Take-out Tuesday, Zucchini Boats on an Orzo Sea with Pesto Spirals

This is basically spaghetti and meat sauce…Shhhh…. when you change it up just a tad and give it a fancy name, you turn a cow’s ear into a silk purse~is that how the saying goes?   Something like that!   Whipping up the Pesto Spirals takes about, umm, 30 seconds!

pesto spiral thepaintedapron.com

I only had one zucchini which wasn’t quite enough for 4 so instead of individual stuffed zucchini boats, I decided to make  zucchini “row boats”…haha


and put them on a bed of pasta to catch the overflow of sauce


Cut the washed zucchini in half and then cut the halves again to make 4 little boats


and toss them into the microwave, wrapped in a paper towel, and try not to judge me for having crumbs in my microwave.  I cleaned it right after I took this photo,  I promise!


Cook them for 2 minutes or until fairly soft, and scoop out zucchini pulp with a melon baller or spoon


Sprinkle with salt and let drain upside down on a paper towel


This is so important to prevent a soggy casserole later


Saute some Italian sausage until brown. Remove from skillet and drain.


Add mushrooms to the sausage drippings, throw some diced onion and garlic into the skillet too if you want.  When mushrooms are done, return sausage to the skillet


Throw in the zucchini pulp, season with salt & pepper, Italian seasoning, garlic powder {if you didn’t use fresh garlic} and give it a stir~


Sometimes simple is just hard to beat~


I didn’t have much in the pantry to choose from, but I had a little orzo and a little ditalini, both small pastas.  After cooking, I mixed them with a little ok, a lot, of Parmesan,  to make the “orzo sea”


Top the pasta with the zucchini boats


and load them up with meat sauce

zucchini boats on pasta thepaintedapron.com

Top with more Parmesan and bake at 350 for 30-40 minutes until heated through and bubbly.  You can also assemble and refrigerate for later baking if desired.


The rolls are just refrigerated bread stick dough


Spread with pesto


and cut into spirals

pesto spiral rolls thepaintedapron.com 1

and baked according to package directions

Pesto Spirals

fast and delicious baked rolls
Prep Time 5 minutes
Course Bread, Side Dish
Cuisine American, Italian
Servings 8 rolls


  • 1 can breadstick dough or crescent roll dough sheet
  • 1/2 cup prepared pesto
  • Parmesan cheese


  • Unroll dough onto a piece of parchment paper
  • Spread dough with an even layer of pesto and sprinkle with Parmesan cheese
  • Starting at long end, roll dough into a log, using parchment paper if desired. Place log seam side down on paper. Wrap paper around dough and refrigerate for 1 hour if time permits, to make slicing easier.
  • Slice into 8- 12 slices and place slices cut side up on a parchment lined baking sheet. Bake according to package directions for dough, or until dough is golden and cooked through.
  • Garnish with additional Parmesan if desired.
zucchini & meat sauce thepaintedapron.com

Dinner’s ready!

Here’s the recipe:


Prep Time 30 minutes
Cook Time 35 minutes
Course Main Course
Cuisine American, Italian
Servings 4


  • 1 jar marinara sauce
  • 2 Italian sausage links
  • 8 oz. sliced mushrooms
  • 1/2 onion chopped
  • Italian seasoning
  • garlic powder or 1 garlic clove minced
  • 1-2 zucchini
  • 1/2 cup fresh Parmesan cheese
  • Orzo or any small past


  • Wash zucchini, trim ends and cut in half. Scoop out pulp with a melon baller and dice pulp. Salt zucchini and turn upside down on paper towels to drain while you make sauce.
  • Brown sausage in skillet, remove and drain well. Add mushrooms, zucchini pulp and onion to skillet and cook until mushrooms are golden and onions are soft. Return sausage to skillet and season with salt, pepper, Italian seasoning and garlic powder or garlic. Add Marinara and simmer for 15 minutes. Cook pasta, drain. Add 1/4 cup Parmesan cheese. Place pasta in the bottom of and oil sprayed casserole dish and top with zucchini boats. Fill zucchini boats generously with sauce and top with more Parmesan. Cover and refrigerate for up to 24 hours or bake at 350 until hot and bubbly, 30-45 minutes. Serves 4.
Keyword do ahead, Italian casserole, orzo, stuffed zucchini, zucchini, zucchini marinara
zucchini boats on a orzo sea thepaintedapron.com

Thanks for your visit,  just change up your pasta shape and give it a fancy title and people will think you’ve spent all day in the kitchen!


I’ll be sharing at:

Love Bakes Good Cakes

Worthing Court

Posed Perfection

Stone Gable

Easy Life

5 Responses to “Take-out Tuesday, Zucchini Boats on an Orzo Sea with Pesto Spirals”
  1. I usually make stuffed peppers, but the zucchini would be more to my liking…great idea!

  2. a quiet life says:

    ooo this all works for me! love the pesto pinwheels, i never remember to make them and they look fabulous!

  3. Mary says:

    I only like zucchini in small doses but I’d consider boating with zucchini on an orzo sea! Love your creativity Jenna and your Pesto Spiral look delicious!

  4. ladygourmet says:

    Just came from the BBQ Block Party. This looks like a delicious and hearty meal…right up my alley. I know I would enjoy it immensely! Blessings, Catherine

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