Stuffed round zucchini, or 8-ball zucchini, is a hearty dinner recipe made with beef, tomato sauce, rice, and Italian seasoning. A fun twist on classic stuffed zucchini boats!
Round zucchini, or 8-ball zucchini, is a hybrid variety of zucchini that's round and softball sized. Other than the shape, it's just like a standard zucchini in every way.
For this recipe, we'll hollow out two round zucchini, stuff them with beef and tomato rice filling, then bake until tender. If you don't have round zucchini on hand, the filling can be added to regular zucchini or bell peppers.
Serve stuffed round zucchini this summer as a fun twist on classic zucchini boats. Add a side salad or some garlic bread for a complete meal.
Ingredients and substitutions
- Oil - Olive oil can be substituted with any cooking oil you have on hand.
- Onion - Adds flavor to the filling. I don't recommend omitting it.
- Garlic - Adds flavor to the filling. If you don't have fresh garlic on hand, it can be substituted with ¼ teaspoon of garlic powder (added with the other seasonings).
- Tomato sauce - 8 ounces of tomato sauce and half of the listed Italian seasoning can be substituted with marinara sauce or spaghetti sauce.
- Round zucchini - For this recipe, you'll need two large round zucchini, about 4-6 inches wide, or three to four smaller round zucchini. If you don't have round zucchini on hand, the filling can be stuffed into three medium zucchini or three bell peppers. I've included alternate directions for both in the recipe card below.
- Seasoning - Salt, pepper, and Italian seasoning add flavor to the filling.
- Rice - Any cooked rice will work in this recipe. I used cooked white rice.
- Mozzarella cheese - Can be substituted with your favorite melty cheese like cheddar cheese or gruyere cheese.
How to prepare round zucchini
Preparing round zucchini is much like hollowing out a small Halloween pumpkin.
First, make diagonal slices around the stem, then pop the stem off. This creates the opening of your bowl. Make sure it's wide enough to add filling and eat from later on.
Then, use a metal spoon (or melon baller) to gently scoop the zucchini flesh out. Leave about ¼" of flesh attached to the skin around the edges and bottom.
Do I need to peel my zucchini?
No, there's no need to peel your round zucchini. In fact, the skin contains many nutrients and fiber you'd otherwise be missing out on. The skin also helps hold the shape of your bowls as they bake.
The skin of zucchini is perfectly edible and can be enjoyed with the rest of the zucchini bowl.
Ways to use leftover zucchini flesh
For this recipe, we're scooping out and discarding the inner zucchini flesh. Leftover zucchini flesh can be refrigerated and used to make smoothies, pesto, or zucchini cake. Here are a few recipe ideas:
- Chocolate zucchini smoothie
- Blueberry zucchini smoothie
- Zucchini pesto
- Chocolate zucchini snack cake
What to serve with stuffed zucchini
Wondering what to serve with stuffed zucchini? Here are a few of my favorite sides:
- Garlic bread
- Zucchini pesto pasta
- Side salad
- Roasted veggies
- Roasted potatoes
For a full list of side dish ideas, check out my post: side dishes to serve with zucchini boats
Stuffed Round Zucchini
- 2 medium round zucchini
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- ½ small onion, diced
- 1 clove garlic, minced
- 8 ounces ground beef
- 8 ounces tomato sauce
- ½ teaspoon Italian seasoning
- ¼ teaspoon salt
- ¼ teaspoon pepper
- 1 cup cooked white rice
- ½ cup shredded mozzarella cheese
- Preheat oven to 400 degrees Fahrenheit. Lightly grease a casserole dish that will fit your round zucchini and set aside.
- Cut diagonal slices around the stem of each round zucchini, then pop the stem off. Use a metal spoon or melon baller to scoop the zucchini flesh out and discard (or save for another recipe). Leave about ¼" of flesh attached to the skin around the edges and bottom.
- Place into prepared casserole dish and bake for 10 minutes.
- Meanwhile, in a skillet over medium heat, add olive oil. Add diced onion and cook for about 3-4 minutes, or until edges begin to brown. Add garlic and cook an additional 30 seconds. Crumble ground beef into pan and cook until browned. Remove from heat. Add tomato sauce, Italian seasoning, salt, pepper, and rice. Stir to combine.
- Spoon prepared filling into your zucchini. Top with shredded cheese. Bake for about 10-15 minutes, or until zucchini can easily be pierced through with a fork.
- To use regular zucchini - Cut the stems off three medium zucchini, then slice in half lengthwise. Using a spoon, carefully scape out some of the flesh from each zucchini half and discard (or save for another recipe). Then, continue as written above.
- To use bell peppers - Slice three bell peppers in half and scoop out seeds and innards. When par-baking in step 3, bake for 20 minutes instead of the listed 10 minutes). Then, continue as written above.
- The listed filling may fill more than two round zucchini - this depends entirely on the size of the zucchini you have on hand. Round zucchini can also be sliced in half to make four classic zucchini boats.