Quinoa Stuffed Zucchini with Harissa Butter

4.88 from 8 votes
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Quinoa Stuffed Zucchini with Harissa Butter will become a summertime favorite. Roasted zucchini boats are filled with coriander-spiced quinoa, pine nuts, and parsley, and finished with melted chili-infused butter. This vegetarian meal is fresh, flavorful, and nutritious. Zucchini boats filled with quinoa on a plate with lemon wedges

Why You’ll Love this Stuffed Zucchini Recipe

Stuffed zucchini, also known as “zucchini boats” feature fresh zucchini that are split in half, hollowed out down in the center to create a “boat” opening, then stuffed with delicious fillings. Since zucchini is so mild in flavor, it lends itself well to a wide range of flavors.

These vegetarian stuffed zucchini boats feature a protein-rich quinoa mixture spiced with coriander, cumin, and garlic. While the filling is plenty flavorful on its own, the harissa-butter topping is what really takes them over the top. It adds richness, spice, and smoky flavors to truly elevate summer squash.

If you’re looking for a creative way to use up your bumper crop of zucchini, this recipe is hard to beat. The heartiness and flavor will impress both vegetarians and meat eaters alike. 

Recipe IngredientsStuffed zucchini ingredients in separate bowls with blue labels

  • Zucchini: Whether you gather them from your garden, the farmers market, or the grocery store, this recipe is a great way to use up a surplus of squash. Pick zucchini that are similar in size so that they bake in about the same amount of time. You need either 3 large zucchini (10 to 12 oz.) or 4 medium (8 to 9 oz.). 
  • Quinoa: A protein and fiber-rich pseudo seed that creates a hearty vegetarian filling. Quinoa is also gluten free, and a great source of magnesium and manganese. 
  • Aromatics: Shallots and garlic infuse the quinoa mixture with aromatic flavor. Alternatively, you can use yellow or sweet onion here. 
  • Spices: A love a mix of coriander and cumin for warm, earthy spice. They also complement the lively aroma of harissa beautifully. 
  • Harissa: Harissa is a North African spice paste that looks like a mix between tomato paste and tomato sauce. It has a slightly smoky spiciness with bright acidity and earthy undertones, and is a great shortcut ingredient to achieving big flavor.
  • Butter: I prefer using a pasture-raised, grass-fed butter, such as Vital Farms. If you’re making the recipe vegan, you can use a plant-based butter alternative, such as Myoko’s brand.
  • Pine Nuts: For extra richness, toast the pine nuts in a skillet prior to tossing them in the filling. It really enhances their nutty flavor. 
  • Parsley: Chopped fresh parsley adds bright top notes and freshness to the zucchini boats. Alternatively, you can use fresh basil or mint leaves. 

A stuffed zucchini being sliced in half on a plate

How to Make Stuffed Zucchini:

Note: If you’re short on time, you can skip the salting of the zucchini, however it DOES make a difference in the texture.

Step 1: Salt Zucchini

Slice zucchinis in half lengthwise. Use a small spoon to scoop the seeds out of the center, leaving a 1/4-inch thick border of flesh. Discard seeds, or save for another recipe. Sprinkle salt evenly all over the flesh, and let zucchini sit for 30 minutes. (This helps draw out moisture, which turns the zucchini from soggy to succulent after roasting.)

After 30 minutes, use a paper towel to blot all of the water molecules off the flesh.Zucchini flesh being scooped out with a spoon

Step 2: Roast Zucchini

Preheat oven to 450ºF. Spray zucchini flesh with cooking spray. and arrange flesh side-down on a large baking sheet. Roast zucchini for 12 to 14 minutes, or until the rim of the flesh is golden brown. Zucchini halves being roasted on a sheet pan

Step 3: Sauté Aromatics

Meanwhile, heat oil in a large skillet with a fitted lid over medium heat. Once hot, add shallots; cook 3 to 4 minutes, until soft. Next, add garlic, coriander, cumin, and red pepper flakes; cook 1 more minute.Shallots, garlic, and chili flakes being sautéed in a skillet

Step 4: Cook Quinoa

Add dry quinoa to skillet and toast grains for 2 minutes, until aromatic. Next, add vegetable broth, tomatoes (if using), and salt. Increase heat and bring mixture to a boil. Reduce heat to medium-low, cover, and gently simmer for 15 minutes, or until all of the liquid if absorbed and quinoa is fluffy. Quinoa being cooked in a skillet

Step 5: Prepare Harissa Butter and Parsley Mixture

In a small bowl, combine softened butter and harissa paste; mix well to combine. In a separate bowl, combine chopped parsley, lemon zest, garlic, and a pinch of salt; mix to combine. Harissa butter being mixed in a bowl, and parsley being mixed in a separate bowl

Step 6: Stuff Zucchini Boats and Bake

Flip roasted zucchini boats upside down so that they’re now skin side-down. Divide the quinoa mixture evenly between each zucchini boat. Dollop Harissa Butter overtop, and place back in the oven for 5 minutes, or until the butter melts into the quinoa. Remove from the oven and scatter parsley mixture overtop before serving. Zucchini boats being stuffed with quinoa mixture before baking

Recipe Adaptations: 

  • To Make Vegan: Use a plant-based butter alternative, such as Myoko’s brand, in place of butter.
  • To Make Paleo: Swap the quinoa for ground turkey, beef, or chicken. 
  • To Make Low Carb: Reduce quinoa to 1/2 cup and add an extra 3 Tbsp. chopped pine nuts to the filling.

How to Store and Reheat Stuffed Zucchini:

Vegetarian stuffed zucchini actually holds up quite well for leftovers!

