If you’re wondering what to do with all of your summer zucchini, this recipe makes an easy and delicious vegan dinner. You can whip it up in just about 30 minutes for a quick weeknight meal!
I love using zucchini as a healthy alternative to taco shells and tortillas, as they are mild in both taste and texture, and take very little effort to prepare. In this recipe, zucchini squash are sliced lengthwise with their seeds scooped out, baked until fork tender, and then stuffed with a Mexican-style black bean mixture. Topped with a drizzle of vegan cheese sauce, they become total vegan comfort food and make a perfectly light summer meal.
Here are some health benefits of stuffed zucchini:
- Zucchini squash are low in carbohydrates and calories, and are brimming with fiber and vitamin C, which helps promote a healthy immune system. They also contain potassium and magnesium, which may help to keep your heart rate and blood pressure at healthy levels.
- Black beans are thought to help build healthy bones, as they contain essential minerals like calcium, magnesium, phosphorus, and zinc. Here’s how to cook black beans from scratch.
- The fiber in black beans may help to lower total cholesterol and decrease the risk of heart disease.
- Cumin is thought to boost digestion and relieve gas issues, which makes it perfect for pairing with beans! This spice is also rich in iron and vitamin C, to help boost immunity and promote healthy circulation.
- Onions are loaded with antioxidants, which may help protect the body from free radical damage, and amino acids, which are the building blocks of protein. When you eat a variety of plant foods, the body combines these amino acids to get the “complete protein” it needs.
- Tahini is high in vitamin E and also contains calcium, making it a great alternative to dairy in this vegan “cheese” topping. I love that it keeps this recipe nut-free, too.
Since this is a quick skillet meal, you can use any other veggies you might have on hand and simply adjust the seasoning to your taste. Keep in mind that you’ll be stuffing this filling into unseasoned zucchini shells, so I tend to go a little heavier with the salt and seasonings to compensate for that, but it’s always a safe bet to start with less and add more as you go. Feel free to customize as you see fit!
Vegan Stuffed Zucchini Recipe
- 4 medium zucchini
- 1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
- 1 red onion , diced
- 1 red bell pepper , diced
- 1 clove garlic , minced
- 1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
- 1/2 teaspoon fine sea salt
- 1/4 teaspoon chili powder
- 1.5 cups black beans , cooked (or a 15 oz. can, drained)
- fresh cilantro (for garnish)
Tahini "Cheese" Sauce
- 1/4 cup raw tahini
- 1/4 cup water
- 4 teaspoons lemon juice
- 1/2 teaspoon apple cider vinegar
- 1 tablespoon nutritional yeast
- 1/4 teaspoon fine sea salt
- 1/4 teaspoon turmeric (mostly for color)
- 1/4 teaspoon chili powder
- Preheat the oven to 350ºF. Slice the top and bottom knobs off of each zucchini squash, then slice them in half lengthwise. Use a spoon to scoop out the center seeds of each squash, creating a crevice that will hold the black bean filling. Arrange the squash halves, cut-side-up, on a large baking sheet and bake them at 350ºF until very tender, about 20 minutes.
- While the squash is baking, heat the olive oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat and saute the onion and pepper until they start to soften, about 5 minutes. Add in the garlic and saute another minute.
- Add in the black beans, cumin, salt, and chili powder, and stir until everything is heated through. Turn off the heat and let the vegetables sit in the warm pan until the zucchini is done cooking.
- To prepare the "cheese" sauce, stir together all of the ingredients in a bowl until smooth and creamy. Adjust any seasoning to taste. (Keep in mind that it will be slightly salty and tangy, but will be diluted in flavor when drizzled over all those vegetables.)
- To assemble, remove the zucchini from the oven and fill each half with plenty of the hot black bean mixture. Top with a generous drizzle of tahini sauce and garnish with fresh cilantro. Serve warm.
- Note: If you'd prefer to top with real cheese, I'd return the stuffed zucchini to the oven and broil them until the cheese is bubbly, about 1-2 more minutes, before serving.
Frequently Asked Questions:
- What should you do with your scooped-out zucchini seeds?
You can toss the scooped-out zucchini seeds into the skillet with the beans and veggies for an extra nutritional boost, if you like, but I actually prefer to save them in an airtight container in the fridge and add them to my smoothie the next morning. They add an extra nutritional boost to any sauce or smoothie, without adding any extra flavor.
- Can I use another cheese topping?
If you’re not dairy-free, feel free to use real cheese as a topping if you prefer. Just sprinkle cheese over the stuffed zucchini and place it under your oven’s broiler for 1-2 minutes, until bubbly. You could also use my cashew queso recipe or sweet potato queso recipe if you prefer.
- Can I make another substitution?
Because this is a skillet-meal, it’s pretty easy to make any substitution you like and just taste the filling as you go. Just trust your taste buds and experiment however you like! I think you could probably use another type of bean, add meat if you’re not vegetarian, or even use a pseudo-grain like quinoa for another plant-based protein in the filling. If it’s not zucchini season for you, you might try stuffing this mixture into eggplant, spaghetti squash, or bell peppers as an alternative.
As always, if you make a modification to this recipe, please leave a comment below letting us know how it worked for you, so we can all benefit from your experience.
Reader Feedback: What’s your favorite way to use up summer zucchini? My Coconut Flour Zucchini Bread is next on my list!
Questions and Reviews
It’s okay to combine beans and tahini? I thought that was improper food combining.
