Long pieces of zucchini are hollowed out to make boats and stuffed with a mixture of salsa-flavored ground beef, cheese, onion, and olives in these Low-Carb Cheesy Salsa Beef Zucchini Boats. And these delicious zucchini boats with taco flavors are also gluten-free and South Beach Diet friendly.
We just finished our big shout-out for the Top Ten Most Popular Low-Carb Zucchini Recipes on Kalyn's Kitchen, so it might seem ironic to some people that I'm following that with a new low-carb zucchini recipe! But people with vegetable gardens will understand, because no matter how many different zucchini recipes you try, the zucchini just keep on coming.
Stuffed zucchini is a classic way to use those zucchinis that get a little too big, and my recipe for Meat, Tomato, and Mozzarella Stuffed Zucchini Cups (#4 on the top ten countdown) shows how to hollow out giant zucchini and make cups to fill with a cheesy mixture of sausage and cheese. That recipe is one of my long-time faves, but sometimes you want something a bit different!
On the day the idea for these Low-Carb Cheesy Salsa Beef Zucchini Boats popped into my head, I happened to have some large-but-not-giant size zucchini on the counter and a hankering for taco flavors. This recipe makes a lot, but stuffed zucchini like this freezes well, and when you have a counter full of zucchini staring you in the face, you don't want to cook something that only uses a little bit of zucchini. But if you don't have lots of zucchini or don't want to make so much, just cut the recipe in half!
And after I had made this recipe with Kara and we loved it, we started brainstorming recipe names and when we googled the first name we thought of, we discovered several other food bloggers had made something similar to this; I guess great minds think alike, right? Check after the recipe if you want more ideas for stuffed zucchini, including some similar recipes from other bloggers!
We used zucchini that were about 10 inches long and cut them in half lengthwise and crosswise; then we hollowed out the inside to make a boat! You can microwave them for a few minutes if you want the zucchini to be soft in the finished dish; we skipped that step. Brown the ground beef; then push it to the side and add the onion to cook it partly through. Then add Kalyn's Taco Seasoning, ground cumin, salt, pepper, and salsa and cook over low heat until most of the liquid has evaporated.
While the meat simmers, slice olives and measure out the cheese. When the meat mixture is mostly dry, turn off heat and let it cool for a minute or two. Then stir the olives and most of the cheese into the meat. Lay zucchini boats out on a baking sheet that you've sprayed with nonstick spray and use a large spoon to fill them with the meat mixture, packing it in. Bake about 25-30 minutes; then sprinkle them with the remaining cheese and bake about 15 minutes more, or until the zucchini is cooked through.
Low-Carb Cheesy Salsa Beef Zucchini Boats
(Makes 8 zucchini boats, but the recipe can be cut in half or leftovers can be frozen. Recipe created by Kalyn and Kara when the counter was piled with zucchini that had to be used!)
4 very large zucchinis, each about 10-12 inches long
2 lbs. lean ground beef
2 tsp. olive oil
1 onion, chopped small
1 T Kalyn's Taco Seasoning or any taco seasoning of your choice
1 tsp. ground cumin
salt and fresh-ground black pepper to taste
2 cups salsa (Choose a salsa with the lowest amount of sugar you can find.)
1 1/2 cup + 1 cup grated cheese (We used Mexican Cheese Blend.)
1 can olives (6 oz. drained), thickly sliced
Preheat oven to 375F/190C. Wash zucchini and cut off the stem and flower ends. Cut each zucchini in half lengthwise and then again in half crosswise to make 8 pieces. Use a melon baller or sharp spoon to scrape out most of the fleshy inside part of the zucchini, creating a "boat" with about 1/2 inch of flesh attached to the zucchini skin. If you prefer your zucchini fairly well done, you can microwave the boats for a couple of minutes before you stuff them; if you do that blot dry with a paper towel before putting the stuffing in. (We didn't microwave them and ours were just tender crisp when they were done.)
Heat the oil in a large non-stick frying pan; add the ground beef and cook over medium-high heat until the beef is nicely browned, breaking the meat apart with the turner (or a potato masher) as it cooks. When the beef is browned, push it to one side and add the chopped onion and cook for 3-4 minutes, until the onion is starting to soften. Stir the onion and beef together and add the taco seasoning, cumin, salt, pepper, and salsa. Stir together, then reduce heat to low and simmer until most of the liquid has evaporated.
While the mixture simmers, drain the olives and slice and measure out the cheese. Put the zucchini boats on a large baking sheet that you've sprayed with nonstick spray. When the meat mixture looks dry if you draw a spoon across the bottom of the pan, turn off the heat and let it cool for 2-3 minutes. Then stir in the olives and 1 1/2 cups cheese. Use a large spoon to stuff the mixture into the zucchini boats, packing it tightly so you use it all.
Bake the stuffed zucchini 20-25 minutes, until the zucchini is starting to feel soft when you stick a fork into it. Remove the baking sheet from the oven and sprinkle the top of each stuffed zucchini with additional cheese. Bake about 15 minutes more, or until the zucchini is done to your liking.
Serve hot, with sour cream and additional salsa to add at the table if desired. This recipe freezes well. Let it thaw in the refrigerator and then reheat in a microwave or in a toasted oven. (I would cover the dish with foil to heat in the toaster oven.)
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South Beach Diet / Low-Carb Diet Suggestions:
Everything used in this recipe is perfect for all phases of the South Beach Diet, and should work for most other low-carb diet plans as well. The highest carb ingredient here is the salsa; look for a salsa with the lowest amount of sugar you can find. The recipe is also gluten-free.
Find More Recipes Like This One:
Use the Recipes by Diet Type photo index pages to find more recipes suitable for a specific eating plan. You might also like to Follow Kalyn's Kitchen on Pinterest to see all the good recipes I'm sharing there.
I chose the South Beach Diet to manage my weight partly so I wouldn't have to count calories, carbs, points, or fat grams, but if you want nutritional information for a recipe, I recommend entering the recipe into Calorie Count, which will calculate it for you. Or if you're a member of Yummly, you can use the Yum button on my site to save the recipe and see the nutritional information there.
More Tasty Ideas with Zucchini:
(Recipes from other blogs not always South Beach Diet or Low-Carb friendly; check ingredients.)
The BEST Slow Cooker Zucchini Recipes ~ Slow Cooker from Scratch
50 Amazing Zucchini Recipes, Plus More from Around the Web ~ Kalyn's Kitchen
Paleo Taco Zucchini Boats ~ $5 Dinners
Tex-Mex Stuffed Zucchini with Avocado Salsa ~ Good Life Eats
Taco-Stuffed Zucchini Boats ~ Skinnytaste
(Want even more recipes? I find these recipes from other blogs using Food Blog Search.)