These Mexican-Style Stuffed Zucchini Boats are made with a taco-spiced tempeh filling and topped with fresh tomatoes and avocado for an easy weeknight vegan and gluten-free dinner.
Do we have time for one more zucchini recipe before the season officially turns to fall?
I think yes!
While this is probably my last zucchini recipe of the season, I do believe I saved one of the best for last. You loved my vegan zucchini bread and these zucchini noodles with pesto and I’m confident that you’re going to love these Mexican-Style Stuffed Zucchini Boats, too!
Let’s take a closer look!
Recommended Ingredients & Equipment
You’re going to love this fresh zucchini stuffed with taco-spiced ground tempeh and sautéed onions that are topped with a whole lotta vegetables and fresh herbs. It’s an easy-to-throw-together weeknight meal that is not only both vegan and gluten-free but also 100% satisfying.
Ingredients & Substitutions
- Zucchini – Summer squash is a great alternative if that is what you have on hand.
- Tempeh – I use tempeh because it resembled ground beef in taste and texture. Tempeh has a subtle nutty flavor that can be enhanced when seasoned properly and it crumbles beautifully into a similar ground beef texture. If you want to avoid soy, substitute with cooked lentils.
- Oil – Olive or avocado oil are best
- Red Onion
- Taco Seasoning
- Tomato Sauce
- Salt & Pepper
- Toppings – Avocado, tomato, red onion, olives, fresh cilantro, and vegan queso are my recommended toppings.
Check out the full list of my recommended kitchen tools and gadgets.
How to Make Vegan Zucchini Boats
Step One – Prepare your Zucchini
Slice your zucchini lengthwise and scoop out the fleshy middle. If your zucchini is hard, I found that using a grapefruit spoon or something serrated makes this easier. For softer zucchinis, a regular spoon should work just fine.
As you scoop out the middle, keep about 1/4″ of zucchini around all sides to give it the support it needs for the fillings and toppings. The filling can be either discarded OR, better yet, cooked and puréed to be used as an egg replacer in your holiday baking.
Once the zucchini flesh is scooped out, lightly brush the zucchinis with 1 tablespoon of olive oil and set aside.
Step Two – Make the Filling
Heat oil in a large cast iron skillet over medium heat. Add diced onions and sauté until onions are fragrant and translucent about 5 minutes. While onions are cooking, crumble the tempeh between your fingers so that it resembles ground beef.
Once the onions are translucent and fragrant, add the crumbled tempeh along with taco seasoning, sautéing them all together until the tempeh is browned. When the tempeh is done, add tomato sauce and water. This both binds the filling together while giving it a full-body flavor.
Step Three – Assemble and Bake
To assemble the zucchini boats, evenly spread the taco-spiced tempeh into your prepared zucchini packing it down as much as possible and rounding up the top. As the filling bakes, it will release water, making the tempeh shrink. That is why you want to pack them as much as possible so that you finish with beautifully full zucchini.
Bake, covered, to prevent the tempeh from burning – for at least 30 minutes. At that point, check to see if the zucchinis are tender by poking the sides with a fork. If the fork is easily inserted, you can remove your zucchini boats from the oven. If the zucchini is still firm, remove the cover and bake it for another 10-15 minutes. The baking time on this will largely depend on the size and firmness of your zucchini.
Once the zucchini boats are done, pull them out of the oven and let them cool 10 minutes before topping them to keep your toppings as fresh as can be.
Serving and Storing
Let the zucchini cool for 10 minutes before topping with avocado, tomatoes, cilantro, and olives. Serve immediately.
Zucchini boats do not store well. You will want to eat them within an hour of baking.
To make in advance, you can make your filling and place it in the refrigerator for up to 2 days until you are ready to assemble your boats.
Tips and Tricks
- When cutting the zucchini, keep about 1/4″ of zucchini around all sides to give it the support it needs for the fillings and toppings.
- Cover the zucchini when baking. Otherwise, the tempeh may burn before the zucchini has cooked all the way through.
- Don’t like tempeh? Substitute with the same amount of cooked brown lentils.
More Vegan Zucchini Recipes
- Fudgy Zucchini Brownies
- Zucchini Noodles with Vegan Pesto
- Double Chocolate Zucchini Muffins
- Zucchini Noodle Lasagna with Seasoned Tempeh
- The BEST vegan Zucchini Bread
Mexican-Style Stuffed Zucchini Boats
Stuffed Zucchini Boats
- 1/2 large avocado, peeled and diced
- 1 Roma tomato, diced
- 1/3 cup black olives
- 1/4 cup fresh cilantro, stems removed
- 1/4 cup cauliflower queso or vegan nacho cheese, optional
- Preheat oven to 400. Line a 9x12 baking dish with tin foil and set aside.
- Cut the zucchinis in half lengthwise. With a grapefruit spoon scoop out the inside pulp of the zucchini leaving about 1/4" around the sides. Place inside the prepared baking dish, brush with 1 tablespoon of olive oil, and set aside.
- Heat oil in a large cast iron skillet over medium heat. Add diced onions and sauté until onions are fragrant and translucent about 5 minutes. While onions are cooking, crumble the tempeh between your fingers so that it resembles ground beef.
- Add crumbled tempeh and taco seasoning to the onion, stirring to coat. Cook for another 3-5 minutes until tempeh is browned. Stir in tomato sauce and water. Let cook, stirring occasionally until water has mostly evaporated. About 3 minutes.
- Spoon taco tempeh filling into the zucchini cavities so that it fills it up with a rounded top. Bake, covered, for 35 minutes. Remove tin foil and bake for an additional 10-15 minutes until zucchini is easily pierced with a fork.
- While zucchini boats are baking, prepare your toppings.
- Remove zucchini boats from the oven, let cool 10 minutes. Sprinkle with toppings and serve immediately.