This easy low carb Middle Eastern stuffed zucchini is a family recipe that I just love. For a low carb dinner eat it as is or serve with rice. It’s an easy dish that uses all of the garden zucchini in the summer and it’s stuffed with ground beef. Each stuffed zucchini boat has only 4.5g net carbs and 186 calories.
You might also like this low carb Johnny Marzetti zucchini casserole!
Growing up my grandmother (and mother) would often make stuffed kusa (zucchini). There were two ways that they made it. One way was with a stuffing of meat, onions and pine nuts. The other way was with meat and rice, sort of like a stuffed cabbage. And both were cooked in tomato sauce.
Both were excellent but my favorite was always this version of Middle Eastern Stuffed Zucchini. I love the meat and pine nuts together because who doesn’t love pine nuts!
So today I made this dish because a) it reminds me of my mother and grandmother b) because it’s low carb and c) because we have a lot of zucchini from the garden.
Using small zucchini vs very large zucchini
I’m updating this post because it’s very old and usually I make this with medium to small sized zucchinis. Today I made it with a huge one from our garden. And while it’s a good way to use a big club of zucchini, I think there is more flavor in the smaller size.
So while my new pictures (right) show the large zucchini I suggest you use medium to smaller sized ones (left).
Shortcut for Cleaning out the zucchini
It’s fairly simple to make and oh so tasty! To clean out the zucchinis, my family used to use a special skewer and it was hard not to make holes in the walls of the zucchini. Over the years, I found that if I just cut them in half length-wise and scoop out the middle with a melon baller (see photo below) it is much easier.
This is what they look like once you’ve cleaned them. Note that you really are supposed to use a tool like this, and keep the zucchini whole. This just seems easier to me.
Let’s make some Middle Eastern Stuffed Zucchini
This is not a hard recipe to make but I’ll give it to you in steps.
- First clean out the zucchini by slicing in half lengthwise and use a melon baller to clean out the inside.
- Use olive oil or cooking spray to oil both sides of the zucchini and broil 5-7 minutes on both sides. If you are using the big club like zucchini you might want to bake them instead of broil for about 20 minutes or until they are nice and cooked through. The larger ones take longer to make.
- Meanwhile in a large skillet brown the ground beef, onions and pine nuts. Add the seasoning as the meat is browning.
- When the zucchini is done, fill them up with the meat mixture.
- Take the tomato paste and add some water to make it thinner and spoon over the zucchini. Then sprinkle some parmesan cheese if you want but that is purely for looks not taste.
- Place in a baking dish and bake for 20-30 minutes.
I sent a picture of the finished dish to my sister. She said if our grandmother was still alive she would go to her house every Wednesday for dinner. I forgot that we used to do that. Every Wednesday we would go to her house and she would cook the most delicious meals. Never a bad one. Ever. Funny how you never forget those thing…gosh that was nice. <sigh>
You can serve this with rice or just eat it as is. There is nothing like foods from your childhood to bring you comfort and joy and today it did just that. Even reminiscing with my sister today put a smile on my face. 🙂 Enjoy!!
The nutritional information for 1 serving (based on 8 medium sized zucchini halves making 8 servings) is:
186 cals / 10.5g fat / 6.6g carbs / 2.1g fiber / 16.7g protein = 4.5g net carbs
Low Carb Middle Eastern Stuffed Zucchini
This easy low carb Middle Eastern stuffed zucchini is a family recipe that I just love. For a low carb dinner eat it as is or serve with rice. It's an easy dish that uses all of the garden zucchini in the summer and it's stuffed with ground beef. Each stuffed zucchini boat has only 4.5g net carbs and 186 calories.
- 1 lb ground beef
- 1/2 cup onion, minced
- 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 1/2 teaspoon pepper
- 2 Tablespoons pine nuts
- 4 medium zucchinis ***
- 6 tablespoons tomato paste or tomato sauce
- grated cheese to sprinkle on top (optional)
Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
First clean you zucchinis by cutting in two length-wise. Using a melon baller or a spoon, clean out the zucchini so that there is about a 1/8 inch thickness to the skin left.
Spray both sides of zucchinis with cooking spray or use olive oil and place in a baking dish.
Broil for about 5-7 minutes on both sides. Watch so they don't burn!
In the meantime, add ground beef, onion and spices to a sauté pan.
When mixture is almost brown, add pine nuts.
Saute for 3 more minutes then turn off and let cool a bit.
Add meat mixture to stuff the zucchinis.
Top with tomato sauce. I use a can of tomato paste mixed with a can of water because that is what my grandmother used to do. It has a sweeter taste and I like that but you can just use a can of tomato sauce if you prefer.
Sprinkle with cheese and cook for 25-30 minutes in a 350 degree oven. Check that you can put a fork through the zucchini.
Eat as is or serve with rice.
**Note: This recipe is for 4 medium sized zucchini. I have recently used 1 huge zucchini and stuffed both halves which is shown in many of the new pictures as I'm updating this post. Please note that I think it tastes better with the 4 medium zucchinis but if you only have a huge one, that will work too. In that case you will want to bake the cleaned out zucchini instead of broiling and this might take up to 20 minutes. Then stuff it and follow the rest of the directions.
More Middle Eastern Dishes to try!