Traditional Stuffed Zucchini

Before I begin, I’d like to point out a few key steps, so it makes sense why I have those in this recipe unlike other stuffed zucchini recipes you can find online.

Why Coat the Zucchini with Lemon and Salt?

Like most healthy veggies, zucchini isn’t the most delectable when cooked. Mediterranean cuisine utilizes plenty of spices and lemon juice to give the zucchini a better flavor. To have perfect stuffed zucchini, you must use the juice of 1-2 fresh lemons and just coat the inside of each hollowed zucchini thoroughly. The acid in the lemon juice transforms the tasteless texture of the zucchini into a texture that perfectly complements the stuffing. Along with the lemon juice, sprinkle some salt and pepper inside the zucchini and move on to stuffing next.

You Need a Corer to Hollow the Zucchini

This recipe is different from zucchini boats in that you keep the whole zucchini and remove the core of the zucchini without breaking the outer layer. This step unfortunately cannot be done with a knife or a spoon so I highly recommend that you purchase a high quality corer from Amazon or your local Mediterranean grocery store. 

Hollowing the zucchini isn’t easy if your fine motor skills aren’t strong. The reason why I know it so well is because I watched the women in my family make this dish since I was a child. My grandmother had the ability to use the corer perfectly without even paying attention to the zucchini. 

Here is a great video I found on YouTube that will help you understand how to position your hands and how the hollowing motion works. 

Stuffed Zucchini Ingredients

  • 10 medium size zucchini
  • 1 lbs ground lamb or beef or mixed
  • 1 cup of rice; soaked in water for 5 minutes.
  • 1 tomato; grated
  • fresh Italian parsley; finely chopped
  • 1 tbsp pepper paste (optional)
  • 1 tbsp tomato paste (optional)
  • 3 cloves of garlic; minced
  • half of an onion; chopped
  • salt, pepper, crushed red pepper, oregano or dried mint
  • 1-2 lemons


1. Wash the zucchinis and remove the top with a knife
2. Use a zucchini corer to remove the core of each zucchini. Place the zucchini in your left palm (right handed) with the bottom of the zucchini on top. Dip the corer carefully in the center of the zucchini and gently rotate it and remove the core gradually repeating the same motion. 
3. Coat the inside of each zucchini with salt pepper and fresh lemon juice

4. In a large bowl mix by hand to combine minced garlic, onions, rice, ground lamb, parsley, grated tomato, pepper and tomato paste and all the spices.

5. Stuff the zucchinis with your hand. Make sure to leave some room on top for the rice to expand after cooking. 

6. Optional: You can cap each zucchini with a small slice of tomato with the skin. 

7. In a medium-large pot, drizzle some olive oil and place the zucchinis.

8. Heat up 2-3 cups of hot water (just enough to cover the zucchinis), stir in a tbsp of tomato or pepper paste. If you don’t have neither, you can grate an additional tomato in the water. Add a pinch of salt and pepper. Pour the mixture over the zucchini. 

9. In order to prevent the stuffed zucchinis from moving while cooking, place a small plate on the zucchinis upside down and cover the pot with the lid.

10. Bring the stuffed zucchinis to a boil first and then cook on low-medium heat for 20-30 minutes. 

11. Enjoy with some  tzatziki soup aka cacik and Mediterranean pickles.

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