Italian Summer Squash Boats Recipe

squash boats
Patsy Catsos, MS, RDN, LD
Total Time: 55 min
Prep Time: 25 min
Cook Time: 30 min
Servings: 6

Nutrition Highlights (per serving)

261 calories
15g fat
10g carbs
23g protein
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Nutrition Facts
Servings: 6
Amount per serving  
Calories 261
% Daily Value*
Total Fat 15g 19%
Saturated Fat 6g 30%
Cholesterol 62mg 21%
Sodium 333mg 14%
Total Carbohydrate 10g 4%
Dietary Fiber 3g 11%
Total Sugars 6g  
Includes 0g Added Sugars 0%
Protein 23g  
Vitamin D 0mcg 0%
Calcium 185mg 14%
Iron 3mg 17%
Potassium 791mg 17%
*The % Daily Value (DV) tells you how much a nutrient in a food serving contributes to a daily diet. 2,000 calorie a day is used for general nutrition advice.

These summer squash boats give you all the flavor and satisfaction of a hearty Italian meal without the heavy carbohydrates that are often associated with this cuisine. The subtle flavor of the summer squash makes it perfect for the dish; it does not overpower the fragrant herbs and makes for a tasty low-FODMAP meal.


  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 cup chopped red bell pepper
  • 1 pound lean ground beef
  • 3 medium summer squashes (2 pounds total)
  • 2 teaspoons Italian seasoning
  • 2 tablespoons chopped fresh basil
  • ¼ teaspoon salt
  • ½ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • ¾ cup crushed tomatoes
  • 1 cup shredded mozzarella cheese


  1. Preheat the oven to 350F and grease a baking sheet.

  2. In a large skillet, heat olive oil on medium heat. When it is shimmering and fragrant, add the chopped peppers and sauté for 5 minutes. Add ground beef, break the meat up with a spatula, and continue to cook for 10 more minutes.​

  3. Trim the ends of the squashes and cut each in half lengthwise. Using a small spoon or a melon baller, scoop out the seeds and flesh of the squash, leaving shells approximately ½ -inch thick. Place the squash cut sides up on the prepared baking sheet and set aside.

  4. Drain the fat from the meat. Place the skillet back on the burner and stir in the Italian seasoning, basil, salt, pepper, and crushed tomatoes. Let simmer uncovered on medium heat for 3 minutes.

  5. Using a spoon, evenly distribute the meat mixture into the squash shells. Bake for 15 minutes on the middle rack of the oven. Evenly distribute the shredded cheese on top of the squash boats and return to the oven until the squash is fork tender and the cheese is melted 12 to 15 minutes. Serve warm.

Ingredient Variations and Substitutions

Half a teaspoon of dried basil can be used in place of fresh basil.

Cooking and Serving Tips

If possible, choose squashes with wide shapes, which are easier to work with this recipe than long narrow ones.

Unfortunately, manufacturers do not make small cans of crushed tomatoes or tomato puree, and tomato sauce usually contains onions and garlic. Freeze the leftover crushed tomatoes after measuring some out of a larger can to use in a sauce or soup at a future date. Or, puree a small can of diced tomatoes in the blender to use in this recipe.

Italian seasoning does not usually contain onion or garlic, but read the list of ingredients just in case. Or substitute 1/2 teaspoon each dried thyme, rosemary, oregano, and basil.

Do not pour hot fat into your sink, as it will clog the drain. Instead, pour it into a disposable container and put into your trash can after it has hardened.

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By Patsy Catsos, MS, RDN, LD
Patsy Catsos, MS, RDN, LD, is a nutrition expert with expertise in GI disorders. She is a leader in using the FODMAP approach with IBS patients.