No, technically beans and tahini are miscombined, but since you’re adding water to the tahini and it’s drizzled in small amounts, it really shouldn’t slow down the digestive process much. (In general, the more hydrated a food, the easier it digests.)
I made this tonight and both my husband and I loved it!!!!! It was super fast and easy to make.
I made this tonight, and when I put it on the table, my 10- and 6-year olds immediately told me how they “do not like zucchini”. I asked them to give it a try, and they ended up enjoying it (although they did tell me how they liked the filling more than the zucchini 😊). This was a very tasty and quick meal that we will be making again. Great way to use some of those zucchini from our garden. Thanks once again, Megan!
I made this tonight and it was delicious! I added diced carrots and celery to the filling and sprinkled finely grated cheese on top. Thank you for the great recipe!
I’ve made this twice so far and love it. I used hard sheep cheese for topping though. I also put more chilli powder in. Great recipe which will become a regular in my diet.
Great recipe. You have to try the version that uses the zucchini guts in the filling.
Yes! I added the seeded portion back to it before I added the garlic and it was amazing!
OMG!!!! THIS IS AMAZING!!! The tahini sauce tastes like CHEESE!!! I have been vegan for a week now and this recipe will definitely be apart of my meal plan as often as possible!!! LOVE LOVE LOVE IT!!!
Very good! Thanks so much for sharing this awesome recipe.
This is absolutely delicious (with either zucchini or yellow squash). I was recently diagnosed with breast cancer, and have radically (and I do mean RADICALLY) changed my diet and lifestyle in order to literally save my life. This recipe is chock-full of all the healthy things that I now eat, and it tastes divine. Thank you for posting it.
I’m a potbelly guy determined to eradicate it from me, I’m not a vegan but I substitute the fasting period in my diet to a full vegan diet. I find it a lot of fun and follow your recipes to the dot. Thanks guys.
I have tahini sauce at home instead of raw tahini. Has anyone made the tahini cheese sauce with tahini sauce?
How long will this last in the fridge?
I think they’d last up to 5 days.
That cheese sauce is sensational. It almost reminds me of gruyere or a Quattro formaggi!
Fabulous recipe! I added (extra firm) tofu scramble and pico de gallo to the veggies… luckily, I had doubled the recipe!
I tried this today and it was lovely! I’ve been vegan for a year and a half now and I still really struggle trying to find things I like so I’ve definitely bookmarked this recipe.
I find I never luke tahini based sauces so I left that out and I actually saved the stuff I’d scraped out of the zucchinis and put it in with the rest of the stuff in the frying pan, about 2 mins before I turned the heat off. I think doing that really helped because it seemed to absorb all the flavours really well.
Thanks very much, I’ll be having this again 🙂
Thank you for having such amazing and easy recipes to make! This zucchini was delicious and filling!
Yum! I made these without the yeast because I didn’t have any on hand, but added a little cayenne instead. The sauce was delicious anyway and the whole thing cane together really well. Easy, fast, affordable, tasty.
Tasty, colorful and fun to make. Added mushrooms, carrots and sliced black olives to the filling.
Love the vegan cheese sauce! Wonderful coloring and tangy flavor.
Delicious! We used our summer zucchini! The tahini cheese sauce was da best! Highly recommend making a double batch.
I’ve made this twice for family parties and it’s been a hit for vegetarians and non-vegetarians. It’s easy to make the filling and zucchini boats in advance, then heat in the oven when ready. I have not made the sauce but instead topped with a homemade cashew sour cream.
I LOVED this! I’ve tried so many vegan recipes that disappointed me, and this was definitely not one of them. I made a half-batch and followed the recipe except for the tumeric, because I didn’t have any, and I also added back in the scooped-out left-over zucchini.
Very tasty and filling. The tahini sauce didn’t taste like cheese to me, but I don’t care, the flavor was delicious. I don’t really see the point of comparing faux versions of foods to their “real” counterpart, but to each their own I guess.
Just made this and it t is so good. Thank you for the recipe.
If I do not have “raw” tahini do I need to make adjustments using regular tahini?
I would just taste it as you go and adjust the seasoning as you like. Roasted tahini has a stronger flavor, so it won’t be as “neutral” as the raw version.
Delicious! I made the boats in the toaster oven to avoid turning on the oven and it worked great. I also added brown rice to the mixture because I had it on hand. Light yet comforting meal!
I made this for my husband as he is vegetarian, I had my kids try the filling and they loved it. I will definitely make this again.
This was so delicious!!!! The vegan cheese sauce was 🔥 fire! I didn’t have tahini. So I used some hummus from the fridge. This will not last long in my fridge. I ate half of it already.
I loved this recipe and so did my husband. I used Garbanzo beans instead of black beans. It was great.
I honestly wasn’t sure if I would like this but it actually is the most delicious meal I’ve made in months. I wanted to eat all of it rather than save some for leftovers. I omitted the chili powder but kept everything else as is. I will definitely be sharing this recipe.
What a tasty dish! Quick to prepare and absolutely delicious!!
Made this tonight! Just subbed the red bell for some matchstick carrots that I had on hand, topped with a little avocado and the tahini sauce surprisingly satisfied my cheese craving. My husband devoured his too. Will be making again!
delicious!! i used summer squash and zucchini, both were great.
I made these but exchanged black beans for garbanzos. It turned out delicious .. i did a mix of the sauce and mozzarella cheese for the hubs!