This zucchini boat is festive for a holiday meal, and it can serve as a meal in and of itself if you wish. However for a holiday meal you can easily serve the zucchini boat with sides such as stuffing, candied yams, or your favorite vegetable side.
I first made this holiday zucchini boat for Canadian Thanksgiving, which happens in October. I wanted to use some really old frozen cranberries I found in the freezer, and had a zucchini from the farm down the street. This is what came of it! I know the ingredients list is long, but it’s not quite as bad as it looks (and it is, after all, a holiday dish). I will add some directions below the recipe for simplifying this recipe so it’s better for a weekday meal.
We have made this zucchini dish a few times now, testing it for this post. I plan on repeating it for Christmas too. I love the zucchini boat with cranberry sauce on the side, and my husband enjoys gravy on top. Either way works, and I have provided suitable recipes for either option (links in the ingredients list).
The crunchy topping can be adjusted or omitted depending on your preference. We used a simple crushed corn flake with a bit of the mashed potato flavoring, however you can make the meal fancier by adding some vegan parmesan into the mix too.
Added bonus? All your fiber and half your protein and iron daily requirements are all covered by one serving of this zucchini boat.
Holiday Zucchini Boat with Potatoes and Cranberry
- 1 zucchini Medium-ish. Please see notes!
- 3-4 lb potatoes Boiled. About 1.5kg
Potato flavoring - see notes
- 1.5 cups corn flakes Crushed. See notes
- 2 Tbsp potato flavoring (above) Substitute oat milk or aquafaba
- Salt and pepper or red pepper flakes Optional. To taste
- Cook wild rice, lentils, and chickpeas (or use canned/packaged if desired). These can be made anytime in advance and refrigerated.
- Boil the potatoes while you prepare the zucchini.
- Cut the zucchini in half, lengthwise (see photo). Scoop out the seeds to form a hollow center, and compost these seed-filled pieces.
- Scoop out some additional flesh so there is a lager hollow center for the filling (see photo). Reserve the seedless zucchini pieces and add them to a large bowl.
Make the filling
- Add 1/2 cup of cooked chickpeas, and all of the lentils and rice to the large bowl.
- Add the remaining chickpeas (1/2 cup) to food processor or blender, along with the garlic, all dry spices. Blend until lumpy or smooth. If you have any trouble blending, add a bit of the aquafaba from the can or cooking water to the food processor.
- Fold together this blend with the rice and lentil blend in the large bowl.
- Add this filling into the hollow center of your zucchini boats.
Make the mashed potatoes
- When the potatoes are tender, drain and set aside.
- Add all ingredients from the potato flavoring section (oat milk, nutritional yeast, minced garlic and salt) to a bowl and whisk until smooth. Alternatively you can blend these ingredients in a blender.
- Rice or mash the potatoes, adding about 1/2 cup of the "potato flavoring" (previous step) to this and fold until combined.
- Add these mashed potatoes on top of the rice filling on your zucchini boat.
Make and apply the crunchy topping
- Crush the cornflakes in a bowl.
- Add some of the blended potato flavoring and optional seasonings (pepper, salt) into the corn flake mixture and stir to combine.
- Add these crunchy bits on top of the mashed potatoes.
Bake it and serve
- Place the two boats on a baking sheet. Cover with parchment paper or tin foil to protect the crunchy topping.
- Bake at 375F for about 30 minutes until zucchini is fork tender. Remove the parchment paper and continue cooking about another 10 minutes until crunchy topping is golden brown.
- Cut each boat in half, and serve with cranberry sauce or gravy.
Substitutions and other changes
See the section below on how to simplify this dish for a weekday night instead of a holiday. Here are some alternate substitutions.
- SOS-free: The salt in this recipe is optional. Otherwise this recipe does not have any oil or added sugars.
- Gluten free: This recipe is already gluten free, but you will need to ensure you find gluten free corn flakes if you add the crunchy topping.
- Nut free: Substitute or omit the walnuts. Nutmeg is a seed, but you may need to check if you have any related seed allergies. Check any processed ingredients you may use, such as the plant-based milk or cereal for the topping.
- Zucchini: The zucchini can be substituted with any other summer or winter squash. You may need to cook some squash a bit longer. Check the squash for tenderness and adjust accordingly.
- Potatoes: You can try this recipe with sweet potato or yam mash on top, instead of potatoes. Either would go well with the filling and cranberry sauce. You may want to adjust the flavorings however, based on taste or favorite recipes. You could mash them with a bit of maple syrup and oat milk if you prefer a sweeter variation, for example.
- Making it ahead: Make the filling and potatoes in advance, refrigerate, and assemble the day of your meal. Check that the filling is warm enough before serving. You might need to cook it a little bit longer. Another option is to warm the filling and/or potatoes a little bit in the microwave first, and then assemble and bake the zucchini boat.
Find a few more suggestions within the recipe itself.
Zucchini boat dressings
Simplifying the holiday zucchini boat for a weekday night (workday zucchini boat?)
This is more of a holiday or weekend dish by design. I like this kind of meal for Christmas and Thanksgiving. But what about using it for a weekday meal? Here are some simplifications you can make so it’s a much quicker meal to make on a regular weekday.
- Replace the lentils with more canned chickpeas, and mash about 3/4 of them. This saves you from cooking lentils in advance.
- Replace either the walnuts or the raisins with more walnuts or raisins.
- Simplify the spices. Replace nutmeg, rosemary and/or oregano with additional garlic, onion powder, sage and/or thyme.
- Skip the potato flavorings. You can mash the potatoes plain, or just add a bit of plant-based milk and garlic powder.
- Serve it “nude”. You don’t need to serve this with gravy or cranberry sauce – it can stand on its own without garnish.
Making it ahead? See the directions in the “Substitutions and other changes” section above.
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