Zucchini Boats

My parents just left for a two week Mediterranean cruise involving Tuscan wine tours and Greek islands. It is their 25th wedding anniversary gift to themselves, to spend 14 days across the world together, away from their very own lovely daughters (even though I live two hours away and don’t seem them everyday already) but 14 days they just could not imagine spending with the glorious fruits of their labor, but rather, with a group of friends.

It made me realize the ironic conundrum of a situation a lot of people may deal with in their twenties. We spend almost our entire youthful years trying to get away from our parents, to be independent, slamming our bedroom doors in their faces and blasting music to tune out their telling us to eat vegetables, and on family trips, faces in our phones wishing we were with friends instead. And yet, when we are finally off, whisked away by the wind into our own, we realize our time with them, as cynical a realization as this may be, is unfairly limited, and that we would rather be spending time with them on a gorgeous cruise sipping Brunello di Montalcini than anything else. And with their contemptuous remarks such as,“Well you can join us if you pay for it,” I knew there was only one thing I could do: be happy for them.

So, as my parents dine on authentic pasta ragu and juicy, tzatziki sauce covered Greek cuisine, I am left hungry in a solitary studio apartment to fend for myself. This recipe of stuffed zucchini boats is Italian inspired, and hey, with this meal you have a boat, a bit of Italy, maybe a glass of wine, and it’s as if you’re cruising along with my (amazing, and whom I am very grateful) parents.

You’ll Need

2 large zucchini, cut in half lengthwise with middle spooned out

Garlic powder, onion powder and ground red pepper to your liking

1 large yellow squash, cut in chunks

½ lb. ground beef

1 can black beans

8 oz. can of diced tomatoes

½ cup of parmesan cheese, for serving

Salt, pepper

Brown ground beef and drain juices. Add in spices, yellow squash, black beans, cooked rice (if desired), tomatoes, and anything else you’d like to add. Cover and let cook. Meanwhile,  boil zucchini halves in water for a few minutes until tender. (This is especially important when using large zucchini because it will help it cook all the way through when it is time for baking). Place the zucchini on baking dish, sprinkle with olive oil, salt and pepper. Once yellow squash is tender and the spices have absorbed in the filling,  spoon into zucchini crevice, top with marinara sauce and cook at 350 for 20 minutes. Before removing from oven, sprinkle tops with grated parmesan cheese and let melt.

Perfect for cutting up and freezing for the future!  

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