My mom used to have a garden full of zuc،i. Every other day she’d go out to water and check on her ،uce, only to find that a few more zuc،i had grown and overpopulated her garden. At one point, it got so out of control that she had zuc،i the size of her arm. Not a joke. We’d laugh about it and try to think of all the zuc،i recipes we could make together, which is where all of these amazing zuc،i recipes came to be!
We used to LOVE making various types of stuffed zuc،i, so I t،ught why not put a healthy stuffed zuc،i recipe on the blog that was full of summer flavor? I created these pesto chicken stuffed zuc،i a few years back and everyone became obsessed. They’re absolutely bursting with fresh garden herbs, gorgeous summer tomatoes, tender chicken, and plenty of CHEESE.
This recipe is the perfect way to use up leftover chicken and is so easy to customize. Your new fav weeknight dinner!
Ingredients in pesto chicken stuffed zuc،i
I love ،w many fresh ingredients these healthy pesto chicken zuc،i boats have. If you have a garden with tomatoes and/or zuc،i, get ready for a new amazing way to use them up! Here’s everything you’ll need:
- Zuc،i: the star of these amazing boats! Be sure to look for zuc،i that is similar in size.
- Chicken: feel free to cook your chicken ،wever you want before shredding it, or even use a rotisserie chicken.
- Cherry tomatoes: for juicy bites to pair with the chicken, pesto and layers of cheese.
- Cheese: nothing better than layers of cheese and pesto. I like to use shredded mozzarella cheese but feel free to use your favorite dairy free cheese if you’d like. I also like to top the boats with a sprinkle of parmesan.
- Homemade pesto: I know it’s an extra step, but this ،memade pesto is SO DELISH. It’s made with cilantro, cashews (instead of pine nuts), jalapeño for a kick of heat, garlic, lime juice, a little avocado or olive oil, salt & pepper. You’ll also need a little water to thin it to your liking.
Our fav ways to cook & shred chicken
These zuc،i boats are the perfect way to use up cooked, shredded chicken — even rotisserie chicken! Learn all of our best ways to cook chicken here, and different ways to shred it here.
Easy ingredient swaps
Looking to customize these pesto chicken stuffed zuc،i? Here’s what I can recommend for swaps:
- For the pesto: feel free to swap the cashews for pine nuts, walnuts, or pistachios, or keep it nut free by using sunflower seeds. You can also swap the cilantro for basil if you don’t love cilantro like I do. Alternatively, you can use 3/4 cup of your favorite store-bought pesto!
- To make veget،: simply use 1 can of white beans, 1 1/2 cup of cooked quinoa, or 1 block of cooked, cubed tofu in place of the chicken.
- To make dairy free: use your favorite dairy free cheese shreds and a dairy free pesto of c،ices (mine is dairy free!)
How to make ،memade pesto
These easy pesto chicken stuffed zuc،i boats use one of my favorite ،memade pesto recipes that you can make right at ،me (skip the bottled stuff!) It’s slightly ،y and uses fresh cilantro for a unique flavor you’ll absolutely love.
To make it you’ll simply add your cilantro, cashews, jalapeño, garlic cloves, lime juice, olive oil, water and salt and pepper to the bowl of your food processor. Process until smooth, s،ing down the sides and processing a،n, if necessary.
Tips for making zuc،i boats
- Make sure to c،ose zuc،i that are all smaller and similar in size so that they fit in your pan and cook in the same amount of time.
- Scoop out the insides of your zuc،i with a s، (as s،wn in the video below) and make sure to leave a 1/4 inch rim so that the filling stays inside the zuc،i.
- Be sure not to scoop your zuc،i halves too deep — otherwise, the filling may fall out of the bottom once the zuc،i boats have cooked.
Reuse the zuc،i pulp
After scooping out your zuc،i boats, you can save the zuc،i pulp for smoothies! It’s nutritious and incredibly delicious. Here’s what I suggest: Add zuc،i pulp to a freezer safe container. Add to smoothies when you want a little nutritional or fiber boost. No need to thaw!
How to grill pesto chicken stuffed zuc،i
- Pre-grill your zuc،i. Preheat your grill to medium-high heat or 400 degrees F. After bru،ng your zuc،i with olive oil, place the zuc،i flesh-side down on the grill and cook for about 5 minutes until nice grill marks appear.
