Tuesday, August 04, 2015

Stuffed Zucchini Recipe with Brown Rice, Ground Beef, Red Pepper, and Basil, with Variations (Gluten-Free)

It's zucchini season, and these Stuffed Zucchini Recipe with Brown Rice, Ground Beef, Red Pepper, and Basil are delicious. Use regular long zucchini if you don't have these cute round ones.

Stuffed Zucchini Recipe with Brown Rice, Ground Beef, Red Pepper, and Basil, with Variations found on KalynsKitchen.com

Back when I had a garden I fell in love with the cute round 8-Ball Zucchini, so this year when I saw these lovely striped Heirloom 8-Ball Zucchinis at the farmers market, I had to get some. We're just days away from August 8, when a neighbor might leave some zucchini on your porch, so I did appreciate the irony of buying zucchini when people are trying to give it away, but the heirloom 8-Balls were perfect for this recipe of Stuffed Zucchini Recipe with Brown Rice, Ground Beef, Red Pepper, and Basil.

Of course you might not have cute round zucchini like this, but no worries. If you have regular long ones, just cut the zucchini lengthwise and use this recipe to make zucchini boats instead. And if you end up with some of those huge giant zucchinis, use my trick of making Stuffed Zucchini Cups.

Either way you make them, I think you'll love this recipe for stuffed zucchini with red bell pepper, fresh chopped basil, and a generous amount of dried fennel seed adding layers of good flavor. And just in case someone does leave zucchini on your post on August 8, take a look at my 50 Amazing Zucchini Recipes for more help with how to use it!

(Stuffed Zucchini Recipe with Brown Rice, Ground Beef, Red Pepper, and Basil was first posted in 2007 for Weekend Herb Blogging, hosted by Katie of Thyme for Cooking. The recipe is being updated with better photos and more complete instructions, August 2015.)

Stuffed Zucchini Recipe with Brown Rice, Ground Beef, Red Pepper, and Basil, with Variations
Cut the stem end off each zucchini, use a melon baller (or sharp spoon) to scoop out most of the flesh and seeds of the zucchini, and microwave zucchini on high for 3-4 minutes on high. (Cook zucchini in the oven for about 15 minutes before you stuff them if you don't have a microwave.) 

Stuffed Zucchini Recipe with Brown Rice, Ground Beef, Red Pepper, and Basil, with Variations
I cooked brown rice in advance is my beloved Zojirushi Rice Cooker; use leftover cooked rice if you prefer. Saute the chopped onion and red bell pepper, adding the garlic, Spike Seasoning, and ground fennel when the vegetables are nearly done. Remove vegetables to a mixing bowl, then add ground beef to the pan and cook until it's nicely browned. Add the cooked brown rice, ground beef, chopped basil, and 1/2 cup Parmesan cheese to the vegetable mixture and gently combine.

Stuffed Zucchini Recipe with Brown Rice, Ground Beef, Red Pepper, and Basil, with Variations
Arrange zucchini in a roasting dish with sides. Fill each zucchini with stuffing mixture, packing it in tightly. Roast zucchini about 15 minutes, then top with the other 1/4 cup Parmesan and cook 10-15 minutes more.

Stuffed Zucchini Recipe with Brown Rice, Ground Beef, Red Pepper, and Basil, with Variations
Stuffed zucchini like this make a delicious dinner. I cook them in the toaster oven so it doesn't heat up the kitchen quite so much; enjoy!

Stuffed Zucchini Recipe with Brown Rice, Ground Beef, Red Pepper, and Basil, with Variations
And just for fun, here's the original photo from 2007, probably one of my better photos back in those days!

Stuffed Zucchini Recipe with Brown Rice, Ground Beef, Red Pepper, and Basil, with Variations
Stuffed Zucchini with Brown Rice, Ground Beef, Red Pepper, and Basil
(Makes 4 servings or 8 side dish servings if zucchini are cut in half; recipe created by Kalyn.)

