Move over, zucchini bread! There's a new way to use up all of those summer zucchinis, and it's even more delicious. These Lebanese Stuffed Zucchini in Tomato Sauce are the perfect way to celebrate all that fresh produce. Filled with spiced vegan meat and rice, they're hearty and satisfying. Plus, they're easy to make, so you can have a delicious dinner ready in no time. Whether you're looking for a new weeknight meal or something special for guests, these stuffed zucchini are sure to please. Give them a try tonight!
Although the summer season is almost gone, zucchini is one of the summer squashes available year-round. Smaller zucchini tend to have a better flavor and texture, while medium to large zucchini is best saved for baked goods or stuffing.
This stuffed zucchini recipe uses the whole vegetable, the zucchini shells to keep the spiced minced vegan meat and rice stuffing inside, and the zucchini flesh to combine with the tomato sauce.
Make this stuffed zucchini with rice with a few ingredients that are super easy to find. Even the 7 spices mix is easily made at home with spices you might already have in your pantry.
One thing we did to make this stuffed zucchini vegan was to replace ground beef with vegan mock meat.
- Zucchini is used as the main ingredient for the stuffed zucchini recipe, providing a tender and mildly sweet flavor while serving as a vessel to hold the stuffing.
- Vegetable broth adds moisture and enhances the overall taste of the dish, infusing the zucchini and other ingredients with savory notes.
- Long-grain rice contributes to the stuffing mixture by adding a fluffy texture and absorbing flavors from other ingredients, resulting in a satisfying filling.
- The ground beef-less mock meat serves as a plant-based substitute for traditional ground beef, providing a meaty texture and enhancing the umami flavor of the stuffing.
- Onion adds depth and sweetness to the stuffing mixture, enhancing the overall flavor profile.
- Tomatoes bring a tangy and slightly acidic taste to the stuffing, adding brightness and balancing the richness of other ingredients.
- Fresh parsley adds freshness and a hint of herbaceous flavor, complementing the other ingredients and adding a vibrant touch.
- Fresh dill contributes a unique and refreshing flavor to the stuffing, enhancing the overall aromatic profile of the dish.
- Lebanese 7 spice is a blend of flavorful spices that adds complexity and a distinct Middle Eastern taste to the dish, elevating the overall flavor profile.
- Garlic clove: Garlic lends its pungent and aromatic qualities to the stuffing, adding depth and a savory kick to the overall taste.
- Salt and pepper are essential seasonings that balance and enhance the flavors of all the ingredients, ensuring a well-seasoned and delicious final dish.
See the recipe card for quantities.
Combine the diced tomatoes, onions, and herbs with the mock meat and spices in a bowl.
Optionally add pinenuts to the rice mixture to add a nutty flavor.
Hint: Insert your potato peeler or corer about ¾ of the way into the zucchini, making sure not to poke the bottoms.
Scrape the sides of the zucchini with a pointed potato peeler or a small spoon until you have hollowed each out.
Reserve the zucchini insides.
Pierce the zucchini shells with a fork.
Combine the tomato dice with the zucchini flesh.
You don't need to cook rice beforehand because it will cook inside the zucchini with the heat in the saucepan.
Add a little oil to the bottom of the saucepan.
Arrange the zucchini stuffed with rice (filling about ¾ of the way) next to each other so they don't flip.
Add the tomato sauce and chopped zucchini pulp. Top with a plate to further prevent them from flipping. Cook on medium heat until the rice is cooked.
Serve plated with tomato juice, a drizzle of olive oil, extra dill, and pine nuts.
This simple dish can take many substitutions and still be delicious.
- Rice - You can use brown rice or wild rice instead of long-grain rice. Using rice versus any other starchy good such as wheat couscous, make this vegan zucchini recipe, which is also gluten-free.
- Tomato - any kind of ripe tomato works; you can even use canned diced or crushed tomatoes, or marinara sauce.
- Fresh herbs - herbs are important for this recipe. You can use curled parsley instead of flat leave parsley. We find dill to be the most characteristic herb flavor popping out on this recipe, but if you don't love it, you could use finely chopped mint or
- Vegan mock meat protein - we use Trader's Joe's mock minced vegan meat to replace non-vegan options like Italian sausage, ground turkey, or turkey sausage, but have made this recipe with the Daya's, Beyond Meat brick, and impossible burger vegan "ground beef."
- Rice leftovers - you can use cooked rice or leftover rice from this vegan stuffed zucchini recipe. Just reduce the cooking time until the zucchini is soft enough.
- Tomato - if you want to make the tomato sauce flavor more intense, add two tablespoons of tomato paste.
- Lebanese seven spice mix - another important seasoning in this recipe. To make stuffed zucchini Lebanese, you need it; if you don't have this mix, or the spices to make put it together at home, you could use Italian seasoning and add a pinch of the components of the 7 spices mix, such as cinnamon, cumin, allspice, black pepper, coriander, nutmeg, and cloves.
- Herbs - you can use oregano and basil to sub parsley and dill.
🥢 How to serve
Although making this vegetarian stuffed zucchini with rice is super easy, a couple of kitchen utensils can make a big difference. You will avoid making a mess by using the right cooking pot size and zucchini corer.
To hollow the zucchini, find that using a pointed potato peeler makes everything easier, but you can also use a small spoon. I like using this metal potato peeler (affiliate link), turning the zucchini to make the first hole, and then continuing to scrape with a tiny spoon.
Store the vegetarian stuffed zucchini with rice in an airtight container in the fridge for 2-3 days.
When it comes to reheating Lebanese stuffed zucchini, you have several options to bring back their delicious flavors and textures after storing them in the refrigerator.
