Risotto Stuffed Zucchini with Bolognese Sauce
When I first started heavy-duty gardening (back in the day), I planted more zucchini than I knew what to do with. My high school friend and neighbor, Claretta, came to my rescue with a superb recipe for stuffed zucchini. Needless to say, since it’s now time for zucchini in our gardens, preparing this wonderful recipe immediately came to mind! You’re going to love this Risotto Stuffed Zucchini with Bolognese Sauce!
I made a few changes to the original recipe by adding my family’s Bolognese sauce to the stuffing instead of simply adding tomato paste. This time to make it more ‘carb’-healthy, I used brown rice instead of white. But alas, I made it more fattening by pouring the entire contents of one regular sized bag of Italian-blend cheese to the mix instead of only sprinkling mozzarella on top.
Give and take, right? I mean, what’s a whole bag of cheese? Just don’t eat as much (if you can stop eating this stuffing, that is)!
Let’s just say, Mr. Meat and Potatoes ate this for days on end and each time always raving about it (I make big batches of anything, even though it’s just the two of us now in our home: just means more left-overs and easy cooking for days)! Like many recipes, Claretta’s stuffed zucchini just gets better and better for a good 4 days . . . kept cool in the frig of course. But the flavors, oh man, they just marry like perfect soul-mate partners do!
Before writing this post, I contacted Claretta to ask her to share a little bit about her love of cooking so that I can give her credit for where the true credit is due. Being as generous and nice as she is, Claretta was happy to oblige! Not surprisingly she honed her cooking skills while growing up; learning how to cook from her parents who were both fantastic cooks. Her husband, Larry, (also a high school friend of mine) and she have always cooked their family meals together with their entire family crowding into the kitchen to cook up their feasts. As an avid cookbook collector, she also collects and tries new recipes.
Claretta says, “I have a huge file of our favorite repeat recipes . . . this zucchini recipe is one of them. It is a wonderful healthy alternative for pizza. I’ve made this recipe for so long that I can’t remember where it came from. For all recipes I tweaked this to make it my own by varying the ingredients. Roz did too and I can’t wait to try her variations, especially her sauce!”
You can either your own favorite meat sauce or If you prefer to prepare this for a vegetarian preference, just add a delicious Marinara sauce instead and eliminate the ground beef in the mix. You’ll love this Risotto Stuffed Zucchini with Bolognese Sauce either way. TRUST ME!
Risotto Stuffed Zucchini with Bolognese Sauce
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- 2 – 3 medium to large zucchini, cut in half lengthwise
- 2 Tbsp. olive oil
- 1 medium onion, chopped
- 1 lb. lean ground beef
- 2 large garlic cloves, minced
- 1 cup cooked rice (either regular rice, Italian Arborio rice, OR orzo pasta)
- 1 package shredded 5-Cheese Italian blend cheese
- 1/2 package of either shredded mozzarella, or Italian-blend shredded cheese
- Bolognese sauce (see recipe on my blog), approximately 10 cups, add to your preference level
- Mrs. Dash seasoning
- Nature’s Seasons seasoning
- Accent seasoning
- Italian blend dried herbs
- Scoop the pulp out of the zucchini halves, discarding any seeds.
- Chop the pulp up
- Chop up one zucchini (minus the seeds), including the green skin for extra color.
- Boil a pot of water and cook the rice, Arborio rice, or Orzo pasta according to package directions.
- Drain and set aside.
- Heat the olive oil on medium heat in a skillet.
- Add the onions and sauté until golden.
- Add the garlic and sauté for about one to two minutes, being careful not to burn the garlic.
- Add the chopped zucchini pulp and sauté for about 5 minutes.
- Set aside off of the stove burner.
- Meanwhile in another skillet, sauté the ground beef with the seasonings until dark brown and cooked completely through.
- Add the Bolognese sauce to the cooked and seasoned ground beef and cook until hot.
- Add the sautéed onions, garlic, and zucchini to the beef and sauce mixture.
- Add the cooked and drained rice/risotto/orzo.
- Add one entire package of Italian blend cheeses.
- Make sure the entire mixture cooks through.
- On the bottom of a large baking dish, layer some of the beef-sauce-rice-cheese mixture.
- Place the zucchini halves on top of this layer.
- Fill each zucchini half with the remaining beef-sauce-rice-cheese mixture.
- Place in a 350 degree oven and cook for 1-½ hour, covered with aluminum foil.
