Grilled Vegetarian Stuffed Zucchini

This delicious grilled vegetarian stuffed zucchini features an Italian-style filling of lemon basil quinoa with red pepper and mozzarella cheese.

Grilled vegetarian stuffed zucchini

I left the farmer’s market with a boat-load of zucchini this weekend. Unfortunately we didn’t grow any in our garden this year, so we had to pretend we had the late summer “drowning in zucchini” problem. We tried a few things that didn’t work out, even zucchini noodles with a spiralizer. But luckily one recipe did turn out: this grilled vegetarian stuffed zucchini. And it’s so darn good. Keep reading for the recipe!

Related: 10 Easy Quinoa Recipes

Grilled vegetarian stuffed zucchini

Making this vegetarian stuffed zucchini

This vegetarian stuffed zucchini was one of those ideas that Alex dreams up that I’m a little skeptical about until he convinces me otherwise. And looking back, I’m not so sure why I was so skeptical. Vegetarian stuffed zucchini is a genius way to make a filling vegetarian main dish out of zucchini. And adding the grill to that? It makes the zucchini boats charred and smoky, which adds an irresistible element.

For the vegetarian stuffed zucchini filling, we’ve been enjoying the lemon and basil flavor combination lately. Alex devised an Italian-style filling of lemon basil quinoa with red pepper and mozzarella cheese. It makes for an extraordinarily tasty grilled zucchini boats. They’re a fabulous vegetarian dinner idea for grilling season; a fitting late summer dinner on the patio! We’d serve this vegetarian stuffed zucchini with Strawberry Summer Salad and a glass of frose.

Grilled vegetarian stuffed zucchini

How to make quinoa

Outside of grilling the zucchini, the only special skill required for this vegetarian stuffed zucchini is cooking the quinoa! Cooking quinoa is a simple process, but it can be easy to mess up! Cook it too fast and it’s hard and crunchy, or overcook it and it’s mushy. Here are our two best methods for how to cook quinoa for this vegetarian stuffed zucchini:

  1. Perfect Quinoa on the Stovetop This is our master recipe for cooking quinoa on the stovetop. It takes about 25 minutes, and it requires a little baby sitting to make sure the liquid is cooking out evenly, but it’s mostly hands off.
  2. Instant Pot Quinoa (Pressure Cooker) If you have a pressure cooker, you can use it to make quinoa! It takes about 16 minutes and is almost totally hands off! This is the method we’ve started to use more often, since we have an Instant Pot. (Here’s the Instant Pot we use)

Video: How to make quinoa

And, to show you how to do it: here’s a video of us making quinoa in our kitchen!

Other ways to use zucchini

We’re all about creativity when it comes to using up zucchini. Zucchini bread and muffins are delicious and all, but we like thinking outside the box: like zucchini ribbon salad or chocolate cake! Here are some of our favorite ways to use up zucchini, outside of this zucchini ribbon salad:

Looking for more grilling ideas?

Outside of this grilled vegetarian stuffed zucchini, here are a few more recipes for your summer grilling game:

This vegetarian stuffed zucchini recipe is…

Vegetarian and gluten-free.

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Vegetarian Stuffed Zucchini

1 Star2 Stars3 Stars4 Stars5 Stars (9 votes, average: 4.22 out of 5)

  • Author: a Couple Cooks
  • Prep Time: 10 minutes
  • Cook Time: 35 minutes
  • Total Time: 45 minutes
  • Yield: 4 to 6 servings 1x


This delicious grilled vegetarian stuffed zucchini features an Italian-style filling of lemon basil quinoa with red pepper and mozzarella cheese.


  • 1 cup quinoa (uncooked)
  • 1 red pepper
  • 1 shallot
  • 1/4 cup basil leaves, loosely packed
  • 2/3 cup shredded Mozzarella cheese
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt, divided
  • 1 lemon
  • 4 medium zucchini
  • Olive oil
  • 1/3 cup grated Parmesan cheese


  1. Preheat a grill to medium high. (Alternatively, you can bake at 425°F covered with foil for 15 minutes, then uncovered for 5 minutes.)
  2. Cook the quinoa (or use our Instant Pot quinoa method): Place 1 cup quinoa in a saucepan with 2 cups water. Bring to a boil, then reduce the heat to very low. Cover the pot, and simmer where the water is just bubbling for about 15 to 20 minutes, until the water has been completely absorbed. (Check by pulling back the quinoa with a fork to see if water remains.) Turn off the heat and let sit covered to steam for about 5 minutes.
  3. Finely dice 1 red pepper, mince 1 shallot, and chop ¼ cup basil leaves.
  4. When the quinoa is done, mix the vegetables above with the quinoa, ⅔ cups mozzarella, ½ teaspoon kosher salt, and the zest of 1 lemon.
  5. Cut off the ends of 4 zucchini, then cut them in half lengthwise. Using a spoon, remove the fleshy centers. Brush the zucchini lightly with olive oil and grill cut-side down for 3-5 minutes.
  6. Remove the zucchini from the grill and and sprinkle with kosher salt. Spoon in the quinoa stuffing, then top with grated Parmesan cheese (or Mozzarella cheese). Grill indirectly on a medium high grill for 8-10 minutes until tender.
  • Category: Main Dish
  • Method: Grilled
  • Cuisine: Italian Inspired

