tops if needed). Top with provolone cheese.
- Transfer both sheet pans (zucchini and garlic bread) to oven. Bake until cheese is melted and garlic bread is lightly browned, 10 to 12 minutes.
- Serve zucchini boats with garlic bread on the side. Enjoy!
I made this for a meal with guests and everyone loved it. Even the kids ate it. Great flavor and texture! Nice light, healthy summer dish.0 Helpful
We loved this. We had an arugula pesto we had made earlier in the week that we used, but overall it was great0 Helpful
Absolutely delicious. I’d recommend purchasing extra green beans. I also purchased basil pesto instead of making it to speed up the dish. Otherwise, super pleased.0 Helpful
The zucchini I had were small so I didn't do boats, but instead made more of a hash and let the cheese melt on the stove. I think I'd stick with this method as it saved time and likely didn't sacrifice much flavor.0 Helpful
Really good - didn’t bother with the beans on the side since eating an entire zucchini was enough vegetables. The zucchini/tomato mixture released a ton of liquid so I used a slotted spoon to scoop into the boats, as it seemed it would make everything a little soggy. Next time I would add shredded cheese to the mixture before filling the boats, and then put extra cheese on top. Seems like it would be a great way to use up whatever cheese is in the fridge!0 Helpful
This recipe was delicious. There was plenty of flavor, which was a little surprising to me since it doesn't call for much seasoning. Rather than making my pesto, I used a store-bought jar which cut down on time and probably cost since pine nuts can be expensive. I also used a leftover half can of fire-roasted chopped tomatoes. My husband enjoyed this meal, and we'll be making it again for sure.0 Helpful