  • To Store: Transfer to an airtight container and refrigerate for up to 3 days.
  • To Reheat: Place zucchini boats in a baking dish, and warm in a 350ºF oven until hot. Alternatively, you can reheat zucchini boats in a toaster oven.

Vegetarian stuffed squash arranged on a plate

More Healthy Zucchini Recipes:

Eggplant Zucchini Lasagna

20 Minute Summer Squash and Corn Salad

30 Minute Zucchini Pesto Pasta

Zucchini and Quinoa Enchiladas

If you give this vegetarian stuffed zucchini a try, snap a pic and tag #dishingouthealth so I can see your beautiful creations. I also really appreciate readers taking the time to leave a rating and review! Lastly, follow along on Facebook and Pinterest for the latest recipe updates.

4.88 from 8 votes

Quinoa Stuffed Zucchini with Harissa Butter

Quinoa Stuffed Zucchini with Harissa Butter will become a summertime favorite. Roasted zucchini boats are filled with coriander-spiced quinoa, pine nuts, and parsley, and finished with melted chili-infused butter. Fresh, flavorful, and nutritious!
Prep Time: 30 minutes
Cook Time: 20 minutes
Total Time: 50 minutes
Servings: 4

Equipment

  • Large baking sheet
  • Skillet with fitted lid

Ingredients  

  • 4 medium (8 to 9 oz.) or 3 large (10 to 12 oz.) zucchinis
  • 1 tsp kosher salt, divided
  • 1 Tbsp. olive oil
  • 1/2 cup finely chopped shallots
  • 3 minced garlic cloves, divided
  • 1 tsp. ground coriander
  • 1/2 tsp. ground cumin
  • 1/4 tsp. red pepper flakes
  • 2/3 cup dry quinoa
  • 1 1/4 cups lower-sodium vegetable broth (sub water)
  • 1 plum tomato, finely chopped (optional)
  • 3 Tbsp. toasted pine nuts, roughly chopped
  • 3 Tbsp. unsalted butter, softened to room temperature
  • 2 Tbsp. mild harissa paste (I use Mina brand)
  • 3 Tbsp. finely chopped fresh parsley
  • 1 tsp. lemon zest
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Instructions 

  • Slice zucchinis in half lengthwise. Use a small spoon to scoop the seeds out of the center, leaving a 1/4-inch thick border of flesh. Discard seeds, or save for another recipe. Sprinkle 1/2 tsp. salt evenly all over the flesh, and let zucchini sit for 30 minutes. (This helps draw out moisture, which turns the zucchini from soggy to succulent after roasting. If you're short on time, you can skip this step, however it does improve the zucchini's texture.)
    After 30 minutes, use a paper towel to blot the water molecules off the flesh.
    Preheat oven to 450ºF. Spray zucchini flesh with cooking spray. and arrange flesh side-down on a large baking sheet. Roast for 12 to 14 minutes, or until the rim of the flesh is golden brown. 
  • Meanwhile, heat olive oil in a large skillet with a fitted lid over medium heat. Once hot, add shallots; cook 3 to 4 minutes, until soft. Add 2 cloves of the minced garlic, coriander, cumin, and red pepper flakes; cook 1 more minute.
    Add dry quinoa to skillet and toast grains for about 2 minutes, until aromatic. Add vegetable broth, tomato (if using), and remaining 1/2 tsp. salt. Increase heat and bring mixture to a boil. Reduce heat to medium-low, cover, and gently simmer for 15 minutes, or until all of the liquid if absorbed and quinoa is fluffy. Stir in pine nuts and keep covered until ready to use.
  • In a small bowl, combine softened butter and harissa paste; mix well to combine. In a separate bowl, combine chopped parsley, lemon zest, and remaining 1 clove minced garlic; mix to combine. 
  • Turn roasted zucchini boats around so that they're now skin side-down on the baking sheet. Divide the quinoa mixture evenly between each zucchini boat, and dollop Harissa Butter overtop. Place back in the oven for 5 minutes, or until the butter melts into the quinoa. Remove from the oven and scatter parsley mixture overtop before serving. 

Nutrition

Serving: 2zucchini boats | Calories: 267kcal | Carbohydrates: 29.5g | Protein: 8g | Fat: 14g | Saturated Fat: 4g | Sodium: 700mg | Sugar: 68g

I calculate these values by hand to ensure accuracy, however expect up to a 10% variable depending on food brands.

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Recipe Rating




9 Comments

  1. Felicity Isserow says:

    4 stars
    Just what I require for a Ladies Luncheon !

  2. Taryn says:

    5 stars
    My gosh this recipe is just out of this world! Loved, loved, loved it!! Thanks for another great dinner.

  3. Taryn says:

    5 stars
    My gosh this recipe is just out of this world! Loved, loved, loved it!!

    1. Jamie Vespa says:

      Woohoo! I’m so glad you loved this one, Taryn!

  4. Angelica Moreno says:

    5 stars
    Love this recipe! I had an abundance of zucchini and wasn’t sure what to do with it all and this recipe worked out perfectly! I didn’t have parsley but I had some nasturtium greens with an awesome lemony flavor that I chopped up and used instead. And yes, that harissa butter is drool worthy!

  5. Kyle says:

    5 stars
    I inhaled 4 of these in a sitting. I had to force myself to stop. This is definitely my favorite way to utilize zucchini.

    1. Jamie Vespa says:

      SO glad you enjoyed this one, love! Thank you for leaving a review!

  6. Stacey L says:

    5 stars
    Definitely the best stuffed zucchini recipe I’ve tried! The harissa butter is a game changer!

    1. Jamie Vespa says:

      Hi Stacey–Fantastic!! So glad you enjoyed it!