French Stuffed Zucchini Recipe

Courgettes farcies

We buy most of our fruits and vegetables at our favorite little fruit stand on rue des Abbesses, where the staff is friendly, greets us with big smiles, gets stuff for us from the back, and is always happy to discuss what’s the best seasonal choice and how to prepare it.

So last week, when I saw that they sold little ball-shaped zucchini, I instantly decided to get a few, because anything round and small and cute gets my enthusiastic vote. And of course, what can you do with little round zucchini, if not stuff them with goodies?

I had made similar Quinoa-Stuffed Zucchini a few months ago, filling the shells with quinoa, ricotta and pinenuts, and had enjoyed the process as much as the result. I decided to do something different this time, a non-vegetarian version that would use ground beef instead, which is the traditional way to make French stuffed zucchini.

This was delicious, and very easy to make. The zucchini look so pretty, and the meat and onion filling is a simple but glorious complement. Maxence enjoyed it particularly, and said that this was the best thing I had done in a while. (He’s not quite the soup fan I have become, so I’m afraid he’s been feeling a little deprived.)

Finally, my advice is this: make sure you have leftovers, as this tastes even better the next day.

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Stuffed Round Zucchini Recipe

Prep Time: 20 minutes

Cook Time: 45 minutes

Total Time: 1 hour

Serves 4.

Stuffed Round Zucchini Recipe


  • 12 medium round zucchini
  • 450 g (1 pound) ground beef
  • 1 yellow onion, finely chopped
  • 2 cloves of garlic, finely chopped
  • Olive oil
  • 2 teaspoons mixed dried herbs, such as Herbes de Provence
  • 1 teaspoon fine sea salt
  • Freshly ground pepper
  • Freshly grated Parmesan cheese, for serving (optional)


  1. Preheat the oven to 200°C.
  2. Slice a "hat" off the top of each zucchini, and carve the inside using a melon baller or a sharp-edged teaspoon, reserving the flesh.
  3. Put the zucchini shells and hats in a baking dish. Drizzle with olive oil, sprinkle with 1/2 teaspoon salt, pepper, and 1 teaspoon herbs.
  4. Put into the oven for 15 minutes; this will give the zucchini shells a head start on the cooking.
  5. Meanwhile, heat a glug of olive oil in a large skillet, and sauté the onion and garlic for 5 minutes, stirring regularly, until soft and fragrant.
  6. Add the reserved zucchini flesh, and season with 1/2 teaspoon salt, pepper and 1 teaspoon herbs. Cook for 10 minutes, stirring from time to time, until cooked through. If the zucchini has rendered a lot of juice, drain the mixture in a sieve placed over a bowl
  7. Add in the ground beef and mix well.
  8. Take the zucchini shells out of the oven. If some cooking juice has pooled at the bottom of the shells, flip to pour out (the zucchini shells will be hot).
  9. Divide the filling evenly among the zucchini shells and place the hats on top.
  10. Return to the oven for 30 minutes.
  11. Serve with a fresh grating of Parmesan, if desired, and green salad.
  • Time for a silly question–are the hollowed out zucchinis really just for show, or are they edible with those skins on them? When you say scoop out the flesh, does that mean that all that is really left is the zucchini “rind”? Does that taste good? Sorry, I’m not up on my zucchini.

  • Jay Francis

    Your mention of eggplants. I thought I might share my method of baking them. The farmer’s market near my house offers a big bucket of eggplants for $1 when they are about to start going bad. For me this is good news. Not very much money for very ripe eggplants. I peel them and then cut them into 1 centimeter slices. I sprinkle only the smallest amount of olive oil on them and also sea salt and herbs de provence. Now for the secret. Do you have any of the Silpat silicone non-stick sheets? I place my eggplants on the Silpat sheets. Using my Silpat sheets allows me to get by with very little oil. I bake them at 175 C for 45 minutes. The centers are soft and creamy and the outsides are slightly dry and crisp. You can use them like potato chips to dip into cream dips.

  • Jennifer – I’ve never met a question that was silly, and they’re all very welcome! The zucchini shells are totally and absolutely edible! And you carve them until about 4 mm of flesh remains on the skin, so the shells won’t tear when you stuff them…

    Jay – Thanks a lot for the eggplant tip, it’s very appealing! Next time I see some, all sorry-looking and abandonned at the grocery store, I’ll think about your advice and rescue them! :)

  • Yum! And I am so flattered to have my humble confit used in a recipe by the Clotilde — and a zucchini recipe, no less!

  • This looks so yummy Clotilde! I’ve never seen round zucchini before, they’re very cute :)

  • Jackie – Not sure what _humble_ confit you’re referring to, the jar you gave me was full of the _glorious_ one! ;)

    Angela – I do find them very cute (and I’m not surprised you’d think so too!), and make for a pretty presentation!

  • Meg

    I LOVE courgettes rondes!! I bought them and made a dish similar to this (but with sausage and some bread crumbs) one time when I was in Provence. . . and can never find them here. Philippe smuggled some seeds back from France last week (shh, don’t tell), among them. . . cavaillon melons and courgettes rondes! We hope they’ll grow the Hudson Valley. . .

  • Meg – I hope they do too! Stuffing regular long zucchini just isn’t the same, is it? :)

  • jenny

    your stuffed zucchini looks delicious. they are having some in the Whole Food store in Bay Area, CA. I was wondering how do you get onion confit? :)

  • Jenny – Oooh which Whole Foods store? The one in Cupertino? That was my favorite… :) The onion confit was a gift from Jackie, a fellow blogger, who posted the recipe here : . In France, you can also occasionally find it in gourmet stores, in the condiment aisle. But it’s not as good as Jackie’s! :) Maybe Trader Joe’s carries something similar?

  • Sophie

    As a person with a greater part French than American, I have freshly arrived from Paris to Boston to set up shop. Sadly, Whole Foods store in Cambridge MA did not carry onion confit (my visit however did provide an opportunity to enlighten the Whole Foods staff about the existence of this delicious ingredient). Suffice to say fig and onion marinade had to step in as an inferior, but to be fair adequate, ingredient. Additionally, the funky little round courgettes were nowhere in sight. As a result, capsicums were substituted – definitely not as fun but turned out tout simplement délicieux all the same! Merci Clotilde!

  • andrea

    Hi Clotilde — it’s me again — and again about the dead link to Jackie — this time the onion confit… can’t find it now that The Daily Bread is defunct… can you post it? or do you know where I can find it? (Needless to say, I’ve already searched the new blog you told me about — and google, of course — which keeps sending me to references to dead links!

  • andrea

    please ignore my last post — I’ve found The Daily Bread posts through internet archive’s wayback machine… for anyone else looking…

  • Isabelle

    I added ground cinnamon, pine nuts and raisins to the beef, it has been quite a success I must say !

  • Susan

    Those look like baby gem squash – they are very nice, but mature gems are even more delicious (although you can’t eat the skin then)

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