This post is sponsored by Uncle Steve’s Italian Specialties.
These bolognese stuffed zucchini with pesto are a satisfying and summery Whole30 meal made with organic tomato basil sauce, ground beef, and plenty of fresh pesto on top.
How is summer treating you so far? Here in Chattanooga it’s been nice and hot (just the way I like it!) and we’ve been getting in a lot of swimming. I’ve also been working on my tan while doing my farm share work, and loving the first rounds of summer produce showing up, like zucchini, basil, and even a few tomatoes.
I used my early squash to make these bolognese stuffed zucchini with pesto, which combine seasonal vegetables and a few pantry staples to make an easy but hearty paleo dinner.
And no, I’m not suggesting you make a true bolognese sauce that needs to simmer away for hours in this heat. This is a bit of a cheater’s bolognese, because we’re letting Uncle Steve’s do the hard work for us. Their organic tomato basil sauce is so flavorful that all we have to do is brown the ground beef with a little onion, and stir in the sauce. The resulting filling will fool all your lucky dinner companions into thinking you worked all day to handcraft an authentic Italian sauce.
If you haven’t made stuffed zucchini before, don’t worry because it’s super easy. You just use a regular old spoon to scoop out the filling, then roast the squash boats on their own for a few minutes while you prepare the bolognese filling. If your zucchini or summer squash are tiny, early-season ones like mine, be a little careful–I broke a couple of squash halves getting a bit too aggressive with the spoon! (Don’t worry, we still ate them. They just didn’t make it into the photos!)
Once the bolognese filling is ready, just spoon it into the zucchini boats and roast one more time for about 15 minutes. Then, right before serving, drizzle a bunch of pesto on top. The double whammy of basil in the sauce and the pesto makes these boats super flavorful and delicious! You can use any pesto you like (make sure there’s no cheese in it for Whole30–I’ve linked to a couple of my favorites below in the notes).
I absolutely love having Uncle Steve’s sauces on hand to add quick flavor to everyday meals, and am thrilled to have a tomato sauce option that’s organic, paleo, and vegan with no added sugar. In case you missed it, last month I shared an amazing Whole30 breakfast using their spicy arrabiata sauce. When you get a chance to try their sauces, I want to hear if you love them as much as I do!
Happy summer, and happy zucchini stuffing!
- 1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil, plus more as needed
- 1 medium red onion, finely chopped
- 6-8 small zucchini and/or summer squash
- Sea salt
- 1 pound ground beef
- Freshly ground black pepper
- 1 teaspoon dried oregano
- 1½ cups Uncle Steve’s Organic Tomato Basil Sauce
- ⅓ cup pesto*
- Preheat the oven to 400°F and line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
- Heat a large skillet over medium heat. When the pan is hot, add the olive oil. Once the oil is hot, add the onion and cook, stirring occasionally, for about 10 minutes, until beginning to brown.
- While the onion is cooking, halve the squash lengthwise and use a spoon to scoop out the seedy pulp from the center, reserving it to use in the filling. Place the hollowed out zucchini boats on the baking sheet and sprinkle with sea salt. Put them in the oven to roast while you continue to prepare the filling.
- Once the onion is a bit browned, push it to the edges of the skillet and raise the heat to medium-high. Add the ground beef and cook, stirring occasionally and breaking up the meat with a spatula, until no longer pink. Chop the reserved squash pulp and add it to the meat along with a few grinds of black pepper a few pinches of sea salt, the oregano, and the tomato sauce. Bring to a simmer and cook for five minutes, stirring occasionally. Taste the bolognese sauce and add salt and/or pepper if needed. Remove from the heat.
- Take the zucchini boats out of the oven. They should appear dry around the edges. If there is liquid in the center, carefully pour it out or blot it with paper towels.
- Spoon the bolognese sauce into the zucchini boats and bake for 15-20 minutes, until bubbly and browned in spots.
- Use a long spatula to carefully transfer the boats to plates or a serving platter. If necessary, thin out your pesto with olive oil so it's a pourable consistency. Drizzle the zucchini boats with the pesto and serve hot.
- Leftovers reheat well on a baking sheet covered with foil in a 350° oven. If you know you won't be eating the stuffed zucchini right away, wait to add the pesto until you're ready to eat them.
This post is sponsored by Uncle Steve’s Italian Specialties. Thank you so much for supporting the sponsors that keep A Calculated Whisk up and running!