Recipe Review

I Tried Twice-Baked Zucchini and It’s My New Favorite Summer Appetizer

published Aug 12, 2021
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Credit: Sara Tane

It’s that magical time of year: You know, the time when if you are not eating zucchini at least once a day, you’re doing it so wrong. I am well aware that there are plenty of zucchini-haters out there, but I do not need to be convinced that this magical summer squash can be prepared in an infinite number of delicious, wildly different ways. Shred them into a luscious, jammy butter and toss it with some pasta or shape them into little cheesy tots and air fry them. The possibilities are truly limitless. 

The latest clever zucchini recipe comes from Cucina by Elena by way of Em McDowell’s Instagram stories. In this “twice-baked” preparation, the zucchinis are hollowed out and the innards are cooked before being placed back into the zucchini shells. Finally, it’s rounded out with some breadcrumbs and cheese and baked in the oven. Being the zuke enthusiast that I am, I ran to the store, tossed the girthiest zucchinis I could find in my cart, and got to work. Here’s how twice-baked zucchinis went down.

How to Make Twice-Baked Zucchini

First, you need to trim the zucchinis and cut them into 2-inch, cylindrical pieces. From there, you can use a melon scooper (although I just used a butter knife) to gently hollow out the zucchini pieces, making sure not to pierce through the bottom. Then, cook down the insides of the zucchini in a skillet with some oil and chopped onion until it’s soft and slightly golden-brown. Let the cooked zucchini mixture cool in a bowl.

In the meantime, you can pan-fry the zucchini shells for a few minutes, rotating so that every side is slightly cooked. Arrange them on an oiled baking dish standing upwards like a shot glass. Once the cooked zucchini and onion mixture has cooled, mix in grated Parmesan, breadcrumbs, and an egg. Season to taste with salt and pepper, then pack the mixture into the zucchini shells. Top them all off with more Parm and breadcrumbs as well as a drizzle of oil, then bake in a 350°F oven until they’re golden-brown and jammy, about 40 to 45 minutes.

Credit: Sara Tane

Get the recipe: Twice-Baked Zucchini

My Honest Review

When I was younger, I had a thing for “food boats.” There were few things more exciting to me than when food was served in an edible vessel. Sweet potato boats, spaghetti squash boats, melon boats — you name it. If it was served in a shell of itself, I was all in. I would be lying if I said that these twice-baked zucchinis didn’t bring me back to this oddly satisfying food boat phase of my life.

At first glance, I thought that hollowing out the zucchinis was going to be super time-consuming, but it wasn’t. I don’t have a melon baller, but my handy butter knife did the job just fine. While this recipe is on the lengthier side (it probably took me an hour and 15 minutes total), I felt that it was well worth the extra effort. 

The inside of the zucchini was jammy, savory, cheesy, and melt-in-your-mouth delicious. The zucchini shells cooked down nicely in the oven, but not so much that it turned them too soft or wet. In fact, they held onto a slightly crisp texture, which I thought worked nicely with the super-reduced, jam-like consistency on the inside. These would make for a fun appetizer for your next summer party or a cute dinner side dish. I’m going to go out on a limb here and guess that this could even be a fun way to get your young one to enjoy zucchini. 

Credit: Sara Tane

My #1 Tip for Making Twice-Baked Zucchini

Add garlic! The one flavor I was missing with these boats was some garlic. I mean, if you’re going to make something with onions, Parm, and breadcrumbs, you might as well throw some garlic in there too, right? Sauté it with the zucchini insides and the onion.