I have been anxious to make zucchini boats for awhile.
I’ve refrained because of the size of the zucchinis (I should have known, trying to buy them during the off season). I can’t make zucchini boats when they are the size of baby pickles! Be careful what you wish for. Yesterday my neighbor offered me a few of her garden goodies. I was blown away by how HUGE the zucchinis were! They weighed as much as our small dog. So huge in fact, the neighbor kids named one of them Zeus.
I brought Zeus home, washed him and his smaller cousin who remained nameless, and got started shredding, spiralizing, cutting, and scheming. After I made zucchini bread for the hubby, zucchini pizza crust for me (stay tuned for that), a pile of zoodles for a rainy day, and I STILL had enough for my long-awaited zucchini boats. By boats I mean ships. Titanics….
Another long-awaited ingredient I’ve been meaning to incorporate in to a recipe is tahini. This nutty, smoky-flavored paste is a staple in most hummus recipes, but added to beef with a wide array of spices? Legendary. So what happens when you get legendary tahini ground beef and a titanic-sized zucchini named Zeus? No, not a bad “three zucchinis walked in to a bar” joke – you get Lebanese beef zucchini boats.
This meal was incredibly filling and so far from blah. The beef mixture is FULL of flavor with the help of the tahini paste, lemon juice and spices like cardamon, ginger, nutmeg, and oregano. The addition of a juicy, light zucchini to the bold beef mixture is a wonderful combination. Believe me – Zeus won’t let you down on this one. This protein-packed meal is low-carb, Paleo and Whole30 compliant.
To start, preheat your oven at 400 degrees. I grabbed a vegetable peeler and swiped a few pieces of the zucchini skin off to create some pretty vertical lines. Although it does add a nice visual appeal, I did this to make sure eat bite is soft and I am not chewing on the thick skin of the zucchini once it’s cooked. Slice the zucchinis lengthwise and take a small spoon or ice cream scoop and ‘gut’ out the inside of the zucchinis (RIP Zeus). Place in a glass baking dish and brush the zucchini halves with olive oil. Bake for 20-25 minutes, or until the zucchinis are soft. The cook time may be dependent on the size of your zucchinis.
In the meantime, throw the ground beef and chopped onions in to a medium saucepan on medium-high heat. Cook until beef is browned and then add the lemon juice, spices, tahini and water. Stir until well combined and add more water if the mixture is too thick.
Once the zucchinis are cooked and out of the oven, add the beef mixture to the hollowed insides and place back in the oven for around 5 minutes to heat throughout.
Garnish with your choice of fresh herbs (I chose mint) and sliced almonds or pine nuts for a nice crunch.
Despite the massive size of my zucchinis, I had some of the beef mixture leftover for the next day’s lunch. I simply added the mixture to cauliflower rice, microwaved, and then inhaled it.
Other Uses for Tahini
If you aren’t familiar with tahini and hesitant to buy an entire jar for this recipe, don’t despair! There is so much you can do with tahini, you just need to get a little creative. Here are some suggestions:
- Hummus – just add chickpeas/garbanzo beans, tahini, lemon juice, olive oil, and whatever spices you prefer (cumin, garlic, paprika, etc.), plus a little water to a blender for smooth, delicious hummus.
- Vegetable dip – mix tahini, coconut aminos (or soy sauce), lemon or lime juice, ginger, rice vinegar, and coconut milk for a great vegetables dip or sauce for stir fry.
- Condiment – combine tahini with a dash of pure maple syrup, cinnamon, and a little water (to thin it out) for an unbelievable condiment over sweet potatoes, butternut squash, or roasted parsnips.
- Salad dressing – play up different flavors with tahini. Just add an oil base (coconut oil/olive oil/avocado oil), a vinegar base (balsamic/rice vinegar/apple cider vinegar), and whatever spices your taste buds prefer.
Time Saver Tip
Chop the onion and store in an airtight container to refrigerate before making. Assemble all spices in a small dish and set aside (there are quite a few – this will save a good chunk of time). Cut and hollow insides of zucchini and also store in the refrigerator until ready to bake.
- 2 large or 3 medium-sized zucchinis
- olive oil
- 1lb ground beef
- ½ large onion, diced
- 1 teaspoon garlic powder
- 1 lemon, juiced
- 1 teaspoon salt
- ½ teaspoon cardamon
- 1 teaspoon oregano
- ¼ teaspoon cinnamon
- ½ teaspoon nutmeg
- ⅛ teaspoon cayenne
- ½ teaspoon parsley
- ½ teaspoon ginger
- ¼ teaspoon ground cloves
- ½ cup water
- 3 tablespoons tahini paste
- chopped mint (optional)
- sliced almonds (optional)
- Preheat oven to 400 degrees.
- Slice the zucchinis lengthwise and take a small spoon or ice cream scoop and ‘gut’ out the inside of the zucchinis. Place in a glass baking dish and brush the zucchini halves with olive oil.
- Bake for 20-25 minutes, or until the zucchinis are soft (cook time may be dependent on the size of your zucchinis).
- While zucchinis are in the oven, add the ground beef and chopped onions in to a medium saucepan and cook over medium-high heat until beef is browned and onions are translucent and then add the lemon juice, spices, tahini and water Stir until well combined and add more water if the mixture is too thick.
- Once the zucchinis are cooked, add the beef mixture to the hollowed insides and place back in the oven for around 5 minutes to heat throughout.
- Garnish with mint and sliced almonds.