4 large round zucchini (or use 4-6 regular long zucchini or make zucchini cups from a giant zucchini)
1/2 onion, chopped
1 red bell pepper, chopped
2 tsp. olive oil
1 lb. very lean ground beef (less than 10% fat)
1 tsp. Spike Seasoning (or use another all-purpose seasoning blend)
1 tsp. chopped garlic or garlic puree (from a jar)
1 tsp. ground fennel seed
1 cup cooked brown rice
1/2 cup finely chopped fresh basil
3/4 cup coarsely grated Parmesan cheese, divided
1/4 cup chicken stock

Preheat oven to 375 F. For 8-ball zucchini, cut stem end off each zucchini to create a flat surface that's just slightly smaller than the largest width of the zucchini; then using a pointed teaspoon or melon baller, scoop out and discard most of the zucchini flesh and seeds, leaving an even 1/2 inch of flesh attached to the skin. For long zucchini, barely trim both ends of the zucchini; then cut zucchini in half lengthwise and scoop out the flesh and seeds to leave a shallow boat shape. See this recipe for instructions on preparing zucchini cups from large zucchini. Microwave zucchini 3-4 minutes on high.

Heat 1 teaspoon olive oil in heavy non-stick frying pan and saute chopped onions and peppers about 3 minutes; stir in Spike Seasoning, garlic, and ground fennel, and cook 1-2 minutes more. (Vegetables will cook more in the oven, so they don't need to be fully cooked at this point.) Remove onions and peppers to large mixing bowl, then add 1 teaspoon more oil and ground beef to hot pan and cook until it's nicely browned, breaking apart with the turner as it cooks. Remove cooked ground beef to mixing bowl.

Add cooked brown rice, chopped basil, 1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese, and chicken stock to meat and vegetable mixture, and gently combine.

Choose a roasting pan with sides, just big enough to hold the zucchini. Spray pan with nonstick spray or a light misting of olive oil. Stuff zucchini with stuffing mixture, packing in as much as you can into each zucchini, and mounding it up as high as you can, until all stuffing is used.

Put zucchini into roasting pan, putting them close together so they hold each other up. Roast uncovered 15 minutes, then sprinkle each with a bit of the reserved Parmesan and cook 10-15 minutes more, until zucchini is tender-crisp, and filling is hot and slightly browned. Serve hot.

This will keep well for a few days in the refrigerator and can be reheated in the microwave.

Use turkey Italian Sausage instead of ground beef.
Use thin tomato sauce instead of the chicken stock.
Use sage or parsley instead of the basil. (I might use a bit less.)
Add some chopped olives to the stuffing.
Use sauteed mushrooms instead of or in addition to the red pepper.
Use feta cheese instead of the Parmesan.

Click Here for Printer Friendly Recipe

South Beach Suggestions:
This would make a great main dish or side dish for phase two or three of the South Beach Diet. Serve it with something like Cucumbers Caesar, Broccoli and Radish Salad with Gorgonzola, or Mediterranean Salad with Hummus Dressing.

More Stuffed Zucchini Ideas You Might Like:
(Recipes from other blogs may not always be South Beach Diet or low-carb friendly, check ingredients.

Mushroom and Goat Cheese Stuffed Zucchini ~ Always Order Dessert

Vegetarian Stuffed Zucchini with Brown Rice, Black Beans, Chiles, Cheddar, and Cotija Cheese ~ Kalyn's Kitchen

Feta Stuffed Zucchini from A Veggie Venture

Meat, Tomato, and Mozzarella Stuffed Zucchini Cups ~ Kalyn's Kitchen

Stuffed Zucchini with Ham and Mushrooms ~ Simply Recipes

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  1. Thanks for the zucchini ideas! I made bread and muffins over the weekend, but I still have more to use...thanks to you:)

  2. You must have read my mind. Just bought a huge zucchini yesterday with this in mind. Thanks! :)

  3. I always look for the smaller ones to stuff - use the big ones for bread or soup...
    Those little ones are darling! I'm going to plant some next year. And I love the stuffing; I'm a big fan of brown rice.

