These healthy vegetarian stuffed zucchini boats are filled with a flavorful BBQ tempeh and rice mixture. They're ready in just under an hour and great for weeknight dinners.
- Zucchini is stuffed with BBQ tempeh, seasoned rice, corn and tomatoes and topped with shredded mozzarella.
- Healthy and balanced: Packed with plant-based protein, whole grains, and veggies.
- Versatile: Great as leftovers and easy to customize.
Nothing says summer quite like zucchini and BBQ, so why not put them together? These vegetarian stuffed zucchini boats feature seasoned rice, flavorful barbecue tempeh, and a handful of healthy summer ingredients.
If your garden is overflowing with zucchini this summer, this is a great way to use them. Large zucchini work especially well here because they can be stuffed with a lot of filling.
How to prep zucchini
Making zucchini boats is surprisingly easy. Here's how to do it:
- Rinse each zucchini. Dry with a clean dish towel.
- Use a sharp knife to slice the zucchini in half lengthwise.
- Use a spoon (a grapefruit spoon would work well here) to scoop out the seeds to make a hollow "boat".
The zucchini boat should be deep enough that it can be filled with the BBQ tempeh filling.
How to cook the zucchini boats
Combine the cooked brown rice with spices, corn, and drained tomatoes to make the filling.
- Toss each zucchini half with olive oil, salt, and freshly ground black pepper.
- Scoop about a cup of the rice mixture onto each boat, or just enough so that it is filled.
- Divide the tempeh evenly across the top of the mixture.
- Sprinkle with mozzarella.
Place the zucchini boats in a casserole dish or on a half sheet pan. If using a casserole dish you may need to use two to fit all 8 halves in (the dish I used in the photos is 11x11 and only fits 5 halves).
Bake at 400 degrees for 25-30 minutes, or until the zucchini is cooked through. If you find that the cheese is browning too quickly you can cover the baking dish with foil.
I love making BBQ tofu but never tried BBQ tempeh until testing this recipe. It turned out to be really delicious, especially when combined with the rice filling and mozzarella!
Tempeh soaks up the flavor of your favorite barbecue sauce (I like to use this homemade sweet and spicy barbecue sauce) and gets nice and crispy in the oven.
Pro tip: Steam your tempeh for 10 minutes to remove any bitterness. Some tempeh doesn't have bitterness but steaming is still a good way to soften it so that it soaks up the BBQ sauce flavors.
I use a steaming basket but you can also assemble a DIY steamer.
To do this, add a couple of inches of water to a medium saucepot. Bring to a simmer over medium-high heat, then fit a metal colander or sieve into the pot. Place tempeh in the colander and cover it with a lid so that the steam doesn't escape.
How to make in advance
The rice mixture and tempeh can be made 2 days in advance and the zucchini boats can be made up to 24 hours in advance.
I recommend storing the zucchini boats and the filling in separate containers instead of filling the boats. Cover and store in the fridge until ready to use.
Recipe FAQ and expert tips
- Zucchini flesh: You can mix the zucchini flesh into the filling if you want extra veggies but make sure to squeeze out excess water first. To do this, place the zucchini in a fine mesh colander and press down lightly with a paper towel to squeeze the water out.
- Other grains: You can replace brown rice with white rice, quinoa, or any other grain you have on hand. Just cook according to package instructions.
- Make vegan stuffed zucchini by replacing shredded mozzarella with your favorite vegan cheese or by omitting it entirely.
- Serve with vegetarian pasta salad, couscous salad or lentil salad for a light and veggie-packed summer meal.
I haven't tried grilling these boats but will update the post if I do. I feel like it would work well!
Keep leftovers refrigerated in a closed container for 3-4 days. Reheat leftovers for 10-12 minutes in a 350-degree oven.
Choose a certified gluten-free BBQ sauce and tempeh to make the stuffed zucchini gluten-free.
Yes, but I recommend keeping the zucchini boats and filling separate until you are ready to cook them. The rice mixture can be made 1-2 days in advance and the zucchini boats are best if prepared no more than a day in advance.
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Vegetarian Stuffed Zucchini Boats with BBQ Tempeh
- 6 ounces tempeh crumbled
- ½ cup BBQ sauce
- 4 medium zucchinis
- 1-2 tablespoons olive oil
- ½ teaspoon coarse salt divided in half
- freshly ground black pepper to taste
- 2 cups cooked brown rice white rice or quinoa can also be used
- ¾ cup frozen corn thawed
- 1 can (15-16 ounces) crushed tomatoes drained
- ½ teaspoon garlic powder
- ½ teaspoon onion powder
- ¼ teaspoon paprika
- ⅛ teaspoon cayenne pepper
- 1 cup shredded mozzarella cheese
- Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F.
- Use clean hands or roughly chop tempeh with a knife to make bite sized crumbles. Add to a steamer basket and steam, covered, for 10 minutes. This step is optional but I like to do it to remove the bitter flavor from the tempeh. When done steaming, combine tempeh with BBQ sauce. Set aside.
- Slice zucchini in half lengthwise so that you a total of 8 zucchini halves. Use a spoon to scoop out the seeds and most of the flesh until hollow. Drizzle both sides with olive oil and use clean hands to coat thoroughly with oil. Sprinkle the insides with ¼ teaspoon coarse salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste.
- Prepare the filling in a medium mixing bowl by combining brown rice, corn, crushed tomatoes, garlic powder, onion powder, paprika, ¼ teaspoon salt and cayenne pepper.
- Layer the 8 zucchini halves on a half sheet pan or in two medium casserole dishes. The zucchini halves should be almost touching. Add a little less than a cup of filling to each half. Sprinkle BBQ tempeh evenly across each zucchini half. Sprinkle the mozzarella cheese on top of the tempeh.
- Bake on the middle oven rack at 400 degrees F for 25-30 minutes until the zucchini is cooked through. If the cheese browns too quickly, cover loosely with foil. Remove from oven and enjoy!
- Leftovers: Leftovers keep refrigerated for 3-4 days. Reheat leftovers for 10-12 minutes in a 350 degree oven.
- Servings: This recipe makes 4-6 servings. I usually eat 1.5 boats so the servings are calculated out to reflect this.