Two Dinners in One: Tex-Mex Stuffed Zucchini and "Hamburger Helper"

I love it when you get two meals out of little effort. This stuffed zucchini recipe leaves you with extra filling to eat in whatever manner your taste buds desire. We mixed it with brown rice pasta and called it "Hamburger Helper," but you could also eat it over rice, put it in a quesadilla, or use it as a crepe filling.

The stuffed zucchini was just enough for our family of one hungry dad, one nursing mom, and one almost three year old with a good appetite. Double it for a larger family or for company. The leftover filling was enough to feed us dinner the next day with about 2/3 pound pasta.

Bonus: This is a great way to use up overgrown zucchini!

Meal #1: Tex-Mex Stuffed Zucchini

Adapted from Simply in Season

1 very large zucchini
1 lb ground beef (grass-fed is best!)
1 onion, chopped
1 bell pepper, any color, chopped
1 c. corn, fresh or frozen
1 c. chopped tomatoes, canned, fresh, or frozen
1 chopped jalapeno pepper (use a glove! they burn!)
2 cloves garlic, minced or pressed
1 T. chili powder
1 t. dried oregano (or 2 t. fresh)
1 t. ground cumin
1/4 c. homemade bread crumbs (Gluten- or grain-free? I think it would be just fine without them!)
1/2 c. Monterey Jack cheese, shredded
2 T. cilantro or parsley (I used a cube of parsley that my very kind friend froze in ice cube trays for me from her overgrown parsley patch!)


1. Preheat oven to 350F.

2. Prepare zucchini: Slice in half lengthwise. Scoop out flesh with a melon baller, leaving about 1/4 inch thick shell. Chop the flesh roughly.

the hollowed out zucchini
3. Brown beef with onion and peppers in a large skillet. Drain off excess fat if desired.

4. Add corn, tomatoes, jalapeno, garlic, chili powder, oregano, cumin, and zucchini flesh to skillet.

5. Bring to a boil and cook until the liquid evaporates, about 5 minutes.

heirloom tomatoes
6. Stir in bread crumbs (if using), 1/4 c. cheese, and parsley or cilantro. (If herbs are frozen, add earlier so they can thaw.)

7. Fill the zucchini shells with some of the mixture, saving some for your next meal.

filled and ready to go in the oven

8. Bake in preheated oven for 30-35 minutes.

9. Sprinkle with remaining 1/4 c. cheese. Return to oven and bake for an additional 12-15 minutes, until cheese is bubbly and zucchini shells are tender when poked with a fork.

10. Garnish with cilantro if you have some around.

11. Cut into serving pieces and enjoy!

This next recipe is so easy I probably don't need to tell you how to do it. But just in case...

Meal #2: Tex-Mex Zucchini & Corn "Hamburger Helper" 


Leftover filling from Stuffed Zucchini
2/3 lb. brown rice pasta, such as penne or shells
1/4 c. beef or chicken broth (have you frozen it in ice cube trays yet?)
Monterey Jack cheese to taste
salt and pepper

  1. Cook pasta according to package directions. Drain and rinse briefly.
  2. Add back to pot with broth and leftover filling. Stir to heat; add cheese and stir. 
  3. Season with salt and pepper. Taste, add more of whatever you think it needs (I added a little more chili powder), and serve.
  4. Garnish with cheese, cilantro, and diced avocado.

Tip: If you need to add a little more bulk to the leftovers to get a meal out of it, add some pinto or black beans.

Who needs Hamburger Helper?

 What's your favorite way to use an overgrown zucchini?

This is part of: Real Food Wednesday, Whole Foods Wednesday, Healthy2Day Wednesday, Keep it Real Thursday, Pennywise Platter Thursday, Simple Lives Thursday, Frugal Food Thursday, Make Your Own Monday, Scratch Cookin' Tuesday


  1. Wow-love this recipe! The tomatoes look so ripe! Thank you for sharing this amazing dish with us at Healthy 2day Wednesdays

  2. What a delicious way to use up zucchini! The growing season is just starting here in South Florida, so no overgrown zucchini for us... yet!

    Thanks for linking up with Frugal Food Thursday at Frugal Follies!

    1. Thanks Laura! I guess you can bookmark it for later in the season! :)

  3. Thank you for your submission on Nourishing Treasures' Make Your Own! Monday link-up.

    Check back tomorrow when the new link-up is running to see if you were one of the top 3 featured posts! :)