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.

Have you tried this? Share your pics on Instagram!

Please tag your pictures with #cnzrecipes. I'll share my favorites!

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.
  • haide

    wow, the group picture is really very pretty. so green and round and shiny!

    i came across your site through a random web search… must have been something like ‘foodie blog’… it’s great! clean lines, with only one photo at the top so i can read it at work :o)

    and all these people who are eating one meal adn obsess and fantasise about the next! feel very at home. love thinking about good food (and eating it of course).

  • Haide – I’m delighted you like C&Z, stick around, make yourself at home, it’s good to have you here! :)

  • Erin

    I have never used my melon baller for melon. It does not work for scooping out truffles.

  • I have never seen such cute zucchini before! How come we don’t get cute zucchini like that? I’m sure many more people would eat zucchini if it were cuter…

    It would be a little tough to scoop out the innards of the long zucchini we have here. Any suggestions for how to work around that problem?

    (I’m in Silicon Valley by the way!)

  • a

    there’s an italian tool just to scoop out the insides of long zucchini.

  • Diane: I use a teaspoon to scoop out the insides of the long zucchini.

  • jude

    Am new here, having been turned on by SF Bay Area food writer, Pat Fusco. Love the site. These stuffed zucchini bring back a sweet memory of living in Italy and throwing parties on a shoestring; sometimes the whole menu was stuffed baby zucchini & eggplant and real pumpkin-y squash pies with whipped cream…and LOTS of wine. (You can tell what I do for a living from my email address!)

  • Ya that’s true I had never seen such a zucchini, but there I Found some thing beyond that Rasagulla a ball made of milk ingredients dipped in the sugar cream. An amazing dessert in every ones and give an everlasting taste…….

  • nutellawunder

    Those zucchini were actually what made me hooked to the site! I have seldomly had so much fun reading a recepie and it has given me such an urge to try it, that I ran around, found the zucchini, bought a melon baller and tried the whole thing! It was sooo good, that I went back to the Marché d’Aligre, ordered more, and will try them on my guests tomorrow night! Thank you so much for such a good dinner!


  • Liesbet

    Hello, I just tried out this recipe and it was delicious. I had to replace the ricotta by “queso fresco”, as there was no ricotta in the supermarket today (although there usually is)and I used baby zucchini instead of the round ones, but it worked out perfectly. And as it looks so nice to serve, perfectly suited when you invite people as well! Perfect combination of something from here (the quinoa, I’m in Lima, Peru) with a typical european thing like pesto.

    • Wonderful to hear, thanks for reporting back!

Get the newsletter

Receive FREE email updates with all the latest recipes, plus exclusive inspiration and Paris tips. You can also choose to be notified when a new post is published.

View the latest edition of the newsletter.