Garlic Butter Zucchini Boat Bolognese.
This zucchini boat bolognese is an excellent weeknight meal! It’s super delicious: the zucchini is brushed with garlic butter, filled with bolognese and topped with cheese, then baked until melty and warm and golden. Delish!
It’s zucchini boat season!
Okay technically it can ALWAYS be zucchini boat season, but if you find yourself with a ton of garden zucchini this time of year and you’re not sure what to do with them? Make these boats. They are incredible!
The zucchini boats are smothered in garlic butter and then filled with ground turkey bolognese, topped with cheese and baked until everything is melty, warm and wonderful. We can’t get enough over here.
This zucchini bolognese is a perfect weeknight meal – it’s cozy and comforting, is a great way to use up all that garden zucchini, is an even better way to use up some leftover bolognese you may have and it all around delicious! I’ve been obsessed with zucchini boats ever since making my bruschetta quinoa zucchini boats and these are no exception.
Also, my kids LOVE this, so it’s a great way to get in some vegetables. And we enjoy it so much too. The zucchini is a big crunchy on the bottom, so the texture is there too. It’s awesome.
Just look at that golden, bubbly, melty cheese. It’s my love language.
For this recipe, I use my weeknight ground turkey bolognese. It’s a riff on our favorite bolognese which is a recipe that can be found in my cookbook The Pretty Dish. Everyone absolutely loves it.
This weeknight version is fairly simple and comes together fast, but it’s also something you can make ahead of time! It’s hearty and filled with vegetables, a touch of red wine and parmesan. Of course, the longer it sits the better it tastes, so it’s up to you when you make it. But don’t be discouraged if you find this recipe and plan on making it the day of. It’s still super delicious. We adore!
And! If you want to make this entire recipe meatless, I also have a lentil bolognese recipe that has excellent texture and the same classic flavor. I’ve served it to Eddie before and he ACTUALLY THOUGHT IT WAS MEAT!
Which is huge, because he’s the biggest carnivore ever. So if you’re looking for a veg substitute, make the lentil version instead.
My favorite part of these zucchini boats is the garlic butter. I make a garlic butter and brush it all over the cut zucchini, which adds an extra layer of flavor. Heck, I could eat the zucchini slathered in the garlic butter alone – it’s that good.
Once done, I top with lots of parmesan, fresh basil and it’s perfect mix of comfort food with fresh garden herbs. Delish.
These zucchini boats also make great leftovers. You can reheat them and take them for lunch – while the zucchini on the bottom may lose a bit of that crisp bite, they are still very flavorful and satisfying.
You can never go wrong with a saucy, cheese meal for dinner!
Zucchini Boat Bolognese
Zucchini Boat Bolognese
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- kosher salt and pepper
- 1 sweet onion diced
- 4 garlic cloves minced
- 8 ounces cremini mushrooms chopped
- 1 pound lean ground turkey, (I like 94% lean)
- 2 tablespoons tomato paste
- 1/2 teaspoon dried basil
- 1/2 teaspoon dried oregano
- 1/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
- 1 tablespoon brown sugar
- 1/2 cup dry red wine
- 1 (14 ounce) can fire roasted tomatoes
- 1 (28 ounce) can crushed tomatoes
- 1/2 cup freshly grated parmesan cheese, plus more for serving
- 1 cup freshly grated mozzarella or provolone cheese
- 4 medium zucchini, sliced in half lengthwise
- 2 tablespoons unsalted butter
- fresh basil, for topping
- NOTE: Remember that you can use my LENTIL BOLOGNESE recipe linked above in the post for this to be vegetarian!
- Heat a large pot over medium heat and add the olive oil. Add in the onions with a pinch of salt and pepper and cook, stirring occasionally, until softened, about 5 to 6 minutes. Add in the garlic and mushrooms. Stir and cook for another 5 or 6 minutes, until the mushrooms soften.
- Add in the turkey and break it apart with a wooden spoon. Brown it, stirring and breaking it apart, until it's cooked through, about 6 to 8 minutes. Stir in the tomato paste, dried basil, oregano, pepper flakes and brown sugar. Cook for 2 more minutes.
- Add in the wine, tomatoes and parmesan. Bring the mixture to a boil then reduce to a simmer and cover, cooking for 15 minutes (or even longer if you wish!). You can make this ahead of time, FYI!
- Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F
- Slice each zucchini in half lengthwise. Place them on a baking sheet. Scoop out the center using a spoon to create a well. You can discard this zucchini or stir it into the bolognese if you don’t want to waste it.
- Melt the butter in a saucepan and stir in the remaining garlic. Brush the zucchini boats all over with the garlic butter. Sprinkle with salt and pepper all over over.
- Fill the zucchini boats with bolognese. Top with the grated mozzarella. Bake for 20 to 25 minutes, until the cheese is melty and bubbly and golden. Serve with fresh basil and extra parmesan.
Did you make this recipe?
Be sure to follow @howsweeteats on instagram and tag #howsweeteats. You can also post a photo of your recipe to our facebook page.
I appreciate you so much!
Such a love boat.
13 Comments on “Garlic Butter Zucchini Boat Bolognese.”
This looks amazing! I will definitely try the garlic butter trick next time I make zucchini boats! Trader Joes also has a frozen turkey bolognese that is perfect for these :)
These sounds so good, two questions, you say in the recipe to add 1/2 garlic and mushrooms, should it be all of them? it never mentions where to add the other 1/2? Can you taste the mushrooms? I am not the biggest fan, but my husband loves them so I would want to leave them in. I also think this will be delicious with spaghetti squash in the fall. :-)
you can’t taste the mushrooms here, they really just add more meaty texture! you can leave them out with no problem!
I saw your post on Instagram and immediately grabbed some zucchinis. I plan to make this today- but with a meatless crumble in place of ground turkey for the bolognese. I usually substitute equally in sauce/chili recipes. I don’t have fresh mushrooms on hand, but I do have dried porcini mushrooms. Any thoughts on how those could be utilized in the bolognese?
I can’t wait to bite into this one tonight- I know my toddler will devour it, too.
i think if you reconstitute the mushrooms (place them in hot water and let them soak until plump, like 20ish mins), you can use them in the same way! otherwise I would just leave them out – it won’t affect it. :)
Question: Step 2 says “add the remaining 1 TBS of oil.
Where do we use the first TBS of oil? Maybe to oil the baking sheet?
Cannot wait to make these!
So easy! So delicious!!
I am making this right now and also wonder when you add the 2nd half of mushrooms and garlic, And when I was supposed to add the 1st half of the Olive oil.. Other people have mentioned this and it hasn’t been answered. Thanks! I’m sure it will be delicious none the less. But I use recipes when I don’t want to guess and would have appreciated knowing the answers!!
sorry about that!! it was a typo – you can add everything at once. :) i fixed it, thank you!
This was incredible Jessica, yuuuum. Zucchini boats are one of my all-time favorite meals and was looking for really good ket-friendly recipes. Had to link to it from my recipe :)
This bolognese sauce is deliciouusss. I added the zucchini centers chopped back into the sauce and had a bit of extra sauce as it was, but I’d totally make it ahead of time next time and a little more extra, too for a big pasta dish. I left out mushrooms because mine tragically went bad before I made this. And it was still so tasty.
Pingback: Healthy Dinner Ideas for 2023 – 280 Dinner Recipes – How Sweet Eats – Recipes For Your Granny
I am working my way through your 2023 Healthy Dinners list and this was excellent!! So flavorful and filling but the zucchini lightens it up and adds more veggies. Will be coming back to this recipe many times!
One question – any suggestions for what to do with the leftover bolognese?