Round zucchini is a fun heirloom squash variation that’s perfect for stuffing, baking and enjoying as a healthy side dish come the late summer season.
This recipe calls for simple yet flavorful ingredients such as shallots, garlic, quinoa and fresh herbs to make an easy vegetarian filling that perfectly complements the fresh seasonal round zucchini squash.
Every year as we head into the late summer season, my local market has the most adorable display of locally grown zucchini squash.
And I’m not talking about just the generic “normal” looking zucchini we’re all used to but an array of different shapes, sizes and even colors.
I make it my mission to buy them all even though if we’re being honest, they all taste the same.
I guess just because it’s a fun change of pace.
That said, my favorite of the whole bunch are these adorable round zucchini.
Their cute little appearance wins me over every time.
Most of the time, I do nothing differently with them than I would regular zucchini but their shape does make them absolutely perfect for stuffing and that’s exactly what I’m sharing today with this easy stuffed round zucchini recipe.
WHAT ARE ROUND ZUCCHINI?
Round zucchini are simply just a variety of the zucchini squash.
It’s an heirloom varietal that grows more in bush form than a long trailing vine.
The zucchini mature in about 45 days and result in a 3-4″ maximum (some are smaller) round shape.
Their flesh is a pale yellow color just like regular oblong shaped zucchini and they taste identical as well.
WHAT ARE ROUND ZUCCHINI CALLED?
There are a multitude of round zucchini varieties.
Outside of simply just calling them what they are: round zucchini, sometimes they’re referred to by the actual variety name.
Some common names associated with round zucchini are the ball series: eight ball (pictured here in this recipe), cue ball (green with white speckles) and one ball zucchini (yellow in color) as well as Lucky 8 (green with light green vertical lines), Piccolo (these look like a tiny watermelon!) and Ronde de Nice (a gray/green speckled zucchini).
Any of these varieties can be referred to as just “round zucchini”.
Despite their varied appearance of colors and markings, all these round zucchini taste the same across the board.
WHAT TO MAKE WITH ROUND ZUCCHINI
Because of their shape, this variety of zucchini is even better stuffing than regular zucchini.
And we all know how popular a stuffed zucchini recipe can be!
Their compact size makes each zucchini perfect for serving up individually as both a vegetable and grain side dish.
It’s an all in one approach that’s both delicious and nutritious!
That said, just because it’s round doesn’t mean the vegetable can’t be used like any other zucchini.
HOW TO MAKE THIS STUFFED ROUND ZUCCHINI RECIPE
Start by preheating the oven to 350°F.
Slice the tops off the zucchini and hollow out the center.
I like to use a grapefruit spoon to do this as the serrated edges make it perfect for this use. It’s also my secret for seeding squash when I want to make roasted squash seeds in the fall.
Reserve the inside flesh of the zucchini, we’ll be using it in the filling.
Place the zucchini along with the tops in a baking dish. Drizzle with a bit of olive oil and season with salt and pepper. Bake the zucchini at 350°F for about 15-18 minutes. They should be just about fork tender when done but still have some bite to them.
Meanwhile, get the quinoa cooking by bringing the vegetable broth to a boil. Add the quinoa, reduce the heat to low, cover and simmer until the broth is fully absorbed. Fluff the quinoa with a fork and transfer it to a bowl.
While the quinoa cooks, place some olive oil in a skillet over medium heat and sauté the shallots and garlic until slightly softened and fragrant.
Add the reserved zucchini flesh and cook for another 7-8 minutes until the moisture evaporates (remember zucchini gives off a lot of water so we want to cook that out so the filling isn’t too soggy).
Add the parsley to the pan and season with salt and pepper to taste.
Transfer the mixture to the bowl with the quinoa and stir to combine.
When the zucchini are finished baking, remove from the oven and spoon the filling mixture inside each round zucchini.
Top each with its respective cap and serve warm.
TIPS & SUBSTITUTIONS
- Choose round zucchini that are no more than 3-4″ in diameter. Any larger and the flesh tends to be filled with seeds and dried out.
- Use any gluten-free grain to replace the quinoa if desired. I actually used a brown rice, quinoa and buckwheat blend in these stuffed zucchini. Any grain will work: white rice, brown rice, wild rice, millet, etc. If you’re ok with gluten, feel free to also use barley, farro or wheat berries.
