Courgette or Zucchini Boats with Bolognese Sauce {Paleo Friendly}

Courgette or Zucchini Boats

One of the things that I enjoyed the most about my Paleo/Whole 30 challenge in January was the simplicity of it.  No processed foods, no heavy or starchy carbohyrdates, no gluten or wheat. Just plenty of lean and organic protein, fresh seasonal vegetables and lots of fruit. It’s not rocket science and it’s pretty obvious that you are going to feel a million times better and start to shrink. I got to day 26, having also had no alcohol, cakes or chocolate and had lost eight pounds. I also felt clearer headed, had lots more energy and had more ‘even’ moods. Unfortunately, a (stressful) overnight stay in hospital with my little one and then an over-indulgent family party weekend knocked me off my healthy eating pedestal. However, I was able to get back on track and I’d say that I’ve kept to my new rules about 80% of the time, which I think, and hope, is sensible in the long run. This recipe for  Courgette or Zucchini Boats with Bolognese sauce has since become of my favourite go-to Paleo recipes and I try to make it once every couple of weeks to stay on track.

Courgette or Zucchini Boats

Courgette or Zucchini Boats

Courgette and Zucchini Boats

 Hope you enjoy this recipe.

Courgette or Zucchini Boats with Bolognese Sauce (Paleo Friendly)

A light, Paleo friendly supper. 
Prep Time 1 hour 2 minutes
Cook Time 6 hours 7 minutes
Total Time 7 hours 8 minutes
Servings 4


  • 1 tsp coconut oil
  • 1 large white onion chopped
  • 1 stick celery chopped
  • 2 carrots peeled, finely chopped
  • 2 garlic cloves peeled, minced
  • 500 g lean beef or steak mince
  • 3 tablespoons tomato puree
  • 500 ml made-up beef stock or homemade bone broth
  • 400 g/1 tin chopped tomatoes
  • 1 tablespoon mixed herbs
  • 8 zucchini/courgettes halved
  • 1 tbsp avocado oil
  • 4 tsp chopped hazelnuts
  • Sea salt and freshly ground pepper


  • Add the coconut oil to a large frying pan or stovetop casserole pan and gently fry the finely chopped onions, celery, carrots and garlic for around 7 minutes on a low heat.
  • Add the mince and fry for another few minutes, breaking it up with a wooden spoon. Fry until browned (around 5-10 minutes).
  • Stir in the tomato puree, then pour in the beef stock. Allow to bubble on a medium heat for 5 minutes. Tip in the chopped tomatoes and sprinkle in the mixed herbs. Cover and simmer for an hour, stirring occasionally.
  • When the Bolognese sauce is almost ready, pre-heat the oven to 200C/180C fan/gas 6. 
  • Take a teaspoon and scoop out some of the middle of each half of the zucchini/courgette. Chop the pulp finely and add it to the Bolognese sauce. Stir replace the lid and continue cooking the sauce.
  • Place the zucchini/courgette on a baking tray lined with baking paper, drizzle with avocado oil, season with salt and pepper and bake in the oven for 15 minutes.
  • Remove the zucchini/courgette boats from the oven and top each ‘boat’ with some of the Bolognese sauce. Sprinkle each boat with hazelnuts and return to the oven for a further 15 minutes. Serve straight away.  

Courgette or Zucchini Boats

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  1. What a lovely idea Ren! And very attractive too.

    I’ve not tried the Paleo diet (don’t you wish that diet and slimming diet had completely words for them?) but I realise that many aspects are similar to how I eat. it seems in line with many of the ideas behind South Beach and my efforts to eat as much raw vegan as I can.

    I think it takes years to work out what is best for your body, and when you get it right the benefits are immense.

    Many thanks for sending to Credit Crunch Munch, and sorry for taking forever to come and comment.

  2. They look delicious Ren. I’m sure I wouldn’t manage to survive on the Paleo diet – I like my carbs far too much, but this looks like a perfect Paleo recipe, full of delicious and nutritious whole foods. Thanks for entering into Simple and In Season!

    1. Ren Behan says:

      Thanks Caroline for hosting x

  3. I love this idea for courgettes – especially because your beautiful photography really does do the dish justice! Thanks for all the mentions above too. Looking forward to seeing more of your ‘whole-foods’ creations in 2013 x

    1. Thank you – doing my second Whole 30 from Thursday! Far too many celebratory occassions to navigate!

  4. brilliant idea! I feel there’s so many posibilities with these courgette boats! could top them with other sorts of mince, or maybe even a veggie filling, or rice (not paleo though). I don’t believe in being too rigid with any form of diet, as long as we enjoy real, whole foods (key word: enjoy) but wish you all the best, and I’m sure you’re doing amazing! food def looks awesome and healthy 🙂

    1. Hi Shu Han, you are right, so many possibilities, even a lovely egg fried rice perhaps?! I love the lettuce and pork mince wraps, so that filling could go in here as a change xx

  5. Loving these Ren… going to do it with quorn mince for one of my 5:2 suppers to keep things interesting… YUM! Love courgettes 🙂

    1. Yes great idea, or even very low fat turkey mince, too. Hope the 5:2 is going well!

  6. Liz Thomas says:

    Those look lovely. A bit like a recipe idea I came across in an Elizabeth David book (forget which one) which was for cooking lobster thermidor in courgette cases — I tried it and it was wonderful, though obviously not suitable for the diet with all that cream and cheese!

    Been going vaguely along the same diet track myself and do feel better for sticking to just veg and lean meat,. I have lost a bit of weight but it’s the wine that’s my problem. Do so enjoy the end of the day glass or three with friends down at the village cafe.

    I’m definitely going to try this recipe.

    Thanks and wishing you a very happy, healthy and delicious Year of the Snake.


    1. Dear LIz, great news that you are also enjoying a healthy start to the year. In my book, a little glass of red wine can be healthy! I love the tought of popping to the village cafe with friends for a glass of wine 🙂 Happy Year of the Snake, too. We’re going into China Town at the weekend to join in!

  7. Ooh Ren you’ve inspired me as I have courgettes and nuts that need using and I think this looks easier to cook than stuffed marrow which has quite a tough skin. Thank you for entering such an economical and delicious dish which I will definitely be making soon:-)

    1. Yes I once tried to cook a marrow abd it took over an hour before it started to soften. Courgettes and nice and quick. Looking forward to the Credit Crunch round up!

  8. This looks delicious Ren! Bolognese is one of our favourites and even though I always add extra veg to the sauce, it probably could be a bit healthier. My OH is not a big fan of veggies so this looks like a good way to persuade him to eat more 🙂

    1. Hi Jen, oh great, I really hope he likes it. You could, of course, stuff them with rice, too. I have a Globe Courgette recipe somewhere, but this keeps things nice and light!

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