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Zapallitos Rellenos Chilean Cheesy Zucchini Boats

Versión en español

Cheesy Zucchini Boats, Chilean recipeMy favorite dishes as a child were Zapallitos rellenos or Cheesy Zucchini Boats. 

I seldom make them here because, for years, I’ve been looking high and low for large zucchinis like the ones we used in Chile. Suitable to be hollowed and stuffed, I now buy two different kinds: round and thinner zucchinis to recreate this popular Chilean dish.

Although occasionally, I’ve found just the right kind of zucchini. And lately, I’ve managed to grow them in Houston and Seattle. zapallos italianos rellenos

Remember to taste zucchini while cutting them; there’s nothing worse than a bitter zucchini! If it’s bitter when raw, it will be bitter when cooked. Throw away.

Italian zucchini, or Zapallitos Italianos, is Chile’s most popular variety of summer squash. Italian zucchini are usually slender and cylindrical, with smooth, dark green skin. They can grow about 6 to 8 inches (15 to 20 cm) in length, although smaller sizes are often preferred for culinary purposes.

Italian zucchini have a delicate, mild flavor and a tender texture. They are less watery and have a slightly nuttier taste compared to larger zucchinis.Cheesy zucchini boats

Common uses for Zapallitos Italianos in Chilean cuisine:

    • Sautéed: Slice them into thin rounds and cook them with onions. They make a delicious side dish or can be used in pasta dishes.
    • Stuffed: Italian zucchini are often hollowed out and stuffed like in this recipe or with ground meat and rice. They are then baked until tender. 
    • Soup: Crema de Zapallitos.
    • Frittata or Tortilla de Zapallitos: Italian zucchini can be sliced and added to frittatas or omelets for a flavorful and nutritious breakfast or brunch.
    • Casseroles: See Pastel de Zapallitos.Cheesy zucchini boats


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Zapallitos Rellenos Chilean Cheesy Zucchini Boats

A Chilean traditional casserole.

  • Total Time:
    1 hour 10 minutes

  • Yield:



  1. Wash and dry the zucchini.
  2. In a medium pan, place the zucchini and cover half of them with water and salt. Place over medium-high heat for 10-15 minutes. The idea is to get zucchini to soften. Drain and allow to cool enough to manipulate. You can do the same in the microwave.
  3. Preheat the oven to 400F or 200C.
  4. Heat 1 tablespoon oil over medium-high heat in the same pan and brown the thinly chopped onion for about 8-10 minutes, stirring occasionally.
    Sauteed onions.
  5. Cut zucchinis lengthwise and, using a spoon, scrape the pulp to form boats and reserve the pulp in a bowl.
    Hollows zucchinis.
  6. Add the bread in small bits, browned onion, and grated cheese to the bowl, stir well, and adjust seasoning using salt and pepper.
    Stuffing for the zucchini.
  7. In an oven dish, place the zucchinis like boats. Fill with the previous mix and cover with laminated cheese. At this point, you can cover it with plastic wrap and refrigerate to bake the following day.
    Filled zucchini boats.
  8. Bake for 25 minutes or until golden. If you kept them in the fridge, it would take a little longer, about 40 minutes.
  9. Serve with rice.
  • Author: Pilar Hernandez
  • Prep Time: 30 minutes
  • Cook Time: 40 minutes
  • Category: Casserole
  • Method: Oven-baked
  • Cuisine: Chilean


  • Serving Size:
  • Calories: 233
  • Sugar: 3 g
  • Sodium: 1048.5 mg
  • Fat: 13 g
  • Saturated Fat: 7.3 g
  • Carbohydrates: 15.7 g
  • Fiber: 1.4 g
  • Protein: 13.3 g

Keywords: Cheese Zucchini Boats

Cheesy Zucchini Boats, Chilean recipe

The Chilean Kitchen*


If you enjoyed this recipe, you would also enjoy my cookbook* featuring 75 Chilean recipes for all seasons. It is lovingly written and scrumptiously photographed, and you’ll delight in the best Chilean cuisine offers, with easy-to-follow recipes tailored to American ingredients and grocery stores.

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