Cheesy Stuffed Zucchini (zucchine ripiene) is a classic summer recipe from the Italian countryside.
Today I’m channeling my inner Italian Nonna to make these cheesy stuffed zucchini, straight from the Sicilian countryside. This is the ideal dish to make when you’re faced with
larger ginormous zucchini (save the slender guys for Zucchini and Lemon Pasta or Zucchini Pie.) This idea of stuffing and baking summer veggies is a time honored Mediterranean tradition. But while here in America we tend to stuff sliced zucchini boats, the Italians like to stuff and bake zucchini logs, either whole or sliced into rounds. We’re turning a simple veggie into a hearty side dish or light meal.
what you’ll need for stuffed zucchini
One glance at the ingredient list and you know you can’t go wrong with this lineup!
- extra large zucchini
- large fat zucchini work best for this dish.
- tomato sauce
- ricotta cheese
- shredded Italian cheese
- seasoned bread crumbs
- toasted pine nuts
- olive oil
- fresh herbs
- I used basil, chives, and parsley
- salt and pepper
how to make stuffed zucchini, step by step
step 1. Slice the zucchini
Slice large zucchini into 2 inch slices.
step 2. Hollow out the centers
Use a small spoon or paring knife to hollow out the zucchini slices. If your zucchini are very large the centers will be seedy and spongy. No worries, just remove it, the rest of the squash will cook up beautifully tender.
Step 3. Layer tomato sauce in your pan
A layer of your favorite homemade or jarred tomato sauce at the bottom of the pan provides moisture as the zucchini bakes, and a sauce for the finished dish, so be generous.
step 4. Stuff zucchini with cheese mixture
Fit your zucchini slices snugly into the pan. Stuff each slice with a ricotta cheese mixture.
step 5. Top with cheesy breadcrumbs
Top each stuffed zucchini round with a generous layer of crumbs. Don’t worry if some of them fall into the sauce.
step 6. Bake until tender.
Stuffed zucchini takes time…about an hour or so until the zucchini is tender. Be patient, the results are so worth it. Check for doneness with the tip of a sharp knife: it should glide easily into the thickest part of your zucchini.
step 7. Enjoy!
The zucchini is firm but tender, the cheese is soft and bubbly, and the topping is satisfyingly crunchy. But enough with the adjectives…let’s eat!
how to serve stuffed zucchini
As written this makes a lovely side dish, or a light lunch with a salad. For dinner I’d serve it with meatloaf, steak, baked chicken, or any kind of fish dish. Serve with pasta for a vegetarian meal.
more zucchini recipes
- Zucchini and Lemon Pasta
- Zucchini Cake with Cream Cheese Frosting
- Perfect Zucchini Muffins
- Blue Ribbon Zucchini Pie
- Zucchini Parmesan Crisps
- Perfect Zucchini Muffins
- Caramel Frosted Zucchini Pecan Bars
Cheesy Stuffed Zucchini
- sheet pan with sides or other large baking dish
- 3-4 extra large zucchini
- 4 cups tomato sauce or marinara sauce
- extra virgin olive oil
- 1 cup seasoned bread crumbs
- 4 Tbsp salted butter, melted
- 1/2 cup toasted pine nuts
- 2/3 cup shredded Italian cheese
- Preheat oven to 375F
- Slice your zucchini into 2 inch slices. Scoop out the seedy centers with a small spoon (you can also use a paring knife) and discard.
- Spread the tomato sauce evenly into your pan. Fit the zucchini snugly into the pan over the sauce.
- Whisk the cheese filling together to combine well. Stuff each zucchini with the filling.
- Toss the topping ingredients together until well combined. Spoon the topping over each zucchini, and don't worry if some of the topping falls into the sauce.
- Cover your pan with foil and bake for 45 minutes. Remove the foil and give the pan a light drizzle of olive oil. Then bake for another 15 minutes, or until the zucchini is tender and the topping is golden. Note: test the zucchini for donerness with the tip of a sharp knife, it should slide in easily. If not, cook for a while longer.
- Serve each zucchini with some of the tomato sauce.