Quinoa-Stuffed Zucchini with Ricotta and Pine Nuts Recipe

"Man, I'm stuffed!" said the zucchini.

Last night, my BFFs Laurence and Marie-Laure were coming to dinner, and as a main dish, I served these Quinoa-Stuffed Zucchini.

These small “eight-ball” zucchinis had caught my eye in the sidewalk stall of our produce store and I immediately saw, in blinking letters: Stuffed zucchini! I got nine of them as there would be three of us, and three is always a good number of items to have on a plate.

I started out by cutting off each of their cute little hats neatly (reserving them of course), then scooped out the flesh, being careful not to rip the skin, with a melon baller.

Let me stop for a second here and tell you about my OXO melon baller: I bought it on a whim about two years ago, and I don’t have the faintest idea why, since I don’t remember having ever felt the need for a melon balling apparatus before. I guess it just struck me as neat in the store. These things seem to happen. I did use it for the first time last summer (to ball melons, of all things), and did find that it worked beautifully! It’s pretty sharp, like a little rounded knife. Like I said: neat.

The filling is a simple mix of cooked quinoa, ricotta, sautéed onions and garlic, and the carved-out flesh of the zucchini. This I proceeded to spoon into the zucchini shells, and was astonished to see that I had precisely the right amount of stuffing to fill them.

Isn’t that creepy? That normally never happens, right? Kind of like when you dig a grave, and there’s never enough dirt to fill it back in? OK, forget I said that. Anyhow, my zucchinis were stuffed to the brim, and I put the lids back on. I did try to return each hat to its rightful owner, but they had gotten mixed up, and I figured they were probably past caring at that point.

This is a lovely dish that you can prepare in advance, and pop back into the oven when your friend get there. And Marie-Laure and Laurence were very appreciative indeed. “C’est vraiment délicieux!” they said.

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Zucchini Stuffed with Quinoa and Ricotta Recipe

Prep Time: 20 minutes

Cook Time: 50 minutes

Total Time: 1 hour

Serves 4.

Zucchini Stuffed with Quinoa and Ricotta Recipe


  • 190 grams (1 cup) uncooked quinoa, rinsed in fresh water
  • 12 medium round zucchini
  • 3 tablespoons pine nuts, toasted
  • 1 yellow onion, finely chopped
  • 2 cloves of garlic, finely chopped
  • 120 g (1/2 cup) ricotta
  • 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. First, cook the quinoa. Bring 360ml (1 1/2 cups) water to a simmer. Add the quinoa and simmer, partially covered, for 10 minutes.
  2. Remove from the heat, cover, and let rest for at least 10 minutes; a little more is fine. The grains will continue to unfurl and plump up during this time; it will have absorbed all the water and won't need draining.
  3. Preheat the oven to 200°C.
  4. 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.
  5. 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.
  6. Put into the oven for 20 minutes; this will give the zucchini shells a head start on the cooking.
  7. 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.
  8. 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
  9. Add in the cooked quinoa and pine nuts, and mix well.
  10. 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).
  11. Divide the filling evenly among the zucchini shells and place the hats on top.
  12. Return to the oven for 20 minutes.
  13. Serve with a fresh grating of Parmesan, if desired, and green salad.

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