It’s that time of year. There’s more zucchini than you know what to do with. Neighbors are offering you some, perhaps you’re offering your neighbors some- either way, there’s no shortage of the green veggie (er, um . . . fruit, technically I guess). I never mind. If I don’t have time to make something with it right away, I like to dice it up and freeze it to have fresh zucchini on hand for some fall and winter soups and stews.
This time, though, I wanted to do something different with this plentiful summertime fruit (wait, vegetable? Whatever). I love the traditional Italian inspired stuffed zucchini, but my kids are never so enthused, and since my husband has been dairy free, I knew I needed to steer away from all the cheese. As I’ve mentioned, my kids love anything ranch, so anytime I can use that flavor I like to run with it. And I have to say, these Chicken Bacon Ranch Stuffed Zucchini turned out even better than I imagined. This is very simple and, not to mention, a nice twist on zucchini boats- it’s almost like a BLT stuffed in a zucchini!
Like any zucchini boat, be sure not to hollow it out too much. You want the zucchini to have some integrity to it so it can hold its own, and all that goodness you are about to stuff it with won’t fall out. I like to add some some the zucchini pulp that gets scooped out into my filling, but that’s really up to you.
The meat mixture is pretty easy. I browned some bacon and set that aside to drain on some paper towels and cool. I reserved about 1 tablespoon of the bacon grease that was left in my pan and that is what I used to cook and brown my ground chicken. If you’d rather simplify this even more, you could use prepared bacon bits and just brown the chicken in some olive oil.
Let that cool just a bit, then hit it with a dollop of mayo, the homemade ranch seasoning mix (details here), and toss in the zucchini pulp you scooped out earlier if you plan to use it. Mix in all those lovely crumbled bacon bits, give it a good stir to blend the flavors and it’s good to go. Spoon it into each of the zucchini boats and bake in the oven for about 20 minutes to heat everything through.
Since I didn’t add any cheese or sauce to these, I felt like it needed just a bit more to keep it from being too boring. Some diced tomatoes and that delicious avocado ranch dip (you can find the details for that here) was just what these needed. The tomatoes compliment the ranch so well, and add a nice splash of color, and the avocado ranch dip added the creaminess I was looking for without adding cheese. If you aren’t avoiding diary, some shredded cheddar or colby jack would be great melted on top.
I even surprised myself with these. Let me tell you, these were very, very good. Even my picky kids ate them up (ok, I confess- they didn’t eat the zucchini, but they gobbled up the chicken I stuffed it with. Sssshhhh- I didn’t tell them zucchini was in there too). These are such a fun twist on stuffed zucchini, and they don’t take long at all to whip up.
So next time your neighbor drops off those barrels of the ubiquitous green vegetable (or I mean fruit . . . or maybe we could call it a fruitable?), gladly accept it.
You’ve got something new to try.
- Preheat oven to 375 F
- Halve each zucchini length wise and scoop out center, being careful not to scrape the sides too thin so that each zucchini shell can hold the filling. Reserve zucchini pulp for filling, if desired.
- Brown bacon in a skillet over medium heat until brown and crisp; drain on paper towels and set aside to cool. Crumble or cut bacon into bits.
- Reserve about 1 tablespoon of bacon grease and discard remaining fat.
- Cook ground chicken in the skillet with the bacon grease over medium heat, about 8 minutes.
- Remove from heat and let cool slightly, about 5 minutes, or until chicken is not longer steaming (this is to help keep the meat mixture from getting too wet)
- Stir in reserved zucchini pulp (if desired) mayo, ranch seasoning, and bacon bits.
- Stuff each zucchini half with some of the meat mixture. Bake in the preheated oven for about 20 minutes.
- Remove from oven and top with diced tomatoes and Avocado Ranch Dip.