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!
SO GOOD Subbed Gimme Lean Italian Sausage for Lentils (basically followed "original" recipe, but browned the fake sausage separately, then added cooked zucchini and tomato to the sausage with pest). Came together very quickly if prepped in advance. There was some cook time, but very hands off (great for cooking with littles). Definitely one of our favorites.0 Helpful
Great flavor but the prep and cook time for the boats themselves were just not worth it. Would still be great with chopped zucchini cooked alongside the turkey "filling" and served in a bowl. Will probably make it like that in the future.1 Helpful
Having prepped this meal, it came together much faster than I thought it would. I even had time to clean up my kitchen while the zucchini and garlic bread baked! The meal itself was a little bland. I might use canned tomatoes next time for a bigger hit of flavor and less water. I also might try the Italian flavored turkey, or even turkey sausage next time. Everyone loves the garlic bread, of course, and the preschooler ate the turkey and zucchini, but the toddler didn’t.0 Helpful
I was really pleased to find that we incorporate the zucchini "scrapings" into the meal this time!!0 Helpful
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