Thursday, September 06, 2007

Stuffed Zucchini Recipe with Brown Rice, Ground Beef, Red Pepper, and Basil

Zucchini Stuffed with Brown Rice,Ground Beef,Red Pepper,and Basil(Update - Welcome to anyone visiting from the blog at, where Amy Sherman featured Kalyn's Kitchen today. I'm completely honored to be mentioned on the Epicurious blog.)

It's pretty much obligatory to make stuffed zucchini a few times each year if you have lots of zucchini that have gotten a bit too large and you need to figure out ways to use them. This propensity for zucchini to become overly large is why people joke about zucchini during the summer. This year one of the best producing zucchini plants in my garden is the little eight-ball zucchini, so called because you should be harvesting them when they're just slightly bigger than a billiards ball. Unfortunately, I kept getting distracted and a few of mine maybe should be called bowling ball zucchini. Luckily, recipes abound for using raw zucchini, fried zucchini, savory zucchini dishes, and sweet zucchini dishes.

Wikipedia reports that zucchini originated in Europe, where they were called Courgettes in France and Zucchine or Zucchini in Italy. Zucchini is low in fat, carbs, calories, and sodium, and contain enough nutrients to get them listed as being among The World's Healthiest Foods. And since they're versatile, healthy, and easy to grow, some people regard them as the perfect vegetable. I know I've written about zucchini before for Weekend Herb Blogging, hosted this week by Katie of Thyme for Cooking, who also seems to be quite a zucchini fan. However, since I've been seeing so many fun recipes lately for stuffed zucchini, I thought this would be a fun entry.

You may think I've stuffed my zucchini the wrong way! I actually made stuffed eight ball zucchini one other time this year, and I found myself feeling annoyed that it was so hard to scrape out the insides, and when I was eating it I wanted a bit more stuffing in proportion to zucchini. So this time I decided to cut the zucchini lengthwise so each piece was a half-circle shape, and the opening was much bigger to put the stuffing in. I loved the way the recipe turned out when the zucchini were stuffed that way, and really liked this recipe with the zucchini stuffing flavored with fresh basil and Parmesan and the nutty flavor of the brown rice. Here are step-by-step photos of how I made my stuffed zucchini, with a few suggested variations from me plus lots of stuffed zucchini ideas from other bloggers after the recipe.

Trim as little as possible of the stem and flower ends off, and cut it off evenly because it will show when the zucchini is sliced through. My zucchini were about the size of an orange.

Then cut zucchini lengthwise, taking care to make the pieces the same size. If they roll around too much, you can cut a small bit off what is now the bottom side to make them sit up. (I had a pan where the zucchini fit tightly so I didn't need to do this.)

Using a pointed teaspoon or melon baller, carefully scrape out most of the inside flesh and seeds, leaving an even 1/2 inch of flesh attached to the skin. Microwave these shells 3-4 minutes on high.

Saute red peppers and onions in olive oil, then remove from pan and saute ground beef until it's well browned.

Combine brown rice, ground beef, red pepper, onion, chopped basil, Parmesan cheese, and chicken stock.
Stuff zucchini with mixture, pressing it in tightly, then bake until zucchini is tender-crisp and stuffing is hot and slightly browned.

Stuffed Zucchini with Brown Rice, Ground Beef, Red Pepper, and Basil
(Makes 4 whole meal servings or 8 side dish servings, recipe created by Kalyn.)

2 large or 4 small round zucchini (or use regular shaped zucchini)
1/2 onion, chopped
1/2 red bell pepper, chopped
2 tsp. olive oil
1 lb. very lean ground beef (less than 10% fat)
1 tsp. Spike Seasoning
1 tsp. chopped garlic or garlic puree (from a jar)
1/2 tsp. ground fennel seed
1 cup cooked brown rice
1/2 cup finely chopped fresh basil
3/4 cup coarsely grated Parmesan cheese
1/4 cup chicken stock

Preheat oven to 375 F. Cut stem and flower ends off zucchini, trimming off the smallest possible amount of the skin and taking care to cut it off evenly, since this will show. Cut zucchini in half lengthwise, 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. If your zucchini are rolling around a lot, you can cut a thin slice on the bottom side of each to make them sit up. Microwave zucchini 3-4 minutes on high.

Heat olive oil in heavy frying pan and saute chopped onions and peppers until they are just starting to soften, about 5 minutes. (They 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 ground beef to hot pan and cook until starting to brown. When meat is about half cooked, season with Spike Seasoning and ground fennel and add garlic, and continue to cook until meat is well browned, breaking it into small, pieces with the side of your turner. Remove cooked ground beef to mixing bowl.

Add cooked brown rice, chopped basil, Parmesan cheese, and chicken stock to meat and vegetable mixture, and gently combine.

Choose a roasting pan with slight 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 stuffing-side up. Roast uncovered 20-30 minutes, 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.

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. I would 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 or may not be South Beach Diet friendly, check ingredients.)
Feta Stuffed Zucchini from A Veggie Venture
Stuffed Zucchini with Ham and Mushrooms from Simply Recipes
Eight-Ball Zucchinis Stuffed with Veal, Celery, and Watercress from La Tartine Gourmande
Stuffed Zucchini with Turkey Sausage from Simply Recipes
Stuffed Zucchini with Feta, Dill, and Pine Nuts from Sassy Radish
Eight Ball Stuffed Zucchini from A Veggie Venture
Stuffed Zucchini with Beef and Rice from Suburban Gourmet
Eight Ball Zucchini Stuffed with Rice, Basil, and Sun-Dried Tomatoes from Fat Free Vegan Kitchen
Globe Zucchini Stuffed with Chermoula Chicken from Cook (almost) Anything At Least Once
Zucchini Stuffed with Pine Nuts and Herbed Basmati Rice from Fat Free Vegan Kitchen
Stuffed Round Zucchinis with Red Rice and Vegetables from La Tartine Gourmande
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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!


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