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!

zucchini boat bolognese

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. 

zucchini boats filled with meat sauce

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.

zucchini boat bolognese

Just look at that golden, bubbly, melty cheese. It’s my love language.

zucchini boat bolognese

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!

zucchini boat bolognese

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. 

zucchini boat bolognese

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.

zucchini boat bolognese

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

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!
5 from 7 votes
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Ingredients

  • 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

Instructions 

  • 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.
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Such a love boat.