One of the quickest methods is to use a microwave. Place the stuffed zucchini on a microwave-safe plate, cover them with a microwave-safe lid or plastic wrap to retain moisture, and heat them in short intervals, checking for doneness in between. This method is convenient and time-saving but may result in slightly softer zucchini.
For a more oven-baked taste, using the oven is a great choice. Preheat the oven to a moderate temperature and transfer the stuffed zucchini onto a baking sheet or dish. Cover the dish with foil to prevent excessive drying, and then place it in the oven. Allow them to reheat slowly for a sufficient amount of time, typically around 15-20 minutes, or until the zucchini are heated through. This method ensures a more consistent reheating, maintaining the texture and flavors of the dish.
Another alternative is to utilize a large skillet on the stovetop. Start by heating the skillet over medium heat and adding a small amount of oil or cooking spray to prevent sticking. Place the stuffed zucchini in the skillet and cover it with a lid to trap the steam. Cook for a few minutes on each side, flipping them gently to ensure even heating. This method is ideal for those who prefer a slightly crisp exterior while reheating.
Regardless of your chosen method, always ensure that the stuffed zucchini reaches an internal temperature of at least 165°F (74°C) to ensure they are thoroughly heated.
Serve them warm and enjoy the delectable taste once again, brought back to life with the reheating process.
Can you freeze Lebanese zucchini?
I don't recommend freezing the zucchini, as they tend to turn soggy after thawing, but this stuffed zucchini recipe is freezer friendly; you just fully cook them before freezing. They last for up to 3 months in an air-tight container. To reheat, thaw them in the fridge overnight before consuming, and warm them in a saucepan.
💡 Top tip
This delicious meal has everything to make the main dish: vegetables, vegan ground beef, and carbohydrates, so there is no need to pair it with something else, making it perfect for meal prep.
With a pointed potato peeler, twist it inside the zucchini with a circular motion, and scoop the remaining insides with a small teaspoon.
A Lebanese dish consists of ground meat (Lebanese seasonings, tomato sauce, rice, and ground beef or lamb(in this recipe, we use vegan mock meat) stuffed into a summer squash, such as zucchini.
Zucchini is low in calories and are packed with carotenoids and antioxidants (source). This may benefit your eyes and skin and protect against some types of cancer, such as prostate cancer.
🥒 More zucchini recipes
⭐ If you try this vegan stuffed courgette recipe, let us know! 💬 Leave a comment, rate it, and don't forget to tag us @ourplantbasedworld on Instagram. Cheers!
Lebanese Stuffed Zucchini
For the stuffing
- ½ cup rice long-grain
- ½ lb ground beef-less Trader Joe’s, beyond burger, Daiya's or impossible burger
- ⅓ onion large, finely diced, 5.5 oz 1 ¼ cup
- 1 garlic large clove, minced
- 1 large ripe diced tomato
- 2 tablespoons parsley chopped
- 2 teaspoons dill chopped fresh
- ½ teaspoon Lebanese 7 spice
- ¼ teaspoon salt
- pinch black pepper freshly ground
- ¼ cup pine nuts optional
- 1 tablespoon olive oil extra virgin, optional
For the Zucchini
- 4 large-sized zucchinis 2.5-3 lb as green as possible
- 1 can 14.5 oz diced tomato
- 2 cups vegetable broth
- Wash the rice under running water in a colander to get rid of the excess starch.
- In a large bowl, combine the stuffing ingredients rice, beef-less beef, finely diced onion, chopped fresh parsley, dill, diced tomatoes,7-spice mix, minced garlic, salt, and pepper. Mix by hand to combine.
- With a knife, remove the very top of the zucchini, then cut each zucchini in half to make shorter zucchini for stuffing. Now you need to hollow out the zucchini to make room for the stuffing.
- Core. Insert your potato peeler or corer about ¾ of the way into the zucchini, making sure not to poke the bottoms. Twist the corer and pull out the zucchini cores. Do this a few times, and gently scrape the sides of the zucchini until you have hollowed each out. You'll want to leave about ¼ inch rim of zucchini. Poke the zucchini with a fork so they cook evenly.
- Lightly oil the bottom of a large deep cooking pan like this one. Spread the tomato sauce and diced tomato and spread over the bottom of the pan. Sprinkle with a little salt and pepper. You can optionally also add the zucchini flesh or use it for zucchini muffins.
- Now, gently loosely stuff the hollowed zucchini with the stuffing about ¾ of the way (do not over-stuff or crowd the rice stuffing in the zucchini, or it will not cook well).
- Arrange the stuffed zucchini (stuffed side up).
- Now add the tomato sauce and chopped zucchini pulp. Sprinkle lightly with salt and pepper. Top with a plate to prevent the zucchini from flipping.
- Place the pan on the stove and cook on medium-high heat until the liquid starts boiling. Turn the heat down to medium heat, cover, and simmer on medium-low heat for 45 minutes until the zucchini is tender and the rice stuffing is fully cooked. Convection stove at 4.
- Transfer to a serving plate. Top with the sauce from the cooking pan. Enjoy!
🌡️ Food safety
- Cook to a minimum temperature of 165 °F (74 °C)
- Do not use the same utensils on cooked food, that previously touched raw meat
- Wash hands after touching raw meat
- Don't leave food sitting out at room temperature for extended periods
- Never leave cooking food unattended
- Use oils with a high smoking point to avoid harmful compounds
- Always have good ventilation when using a gas stove
The information shown is an estimate provided by an online nutrition calculator. It should not be considered a substitute for a professional nutritionist's advice. See our full Nutritional Disclosure here.
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