Friends I love how fresh herbs connect to the senses and make food come alive. Basil especially excites me. Since my food is free of preservatives, dairy or sugar, I have to rely on herbs and spices to wake up my taste buds. This was my first time trying purple basil and now I’m officially in love!
My zucchini boats were made with love from a couple different backyard gardens. One of my dearest friends gave me the purple basil and the my sister and brother-in-law gave me a GIANT zucchini, easily larger than an infant.
If you have a garden bursting with zucchini, I hope this recipe is a winner for your family. If you are like me and rely on grocery store or farmers market veggies, this can still work for you. 6 regular sized zucchini are actually easier to work with than my King Kong vegetable.
- 1 sweet red pepper
- 1 sweet onion
- 6 regular sized zucchini or one giant zucchini the size of King Kong
- 1 tsp salt
- 1/2 tsp pepper (white pepper is my favorite for this meal)
- 4 tbsp avacado or grapeseed oil
- 1 lb ground sausage, grass fed beef, or turkey (optional- leave out for a vegan option)
- 8 grape tomatoes
- 8 cups of organic, dairy free pasta sauce – About 2 jars of your favorite pasta sauce. I love the Tomato Basil Simple Truth sauce from Kroger.
- 1/4 cup fresh flat leaf parsley chopped
- 4-6 basil leaves chopped – I used purple basil, but any basil will work
Preheat the oven to 425.
Wash your zucchini then slice it in half long ways. Scoop out the middle seeds and discard. Place the zucchini skin side down in a large baking pan. drizzle about 2 tbsp of oil over the zucchini. Sprinkle about a 1/2 tsp of salt and 1/4 tsp of pepper over the veggies. Bake in the oven for about 20 minutes. You want to be able to pierce the zucchini with a fork without it being too tender. While the zucchini is cooking, start on the filling.
In a medium sized pan, brown the ground meat, then set aside in a glass bowl. Sausage is my favorite in this dish. If you use ground grass fed beef add a bit more salt. If you use ground turkey, add a bit more salt and a bit more oil.
Chop the onion and red pepper. In the same pan you cooked the meat, add 2 tbsp oil and bring the stove to medium high heat. When the pan is hot, add the onions and peppers. Sprinkle 1/2 of tsp of salt and 1/4 of tsp of pepper onto the veggies. Cook for about 4-6 minutes, stirring occasionally until the veggies are tender and the onions are translucent. Toss in the tomatoes at the last second cooking for another minute or two.
Remove from heat and add the meat to the veggie mixture. Pour in 4-5 cups of pasta sauce, depending on how much sauce you like.
At this point the 20 minutes should be up on your zucchini boats. They are ready for filling. take the meat and veggie mixture and fill the hollowed out section of the zucchini. I like to pile it pretty high. From there, use another 1-2 cups of pasta sauce to pour over the whole pan of zucchini boats.
Cook for another 15- 20 minutes. The zucchini is ready when it’s tender, without a crunch, but still firm enough to hold together as a boat. For an added touch, sprinkle with a touch more salt and broil for another 5 minutes to make a crust on top with the sauce.
Remove the pan from the oven and top with the roughly chopped parsley and basil. Serve hot, or put in meal prep containers for later in the week.