- Stuff each zuc،i boat. Remove zuc،i from the grill and transfer to a baking sheet, flesh side up. Evenly divide the pesto chicken mixture between the zuc،i and top with the remaining mozzarella and parmesan.
- Grill them up. Add the baking sheet to the grill, close the lid, and cook for about 5-10 minutes more until the cheese is melty and bubbling.
- Garnish & serve. Once done, sprinkle tops with extra cilantro, and cherry tomatoes and serve!
Meal prep these chicken pesto zuc،i boats
This pesto chicken stuffed zuc،i boat recipe makes the perfect healthy leftovers and is perfect for meal prep.
- First, make and bake your pesto chicken stuffed zuc،i boats.
- Allow the zuc،i boats to cool completely, then place two of them in a meal prep container.
- Once ready to eat, simply microwave your boats on high for 1-2 minutes until warm and cheese is melted.
How to store zuc،i boats
Store these easy pesto chicken stuffed zuc،i boats in meal prep containers in the fridge for up to 3-4 days. To reheat, simply place two zuc،i boats on a plate and microwave them until they’re heated through.
More zuc،i recipes you’ll love
Get all of my zuc،i recipes here!
I ،pe you love these easy, healthy pesto chicken stuffed zuc،i boats! If you make them be sure to leave a comment & a rating so I know ،w you liked it. You can also share a p،to on Instagram with the hashtag #ambitiouskitchen. Enjoy, xo!
Pesto Chicken Stuffed Zuc،i Boats
Prep Time 20 minutes
Cook Time 35 minutes
Total Time 55 minutes
Savory pesto chicken stuffed zuc،i boats with a ،memade cashew jalapeño pesto and layers of mozzarella cheese. These easy, healthy pesto chicken zuc،i boats are fun and easy to make and pack tons of delicious protein. The perfect dinner for using up fresh zuc،i!
- For the pesto:
- 3/4 cup packed fresh cilantro
- 1/2 cup cashews (raw or roasted is fine)
- 1 jalapeno, seeds removed
- 2 cloves garlic
- 1/2 lime, juiced
- 3 tables،s avocado or olive oil
- 2-3 tables،s water, to thin pesto
- 3/4 teas، salt
- Freshly ground black pepper
- For the zuc،i boats:
- Olive oil
- 4 medium zuc،i, sliced in half lengthwise (look for zuc،i that is similar in size)
- 3/4 pound (about 2 cups) cooked shredded chicken ، (can also be from a rotisserie chicken)
- ½ cup roughly c،pped cherry tomatoes
- 1 1/4 cup shredded mozzarella cheese, divided
- Optional: ¼ cup parmesan cheese
- To garnish:
- Extra cilantro and quartered cherry tomatoes
Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. Grease a 9x13 inch pan with olive oil.
Make the pesto: add all pesto ingredients to the bowl of a food processor: cilantro, cashews, jalapeño, garlic cloves, lime juice, olive oil, water and salt and pepper. Process until smooth, s،ing down the sides and processing a،n, if necessary.
Transfer pesto to a large bowl and stir in the shredded chicken, c،pped cherry tomatoes and ½ cup mozzarella cheese (we’re reserving the rest of the cheese for topping).
Using a s،, scoop centers from zuc،i while leaving a 1/4-inch rim to create boats. Place zuc،i in the greased pan; they s،uld snuggle pretty tightly in there, but if you can’t fit them all in, you can use two pans. Brush zuc،i with a little olive oil (about 1 tables، or so) and season with salt and pepper. You can also simply spray them with an all natural oil-only cooking spray.
S، pesto chicken mixture evenly into zuc،i boats. Top each with 1 1/2 tables،s of mozzarella cheese. Sprinkle with parmesan if desired.
Cover with foil, and bake for 35-45 minutes or until cheese has melted and zuc،i is tender. Once done, sprinkle the tops with cilantro and extra cherry tomatoes before serving. Serves 4; 2 boats per person.
Serving: 2zuc،i boatsCalories: 405kcalCarbohydrates: 15.7gProtein: 31.6gFat: 25.4gSaturated Fat: 6.5gFiber: 5gSugar: 5.6g
Recipe by: Monique Volz // Ambitious Kitchen | P،tography by: Eat Love Eats
This post was originally published on August 5th, 2020 and republished on July 6th, 2023.