I look at the photo of these Italian Sausage Stuffed Zucchini and I’m all like, “Oooh, that looks delicious. …But complicated and like there are a million ingredients.” But no, my friend, no. It’s not complicated and it doesn’t have a lot of ingredients!
I have to say I surprised myself with this one. After I popped these puppies into the oven I looked around and was flabbergasted at how little I had to clean up (food blogging usually uses twice as many dishes and utensils as “normal” cooking). Then, after they came out of the oven, I had my first taste and was like, “Woooaahhh… I hit the jackpot here.” Using Italian sausage, which is heavily seasoned on its own, once agains proves to be an amazing short cut. Because there are so many herbs and spices built into the sausage, there is very little you have to add to make the whole dish full of bold flavor. Love it.
I served my Italian Sausage Stuffed Zucchini with a little seasoned rice and called it a day. A very good day, I should say!
Italian Sausage Stuffed Zucchini
Italian Sausage Stuffed Zucchini
Italian Sausage Stuffed Zucchini is a simple, flavorful, and lighter alternative to lasagna. Step by step photos.
- 4 medium zucchini (6-7" long) $2.36
- 1 Tbsp olive oil $0.16
- 1/2 lb. Italian sausage (mild, hot, or sweet) $2.00
- 2 cloves garlic, minced $0.16
- 1/2 cup plain bread crumbs $0.20
- 1 cup shredded Italian cheese blend* $0.76
- 24 oz. jar pasta sauce $1.29
- Salt and pepper to taste $0.05
- Wash the zucchini well, then slice each one in half lengthwise. Use a spoon or a melon baller to remove the flesh from the center of the zucchini halves, leaving a 1/4 inch rim around each. Place the scooped out zucchini halves in a 9x13" casserole dish or on a large baking sheet. Roughly chop the scooped out zucchini flesh into small pieces and set aside.
- Add the olive oil and Italian sausage to a large skillet and sauté over medium heat. Break the sausage up into small pieces as you sauté and cook until the sausage is thoroughly browned (about 5 minutes). Drain off the excess fat.
- Add the minced garlic and chopped zucchini to the skillet and continue to sauté until the zucchini pieces are soft (about 5 minutes more). Remove the skillet from the heat.
- Begin to preheat the oven to 375ºF. Transfer the sautéed sausage and zucchini to a large bowl. Add the bread crumbs, 1/2 cup of the shredded cheese, and 1/4 cup of the pasta sauce. Stir until everything is evenly combined. Taste and add a pinch of salt and pepper if needed.
- Stuff the scooped out zucchini halves with the sausage mixture. Pour the remaining pasta sauce over the zucchini, leaving some of the stuffing exposed so it can brown and crisp up. It's okay if you don't use all the sauce.
- Bake the zucchini in the preheated oven for 30-35 minutes, or until the stuffing is brown and crispy and the zucchini are tender. Add the remaining shredded cheese and continue to bake for 2-3 minutes, or until the cheese is melted. Serve hot.
*The cheese blend I used was a mixture of Parmesan, Provolone, Mozzarella, and Asiago. If you can't find a similar blend, you can use finely shredded mozzarella.
Step by Step Photos
Start with four medium-sized zucchini (6-7″ long). Wash them well, then slice each one in half lengthwise. Use a spoon or melon baller to scoop the flesh out of the center, leaving a 1/4-1/2″ rim around each one. Place the scooped out zucchinis in a 9×13″ casserole dish, or on a baking sheet.
Don’t throw away the zucchini flesh that you scooped out of the center! Roughly chop it into small pieces because it will be mixed in with the Italian sausage. You want to make the pieces roughly the size of crumbled sausage. Set the chopped zucchini aside.
Add 1 Tbsp olive oil and 1/2 lb. Italian sausage to a large skillet. Sauté over medium heat, breaking up the sausage as it cooks, until it is thoroughly browned (about five minutes). Drain off the excess fat. I bought a package of 5 links which were about 4oz. each. I used two links and froze the rest. Because I wanted crumbled sausage, I just squeezed the meat out of the casing into the skillet.
Add the chopped zucchini pieces and two cloves of minced garlic to the skillet. Continue to sauté until the zucchini is soft (another 5 minutes or so). Remove the skillet from the heat. Begin to preheat the oven to 375ºF.
Transfer the cooked sausage and zucchini to a large bowl, then add 1/2 cup plain bread crumbs, 1/4 cup pasta sauce, and 1/2 cup shredded Italian cheese blend. Stir until everything is combined, then taste and add a pinch of salt and pepper if needed.
Italian cheese blends like this can be found in most major grocery stores now, but if you can’t find something similar, you can just use finely shredded mozzarella. Mine was also on sale for $1.50. Woot!!
Finally, stuff the zucchini with the prepared filling.
Pour the rest of your 24oz. jar of sauce (or most of it) over the stuffed zucchini. I just poured two strips of sauce over the dish so that some of the stuffing would remain exposed and get nice and crispy in the oven.
Bake the zucchini in the preheated oven for 30-35 minutes, or until the stuffing is brown and crispy on the edges and the zucchini have softened some. Add the remaining 1/2 cup of shredded cheese and then bake for 2-3 minutes more, or until the cheese is melty.
And then you have THIS. (I garnished with chopped parsley for the photos, but it’s not necessary.)
Seriously. Look at that.
And yet some how these Italian Sausage Stuffed Zucchini taste even better than they look. 🙌