- Fresh herbs make all the difference! Don’t skimp on the fresh herbs. The recipe calls for a full 1/4 cup of minced fresh herbs but you can definitely increase that amount if you like. The more herbs the merrier! It becomes a bit like tabbouleh if you do so. In fact, this millet tabbouleh would make a great stuffing for this recipe if you prefer.
- Love cheese? I don’t do a lot of dairy any more but some crumbled feta or goat cheese mixed into the filling would be lovely in this recipe. Check out these zucchini boats too if cheese is your thing!
- Want to make these a meal unto themselves? Add a can of chickpeas or white beans to the filling and they become a more fiber and protein packed vegetarian meal. Alternatively, use up some leftover shredded rotisserie chicken by adding it to the filling. Great for packed lunches throughout the week!
WHAT TO SERVE WITH ROUND ZUCCHINI SQUASH
As an excellent all-in-one vegetarian side dish, this round zucchini recipe would make the perfect side dish to an array of different meals.
Since these zucchini are in season from August through September, I often pair them with other seasonal main courses like honey lime sablefish with corn salsa or, my favorite meat heavy dish of grilling season: BBQ lamb ribs!
While the end of summer brings along some heaviness knowing winter is right around the corner, I try to soak up all the abundance of amazing seasonal produce that comes along with it.
It’s why I’m never in a rush to get pumpkin or apple recipes on here until well into October.
While many jump right on that train the minute Labor Day is past, I’ll just be over here happily inundated with eggplant, garden ripe tomatoes, peppers and adorable round zucchini making recipes like ciambotta, tomato basil eggplant noodles and end of summer vegetable beans skillets instead.
I encourage you to put down the pumpkin spice latte for a couple of weeks and instead embrace and enjoy each week of the year for what it offers.
And here in NY, in mid September, it’s offering plentiful zucchini!
MORE ZUCCHINI RECIPES TO TRY:
Stuffed Round Zucchini
- 4 round zucchini
- 1 1/2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil divided
- 1/4 cup dry quinoa *see note
- 1/2 cup vegetable broth
- 1 large shallot minced
- 1 large clove garlic minced
- 1/4 cup minced fresh parsley
- salt and pepper to taste
- Preheat oven to 350°F.
- Slice the tops off the round zucchini and scoop out the middle using a grapefruit spoon. Make sure to leave a small amount of the perimeter intact so that the squash retains its shape. Reserve the insides of the zucchini and set aside.
- Place the hollowed out zucchini in a baking dish along with the sliced tops and drizzle with 1 tablespoon of the olive oil. Season with salt and pepper and bake for 15-18 minutes until fork tender.
- Meanwhile, place the vegetable broth in a small sauce pot and bring to a boil. Once boiling, add the quinoa, reduce heat to low, cover and cook until the liquid is fully absorbed. Fluff with a fork and transfer to a mixing bowl. Set aside.
- While the quinoa cooks and the zucchini is in the oven, add the remaining 1/2 tablespoon of olive oil to a skillet over medium heat.
- Add the shallots and garlic to the pan and sauté until softened and fragrant, about 3 minutes.
- Next, add the reserved insides of the zucchini to the skillet and sauté until the moisture fully cooks out, about 7-8 minutes.
- Add the parsley to the skillet, season with salt and pepper and stir to combine.
- Transfer the zucchini, shallot, garlic mixture to the bowl with the cooked quinoa and stir together.
- Spoon the filling into the baked round zucchini, top with the zucchini caps and serve each stuffed zucchini as an individual portion.
This website provides approximate nutrition information for convenience and as a courtesy only. Nutrition information can vary for a variety of reasons. For the most precise nutritional data use your preferred nutrition calculator based on the actual ingredients you used in the recipe.
Gina Matsoukas is the writer, founder, photographer and recipe developer of Running to the Kitchen — a food website focused on providing healthy, wholesome recipes using fresh and seasonal ingredients as much as possible. Her work has been featured in numerous media outlets both digital and print, including MSN, Huffington post, Buzzfeed, Women’s Health and Food Network.