- Sprinkle the last ½ package of cheese on top during the last 15 minutes and bake uncovered until the cheese melts on top, bubbles and is golden brown, keeping an eye on the cheese so that it doesn’t burn.
- For vegetarians, just substitute a delicious Marinara sauce in place of the Bolognese sauce and don’t include the ground beef in the stuffing mixture.
- Adapted from my friend Claretta Gurganus Voelker, 1995, Ames, Iowa.
Grazie’ mille to my dear friend, Claretta, for this outstanding fresh-from-the-garden zucchini recipe!
Enjoy this Risotto Stuffed Zucchini with Bolognese Sauce !
“I planted more zucchini than I knew what to do with.” – two healthy plants will do that around here as we don’t have enough different ways to want it very often. However, this looks delicious and I could see eating it often – bolognese makes everything better
Yes, Larry, the Bolognese made all the difference in this recipe. We only planted ONE zucchini plant this year and it’s been going nuts!
Wowee, does this sound good! Can’t wait to get a zucchini big enough to try it. We have a stuffed zucchini recipe that’s been around since I was a kid that I look forward to every year, as well. And yes, it has cheese on top, too. There’s no such thing as too much cheese at my house!
Oh Mindy, I agree . . . one can never have too much cheese . . . except when it deposits on my rear-end! Such a bummer! LOL!
Oh my. What a great combo of flavors. Your ragù really takes this to a different level. My zucchini should be ready by next week. Can’t wait for meals like this.
Yes, Linda, the ragu is the star in this stuffed zucchini recipe, that’s for sure!
I love the comb of flavours! Your stuffed zucchini looks fantastic, Roz.
Thank you sweet Angie!
Buonissime le zucchine ripiene!!!!! con il riso mi piacciono molto.. e condite con ragù alla bolognese son proprio gustose! baci
Grazie Claudia. You are so ‘gentile’ (kind!). Come stai oggi?
I love everything about this recipe! And we do have a few extra zucchini these days 🙂 Gotta try this one! Thanks
Thanks for your visit Tricia . . . if you need more zucchini, you know where you can find some in my gardens!
Oh, I love the Ames connection with this recipe! Bill would not be thrilled with the zucchini,, but I could definitely eat this day after day. I’m going to have to make your family’s Bolognese sauce…now that’s something the WHOLE family would love!
My Bill doesn’t like the zucchini “boat”, but he eats it chopped up in the ‘stuffing’. Seriously, these 2 guys must be related!
Roz, this looks delicious and I can imagine how good it tastes! I never thought of stuffing zucchini and will have to give it a go. Thanks for the post and recipe!
You’re welcome Pam. This is VERY filling too!
These look fabulous! I love zucchini and the uses you have found for it. Can’t wait for our growing season in the fall.
Christy, I’ve got so many zucchini from just one plant this summer . . . I’m digging up all sorts of zucchini recipes to use this stuff in!
This recipe looks amazing! I am going to have to buy some zucchini so I can try it. And I have no problem with a whole package of cheese!:) It sounds wonderful. Can’t wait to try your bolognese recipe as well. I’m so glad you posted this recipe. When I saw it on Instagram I knew I wanted to make it! Thanks, Roz!
Oh thank you Shari . . . if you make it, let me know what you think. It’s a hefty meal, but that’s the way my husband likes to eat!
This looks absolutely amazing. It sounds like it has a good texture from all the different ingredients. Yum! 🙂
Oh Laura, this recipe is indeed amazing as you said. It is from my high school friend and neighbor who is also a great cook!
I hope you try it, shoot a picture and send it to me!
I’ve never stuffed zucchini before, Roz. The most I’ve done is top the halves with a bra crumb mixture. But everything’s better with sauce and far superior if it;s a Bolognese. I’m sure this dish of yours would be quite a taste treat. I had all kinds of culinary dreams when I planted zucchini for the first time this year. I neglected to mention them to my newest neighbor, a little bunny that has taken a liking to zucchini blossoms. I’ve not had a single blossom, let alone any zucchini. I’m going to try covering everything with netting tomorrow in a last ditch effort to harvest something from that patch of garden space. Fingers crossed …
This recipe from my friend and neighbor is outstanding. Very filling and comforting too. I’m so sorry about the local bunny’s refined taste for your zucchini blossoms! I totally understand and why we finally put chicken coop wire around the base of our garden!
Be well my friend,