Zucchini boats are hollowed out pieces of cooked zucchini that are then filled with a variety of foodstuffs. Many people rely on zucchini boats as a colorful, festive way of presenting food at parties or special meals. As zucchini is both bland in flavor and low in calories, it makes an excellent base for any number of vegetable or meat fillings. Chefs serve zucchini boats as both side dishes as well as main entrées.
Better known as courgette in the United Kingdom and some European countries, the zucchini is a dark green summer squash. Although it is technically a fruit, it is typically served as a vegetable. It tends to grow well in home gardens, but because it can only be stored for a few days while fresh, many people scramble to incorporate zucchini in a variety of dishes during growing season. As such, zucchini is a common ingredient in fresh vegetable dishes and is often incorporated in bread and pies that can be frozen and then eaten at a later date.
To make a zucchini boat, all a cook needs to do is slice a relatively small zucchini along its length and then scoop out its flesh, leaving its curved rind to act as a boat. The cook would then fill the hollowed-out zucchini with a suitable filling and then bake the dish for an appropriate amount of time. The rind is typically thick and tough enough to hold its filling during the baking process. It is quite possible to prepare and fill zucchini boats up to a full day before serving and then cook them right before the meal is served. This sort of advance preparation can be particularly helpful when cooking for a party or other large gathering.
Another advantage to zucchini boats is that they can be filled with all manner of ingredients and can be suitable additions to vegan, vegetarian, and omnivorous diets. Cooks can make one or more different fillings and then simply fill each zucchini rind with foods appropriate to an eater's own dietary preferences. A zucchini boat can also be helpful for individuals who are on low-carbohydrate diets, as the boat can act as a pasta substitute in stuffed pasta recipes. The green zucchini rind can also adds great deal of color to a plate, particularly when white or beige vegetables and starches, such as pureed cauliflower or mashed potatoes, are on the menu.