lentil and walnut stuffed zucchini cups on red plate

Tasty Lentil and Walnut Stuffed Zucchini Cups

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Try this vegan stuffed zucchini appetizer for a new way to enjoy zucchini. They would be terrific for Thanksgiving or any fall or winter holiday. Savory and hot: your guests will be impressed with these tasty nibbles!

For this recipe, I was inspired by the recipe by Sarah Pflugradt MS, RDN, LDN for Middle Eastern Stuffed Zucchini Cups in the fall 2018 issue of Food and Nutrition Magazine.

However, instead of stuffing the cups with beef and rice, I wanted to use a whole foods, plant-based approach. I planned to use the inside of the zucchini, plus more vegetables, seasonings, and chopped walnuts. Red lentils cook into a creamy consistency (the more common brown lentils stay in their shape) so they took the place of eggs to help keep the ingredients together. You could use yellow lentils also. The walnuts and mushrooms with seasonings make these hearty and savory.

Ingredients Needed

  • Zucchini 
  • Red lentils
  • Cremini mushrooms 
  • Celery
  • Onions
  • Baby carrots
  • Garlic
  • Walnuts
  • Ground black pepper
  • Salt
  • Dried rosemary

How to Make Stuffed Zucchini Cups

Cut zucchini chunks with the middle scooped out
Cut zucchini chunks with the middle scooped out

Scooping the inside of the zucchini cups was fun, but a little challenging if your goal is to make them as photogenic as Food and Nutrition Magazine. I used a melon baller. I think this would be a good way to use up extra zucchini if you are swimming in it in the late summer.

Wash the lentils well and sort through them in case of any debris. I cooked the lentils and vegetables in a rice cooker. This allows the lentils to soften and partially break down. The vegetables soften as well. You can also use a pan on the stove: I prefer a rice cooker because it doesn’t have to be watched as closely.

Then, stuff the zucchini and simmer them in a skillet with enough water so they won’t burn. If you would rather bake them in the oven, cover them with foil so they don’t dry out.

Using lentils as a binder adds fiber, protein, folate, and a little iron without the fat of oil or cholesterol of eggs. You can learn more about the health benefits of lentils from lentils.org. I really like cooking lentils as compared to many legumes because they don’t have to be pre-soaked like dry beans. That is definitely a time saver!

If you don’t usually eat lentils, the yellow and red ones are great for making dal, and Indian recipes. I like to cook brown lentils in water on the stovetop or in a rice cooker as a filling for burritos or to add to pasta and spaghetti sauce to add nutrition. You may want to try using brown lentils in my Spicy Lentil Chili – Instant Pot Recipe.

Now hopefully you have made a cool, healthy appetizer. You can nibble on it for a snack, or pair it with a salad or soup and fresh whole grain bread for a nice lunch or dinner.

Whether you are having a celebration at your home or want to bring a healthy vegetarian dish to an office pot-luck or your friends’ or family’s holiday dinner, try these stuffed zucchini cups!

They will keep in the refrigerator for up to three days, or in the freezer for two months.

3 lentil and walnut stuffed zucchini cups on red plate

Lentil and Walnut Stuffed Zucchini Cups

Melissa Altman-Traub MS, RDN, LDN
Delight your guests with these vegan lentil and walnut zucchini cups stuffed with mushrooms, onions, celery, carrots, and seasonings.
5 from 1 vote
Prep Time 30 minutes
Cook Time 35 minutes
Total Time 1 hour 5 minutes
Course Appetizer, Main Course, Side Dish
Cuisine American
Servings 4
Calories 99 kcal


  • Rice cooker
  • Large skillet


  • 3 each zucchini medium, sliced in 1 1/2" pieces across
  • ¼ cup red lentils raw
  • ½ cup water
  • 6 each cremini mushrooms chopped
  • ¼ cup celery with leaves, diced
  • ½ cup onions, diced
  • 5 each baby carrots, chopped
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • ¼ cup walnuts, chopped
  • 1 dash ground black pepper
  • 1 dash salt
  • teaspoon dried rosemary, chopped


  • Scoop out the middle of each zucchini piece.
  • Chop the inside of the zucchini roughly. Place this, the vegetables, lentils, and water into a rice cooker.
  • Cook for about 15 minutes or until the lentils are soft.
  • Mix in the walnuts, salt, pepper, and rosemary. Allow mixture to cool slightly for easier handling.
  • Using a tablespoon or teaspoon, stuff the zucchini cups with the filling. Mound the filling onto the top.
  • Fill a large skillet with about a half of an inch of water. Add the filled zucchini cups.
  • Cook over low heat, covered, for about 20 minutes. The zucchini should be soft.


The nutrition estimate is from Sponacular, which is based mainly on the USDA nutrient database.


Calories: 99kcalCarbohydrates: 10gProtein: 4gFat: 5gSaturated Fat: 0.5gPolyunsaturated Fat: 4gMonounsaturated Fat: 1gSodium: 19mgPotassium: 200mgFiber: 4gSugar: 1gVitamin A: 209IUVitamin C: 3mgCalcium: 24mgIron: 1mg
Keyword Lentils, Vegan, Zucchini
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Here are more vegan appetizers you may enjoy:

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