Twice-Baked Zucchini Is The Savory Dinner Starter You've Been Needing

Zucchinis are nutritious and delicious squash that are easy to cook using a variety of methods, whether spiralized into zoodles, stir-fried with sauce in an Asian wok, simply steamed, or even incorporated into a sweet loaf of zucchini bread. But twice-baked zucchini is a real standout presentation.

A riff on the popular twice-baked potato, twice-baked zucchini requires two different cooking methods and a lengthy assembly process. That said, the results will be worth the effort, and you have ample creative license for flavor and ingredient pairings. 

You have two options for making twice-baked zucchini; you can bake the zucchini twice or use a combination of sautéing and baking. Both methods require you to scoop and sauté the raw insides before re-stuffing and baking them in the oven. You can hollow out the entire zucchini and cut it in half for vertical cylinders or cut the zucchini in half vertically to create zucchini boats. If you're making boats, you bake the shells before stuffing them, and if vertical cylinders are more to your liking, you should sauté the shells before stuffing them. Whichever method you choose, you'll sauté the raw insides with seasonings, aromatics, herbs, and other ingredients of your choice before stuffing the partially cooked shells, topping them with cheese or other garnishes, and placing them back into the oven to finish cooking.

Twice-baked zucchini flavor pairings

Zucchini has a subtle flavor that tastes delicious simply seasoned or with more extravagant flavor pairings. Depending on how elaborately or simply you want to make them, twice-baked zucchini could be a side dish, appetizer, or main course.

You can make a simpler twice-baked zucchini by sautéing the insides with minced onions, garlic, salt and pepper, and a few fresh herbs, and using breadcrumbs and parmesan cheese as binders and for flavor. That second round of baking will bring out the nuttiness of the zucchini, caramelize the aromatics, and toast and melt the breadcrumbs and cheese for a super flavorful side dish.

You could adapt this simple recipe into a reimagined squash casserole by caramelizing the onions until deep golden brown before throwing them into a sauté with butter and zucchini, then combining the filling with cornbread crumbs, sugar, and an egg for binding. After stuffing the zucchini, top it with more cornbread and a small cube of butter before baking it.

To make twice-baked zucchini into a main course, you could blend the insides with ground meat, more vegetables, cheeses, or starches like potato and corn. Zucchini is a squash and thus a Mexican crop, so you could sauté a Mexican-inspired filling with beef, taco seasoning, onions, diced jalapeño, and kernels of corn and add shredded jack cheese as a binder.