Keywords: Vegetarian stuffed zucchini, Grilled zucchini, Zucchini Recipes, Vegetarian Grill Recipes, Grilling Ideas

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About the Authors

Sonja Overhiser

Cookbook Author and writer

Sonja Overhiser is author of Pretty Simple Cooking, named one of the best healthy cookbooks of 2018. She’s host of the food podcast Small Bites and founder of the food blog A Couple Cooks. Featured from the TODAY Show to Bon Appetit, Sonja seeks to inspire adventurous eating to make the world a better place one bite at a time.

Alex Overhiser

Cookbook Author and photographer

Alex Overhiser is an acclaimed food photographer and author based in Indianapolis. He’s host of the food podcast Small Bites and founder of the recipe website A Couple Cooks. Featured from the TODAY Show to Bon Appetit, Alex is author of Pretty Simple Cooking, named one of the best vegetarian cookbooks by Epicurious.


  • Reply
    Katrina @ Warm Vanilla Sugar
    September 8, 2014 at 9:39 am

    Stuffed zucchini is the best! Love this quinoa version!

  • Reply
    Katie @ Whole Nourishment
    September 8, 2014 at 10:26 am

    Mmm, the lemon-basil flavor combo sounds delicious with quinoa. I never tire from cooking with quinoa and probably have it once a week, so this stuffed zucchini is going in my file.

  • Reply
    Sharlynn Ng
    September 8, 2014 at 10:35 am

    Oh wow, these look so wholesome and yummy! I would totally add some meat into the stuffing as well for a protein kick! Great recipe!

  • Reply
    September 8, 2014 at 10:53 am

    I make zucchini noodles fairly frequently – there are two dishes I make fairly regularly, one raw, one cooked. They have turned out well for me every time. This recipe sounds like a wonderful way to use zucchini. I would need to do something to add more protein, but I would love to try it.

  • Reply
    Millie | Add A Little
    September 8, 2014 at 10:56 am

    I love stuffed zucchini and quinoa sounds super tasty!

  • Reply
    Amy @ Parsley In My Teeth
    September 8, 2014 at 11:13 am

    This is such a great time of year to get boat loads of zucchini at the best price. We make zucchini spaghetti a lot, and these stuffed zucchinis are right up our alley! Delicious!

  • Reply
    Tina Muir
    September 8, 2014 at 3:34 pm

    Yummy! What a great idea! Love that these would be so hearty, especially for vegetarian meals! These will go a long way in convincing people to eat meatless, so please linkup to my page for meatless monday. Meatfree can be hearty, and definitely way more healthy! Thanks for the recipe :)

  • Reply
    Rivki Locker
    September 8, 2014 at 8:16 pm

    This looks delightful. I am really in the ‘drowning in zucchini’ conundrum, but not because I grow it – my CSA has been sending lots, plus I can never resist it at the farmers market. Then I get home and realize I bought way too much. This looks just lovely. I made a similar recipe last week with bell peppers; we were drowning in those last week. Thanks for sharing.

  • Reply
    September 9, 2014 at 9:46 am

    These look amazing! I’m so glad I found your blog :)

  • Reply
    September 9, 2014 at 12:00 pm

    What a great idea! I do this every kind of squash imaginable — acorn, butternut, winter, even patty pan, but never thought of zucchini. Add a few pieces of chorizo to top and I can pass this off as pizza to my preschooler, which somehow just makes it more fun.

  • Reply
    September 10, 2014 at 12:53 pm

    Yum! Such a great weeknight meal. Easy and delicious. Will definitely be giving it a try. :)

  • Reply
    Joan Cook
    September 12, 2014 at 2:13 pm

    This is awesome! I am eating really clean lately and this is one of those yummy things that would be really good for my diet.
    I have pinned it for later use.

  • Reply
    [email protected]
    September 13, 2014 at 1:05 pm

    i have never tried eating this way but it does looks darn tasty!!

  • Reply
    Phoebe Lapine @ Feed Me Phoebe
    September 14, 2014 at 10:46 pm

    What a fun way to eat zucchini! And looks filling but healthy :)

  • Reply
    Andie Markijohn
    November 15, 2014 at 2:19 pm

    I wish the nutrition content was included!

  • Reply
    January 11, 2015 at 4:25 pm

    I just finished making this. It’s in the oven. Not sure why, but despite following recipe directions, I ended up with around 3 times the amount of filling needed to stuff 4 zucchinis! Unfortunately, I don’t have any extra zucchinis to stuff. Am I the only one with so much filling??

  • Reply
    August 7, 2016 at 4:10 pm

    Loved this idea!! I didn’t have any fresh basil, but I added some dried basil and mint, pine nuts, and crumbled feta cheese (didn’t have mozzarella or good Parmesan on hand). It was super yummy. We had it as a side dish for chicken.

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