Jul 22, 2013

Al’s (Vegan) Zucchini Boats

I am dedicating this recipe to my step-dad who departed us over twenty years ago. He was a big man, both in body and heart. And he loved his meat and potatoes. Al also knew his way around the kitchen! One of his favorite things to make was zucchini boats. He and my mom had a backyard garden with oodles of tomatoes and zucchini. He loaded up those extra big zucchinis with ground beef, Italian sausage and mozzarella cheese. They were pretty spectacular and he was rightly proud of those creations.

When the doctors told Al that his blood pressure was high, he dismissed the matter, saying that he felt fine. Years later he developed kidney disease and wound up on dialysis. Very unfortunate and totally avoidable… plant-based eating was very “fringe” at that time (“vegetarians are hippies”) and even if he had learned about the health benefits of eliminating animal products from his diet, I doubt that he would have. As I said, Al liked his meat and potatoes… and cheese.

This one’s for you, Al… I miss you! xo


  • 1 very LARGE zucchini… mine was about 12″ long!
  • 1 medium sized zucchini, chopped
  • 1 large onion, chopped
  • 1 tomato, chopped
  • 6 cloves garlic, minced
  • 2 cups vegan ground “meat”… recipe here
  • 1 tsp dried basil
  • 1 tsp dried oregano
  • 1 tsp fennel seeds
  • ½ tsp red pepper flakes (or to taste)
  • 1 large jar of your favorite tomato sauce (I use Walnut Acres, low sodium)
  • small amount of vegan cheese to top (optional)
prior to baking
  1. Preheat oven to 350° F.
  2. Water sauté the onion until translucent.
  3. While the onions are cooking, prepare a large casserole dish. Coat it with a small amount of oil, then spread half of the tomato sauce on the bottom.
  4. Slice the top off the large zucchini, cut it in half lengthways and scoop out the center seeds and a bit of the flesh to create an area to put the stuffing (save the seeds and excess flesh for a soup or toss it in a smoothie!)
  5. Place the zucchini boat halves in the casserole dish, cut side up.
  6. When the onions are translucent, add the chopped tomato, chopped zucchini, spices and “meat.” Add a bit more water if needed to prevent sticking. Simmer for about 10 minutes. You want to combine everything well but not totally cook the rest of the ingredients because they will continue to cook when you bake the boats.
  7. Stuff the large zucchini halves with the stuffing mixture and top with the remaining half jar of sauce.
  8. COVER tightly and bake for about 45 minutes-1 hour or until the zucchini boats are just tender. 
  9. If topping with vegan cheese, add it after the boats are done and place them back in the oven on BROIL for another few minutes until the cheese is melted.
Serves 4. Enjoy!
~ Al, circa 1984 ~

Healthy trails,

4 responses to “Al’s (Vegan) Zucchini Boats”

  1. That looks delicious. I like the idea of the "meat" consisting of something besides soy. Mmmmm!

  2. Helyn says:

    Thanks, Karen! YES. The meat is amazing. I usually make a lot of it and freeze it. It's good in so many different recipes! 🙂

  3. Maren says:

    These were great, and a nice dish for company. We really liked the creative meat substitute, and homemade tomato sauce enhanced the dish. Will repeat it!

  4. Helyn says:

    Excellent! So glad you enjoyed it 🙂

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