GRILLED MEXICAN ZUCCHINI BOATS
These grilled Mexican zucchini boats, inspired by the flavors of Mexican street corn, are the perfect side dish for summer grilling! Hallowed out zucchini halves are rubbed with a flavorful mix of spices, grilled, then fill with creamy cotija before finishing off with a splash of lime!
I made these grilled Mexican zucchini boats for a pool party a few years ago, and they’ve been on regular rotation every summer since. It’s one of my favorite recipes to pull out when we’re making dinner on the grill. For such a simple recipe, there’s ton’s of flavor from the smoky spice mixture, creamy queso fresco filling, and lime and cilantro garnish. And of course, they’re really pretty too.
This side dish was inspired by the flavors of grilled Mexican street corn, or elotes. I read about elotes ages ago in a food magazine, and was intrigued with the idea of grilled corn slathered with mayonnaise, grated cheese, chili and lime. Then when I moved to Columbia, I finally spotted them being sold out of one of the taco trucks at our local farmer’s market. Y’all, I know the idea of mayo and corn might not be appealing to everyone, but let me just say definitively it is the BEST way to eat corn.
HOW TO MAKE ZUCCHINI BOATS
Zucchini boats are just regular ‘ole zucchini with the seeds scooped out to make a well for filling. I’ve tried other zucchini boat recipes before, but they’ve always turned out bland and watery. Zucchini in the oven is just…not good. It’s too watery of a vegetable to get that nice, caramelized flavor, so you’ve got to throw it on the grill. It adds smoky char, and keeps the texture crisp-tender.
I flavored the zucchini boats with a spice mix from Naturally Ella that she uses on grilled corn. I love this spice mix for grilling proteins like chicken or salmon too, so you might want to quadruple the recipe to have more on hand. Or for the 347 more times you make this recipe over the summer.
When you’re making these grilled Mexican zucchini boats, be sure to start grilling the cut side of the zucchini, then flip it to get a quick char on the other side. You still want it to have a structure, so don’t grill it to death!
The filling for these grilled Mexican zucchini boats is made with queso fresco, a salty, crumbly Mexican cheese, and a mixture of Greek yogurt and mayo. If you can’t find queso fresco, feta is an excellent substitute, with a similar taste and texture.
Although I’m too stuck on the yummy filling of creamy queso fresco to try anything different, I bet these grilled zucchini boats will also be a tasty filling for chili, ground beef, or refried beans and cheese!
This recipe was originally posted September 2014. Recipe, images and text have been updated to give you the best content possible!