  4. I really want to try 8 ball zucchini. The only place I saw it this summer was a market out of town when I was only window shopping.

  5. OK, that looks truly delicious!

  6. What gorgeous pics...looks and sounds very yummy!

  7. Kalyn - what a great step by step photo demonstration, thanks!!
    As for the recipe, it looks great...I can think of a million things I would want to do with the filling (one being "eat it straight out of the pan")!!

  8. Hmmm... my sister has been dropping hints for the past few weeks about stuffed zucchini. She wants me to make this for her when I visit her in October (she does not cook by the way - though she does has a vague idea where the kitchen is but is not sure really what to do in it).

    I think I will try this out then. I used to use another stuffing mix for zucchini (incidentally called baby marrow in South Africa) but this looks way better.

  9. This is such a yummy recipe! And healthy, too. I sure will love it.

  10. I made this for dinner and boy was it good! Thanks. I just added your link to my blog!

  11. Thanks to all you zucchini lovers for stopping by. And how kind that no one has mentioned that I cut them the wrong way (on purpose, but I know some people are probably appalled.) Mrs. G, thanks, glad to hear you liked it.

  12. Looks beautiful ... I love summer veggies!

  13. Stuffed zucchinis are terrific! I recently made some with Italian sausage.

  14. Your zucchinis are so healthy :) The whole dish sounds super delicious!

  15. Wonderful post and step-by-step photos, and congrats on the Epicurious mention!

  16. Kalyn, this sound delicious. However, I have had trouble printing your recipes for the last few weeks. I have tried from two different computers. It only prints an advertisement. The rest of the page is blank. Do you have any suggestions? I don't want to miss out on any of your delicious creations! Thank you.

  17. Anonymous, I have no idea what is causing that problem. When I got this e-mail, I immediately went to today's post and printed the recipe, no problem. I'm at school where they have Internet Explorer. I print recipes all the time at home too, where I use Firefox. I've never had any problems printing a recipe.

    I wonder if it is something in your printer settings. Can you check to make sure that you're asking it to print the whole page. Let me know if you continue to have trouble.

  18. Just saw your post mentioned by Amy Sherman at epicurious, and wanted to say congratulations too! :)

  19. thanks for the nod... :) your dish looks great!

  20. Stuffing things is always fun. When I did stuffed zucchini I hollowed out the whole zucchini without slicing it in half. Slicing it in half first sounds like it would be much easier. This stuffed zucchini look good. I like the round zucchini.

  21. Hola Kalyn! Congrats on the mention (you deserve it, Babycakes!) and kudos on another fab recipe with great information and photography. Beautiful!


  22. Next year when I get my veggie garden together I want to try eight ball zucchini.

    They look delicious.

  23. These look great Kalyn! Eight ball zucchini don't seem to have hit the UK yet, though there are a lot more yellow zucchini around than there used to be

  24. Congratulations, and a well-deserved mention! You are one of the first places I go for no-nonsense recipes that are healthy and easy to replicate in the home kitchen. Nice to see recognition of such an "accessible" food blog!

  25. I have been wanting to try stuffed zucchini. I think tomorrow is the day!

  26. It's fun hearing that I'm inspiring some of you to try stuffed zucchini. If you can get the little eight-ball zucchini, do try this way of cutting them if you're not afraid to buck tradition.

  27. I am the only person in the house who loves courgettes! I love to stir-fry them. I read a recipe on one of cuisine magazines here and they stuff the courgettes with corn kernels and shredded chickens! I've tried them and they are delicious!! I'll bookmark your recipe for next time I do the courgettes. Lovely.

  28. That was so good. And so much fun to make. Thank you!

  29. I've never heard of spike seasoning. I read your post describing it and now I'm intrigued. I'll have to see if I can find it at our local Fred Meyer. I'll hunt for round zucchini as well. I love stuffed zucchini.

    1. Oh my word, you must try it! I've been using it for about 30 years now. So good in so many things!


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