Carb-lover and staunch believer in all things in moderation, I was highly skeptical about no-noodle lasagna. Thus, it is without exaggeration that I tell you, this pasta-free Zucchini Lasagna is positively fantastic!
In fact, I served it to our neighbors and casually didn’t mention that this recipe uses thinly sliced zucchini squash in place of the lasagna pasta noodles.
No one knew.
Mild zucchini is a surprisingly good pasta stand-in when paired with robust sauces, like the hearty Bolognese-ish sauce you’ll find in this zucchini lasagna with meat, the fresh tomato sauce in Zucchini Pasta, and the garlic in this Healthy Shrimp Scampi with Zucchini Noodles.
The biggest struggle with making zucchini lasagna is to keep it from becoming watery.
Fortunately, I have accumulated a lot of knowledge in this area, courtesy of other zucchini carb-swap recipes I’ve developed, like Zucchini Ravioli and Zucchini Enchiladas.
The same method works for zucchini lasagna!
Keep Your Zucchini Lasagna from Getting Soggy
Zucchini has a high water content.
In order to keep the zucchini lasagna from becoming watery, you must draw out the water by broiling or grilling the zucchini first.
- Broil method: place the zucchini slices under the broiler for 5 to 8 minutes, until browned.
- Grill method: grill the zucchini slices for 2 to 3 minutes per side.
Both methods work well, so choose which is most convenient.
You can also experiment with drawing water out of the zucchini by salting the slices, letting them sit for 10 minutes, then patting them dry, instead of broiling or grilling it, though I found the results were mixed.
For no-sog guaranteed, broiling or grilling the zucchini noodles prior to layering is the best method.
A Light But SATISFYING Recipe
To be clear—I love classic lasagna (I do have a pulse)—but it feels heavy during the summer months.
When it comes to keeping dinner on the lighter side while making sure it is plenty satisfying, this low carb zucchini lasagna is the move!
How to Make Zucchini Lasagna
To make zucchini lasagna, you’ll prepare and layer three main components:
- A hearty tomato meat sauce. I use jarred pasta sauce to keep this fast and easy.
- A creamy, cheesy layer. While less traditional, I use cottage cheese in place of ricotta in lasagna. Cottage cheese healthy and high in protein (feel free to use ricotta if you prefer).
- Zucchini noodles. A mandoline is the best way to make sure they are nice and thin.
And of course, we’ll be adding some gooey cheese for good measure.
- Zucchini. Swapping pasta noodles for sliced and cooked zucchini is a simple way to significantly lower the carbs and calories in this classic comfort food.
- Ground Beef. Packed with protein and iron, ground beef makes the lasagna heartier and adds a delicious meaty flavor.
- Marinara. I opted to use jarred marinara-style pasta sauce to help make this recipe quick and easy. Choose any sauce you enjoy.
- Cottage Cheese. Helps create the creamy, cheesy layer and adds richness. Low-fat cottage cheese is a healthy choice, as it’s lower in fat and calories and is high in protein.
- Frozen Spinach. Using frozen, pre-chopped spinach in the cheese layer is an easy way to squeeze in extra veggies.
- Parmesan. This lasagna would not be complete without the addition of salty, crowd-pleasing Parmesan cheese.
- Egg. Helps bind the lasagna layers together and makes the cheese layer extra creamy.
- Mozzarella. A melty, dreamy mozzarella cheese lid is a hallmark of any good lasagna.
- Fresh Basil. A finishing touch of fresh basil perfectly complements the flavors in the lasagna.
- Trim and slice the zucchini. Cook with oil, salt, and pepper on the grill or under the broiler. Pat dry.
- Cook the beef with salt and oregano. Stir in the garlic.
- Stir in the sauce.
- Add the cottage cheese, Parmesan, egg, salt, pepper, and spinach to a bowl.
- Stir until combined.
- In a casserole dish coated with nonstick spray, spread half of the sauce on the bottom. Top the sauce with half of the zucchini.
- Add all of the cheese mixture.
- Add another layer of zucchini and sauce on top.
- Finish with the mozzarella and Parmesan. Bake zucchini lasagna at 350 degrees F for 20 minutes. Top the lasagna with fresh basil. Let rest, then DIG IN!
You may notice that this zucchini lasagna has fewer layers compared to traditional lasagnas. This is because as you pile on the zucchini, you increase the likelihood of the zucchini lasagna being watery. Two layers will give you cheesy, saucy lasagna that isn’t soggy or watery.
- To Store. Refrigerate lasagna in an airtight container for up to 4 days.
- To Reheat. Rewarm leftovers in a baking dish in the oven at 350 degrees F or in the microwave.
Meal Prep Tip
Up to 1 day in advance, trim and slice the zucchini as directed. Prepare the meat sauce layer and the cottage cheese layer. Refrigerate separately until you’re ready to layer the lasagna.
Recommended Tools to Make this Recipe
The Best Casserole Dish
This beautiful, high-quality casserole dish is a worthwhile investment piece. It’s dishwasher safe too!
Zucchini lasagna is just what tonight’s dinner (and your zucchini supply) ordered.
I hope you love it just as much as we do!
Frequently Asked Questions
If you have fresh spinach on hand that you’d like to use instead, you can swap it here. Saute it on the stove first to draw out the extra moisture, then add to the recipe as directed.
Yes, you can swap the zucchini for summer squash if that’s what you have on hand. Or, use a mix.
Unfortunately, I do not recommend freezing this recipe, as the zucchini will become very watery and mushy once thawed.
- 3 medium/large zucchini about 2 pounds
- 3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil divided
- 1 1/2 teaspoons kosher salt divided
- 1/2 teaspoon black pepper divided
- 1 pound lean ground beef or ground bison
- 1/2 teaspoon dried oregano
- 3 cloves garlic minced
- 1 (24-ounce) can prepared marinara-style pasta sauce (I like DeLallo or Rao’s)
- 1 (16-ounce) container low-fat cottage cheese or part skim ricotta cheese
- 1 (10-ounce) package frozen chopped spinach thawed with excess water squeezed out
- 1/2 cup finely grated Parmesan divided
- 1 large egg
- 1 cup shredded part-skim mozzarella cheese or a blend of mozzarella and provolone
- 1/4 cup thinly sliced fresh basil
Cook the zucchini: Trim off the ends of the zucchini (no need to peel). Slice lengthwise into 1/4-inch-thick planks (a mandolin is the best way to do this). You should have about 6 to 8 slices per zucchini. Place on a rimmed baking sheet and drizzle with 2 tablespoons of the oil, 1/2 teaspoon salt, and 1/4 teaspoon pepper. Toss to coat the slices evenly.
GRILL METHOD: Preheat an outdoor grill or indoor grill pan to medium. Lightly coat the grill with canola oil, then grill the zucchini until cooked and lightly brown, about 2 to 3 minutes per side. BROIL METHOD: Place the top oven rack about 5 inches from the upper heat element. Set the oven to broil. Divide the zucchini between two baking sheets, laying the slices in a single layer so they are not touching. (Do not line the baking sheet pans with parchment, as the paper will burn.) Broil the first sheet pan for 5 to 8 minutes, or until the zucchini slices are lightly browned. Repeat with the second sheet pan. Once the zucchini is broiled or grilled, let cool slightly, then gently pat dry to remove excess moisture. Turn the oven to 350 degrees F.
In a large skillet heat the remaining 1 tablespoon oil over medium-high heat. Add the beef, 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt, and oregano. Cook, breaking apart the meat, until it is browned and cooked through, about 5 to 7 minutes. Stir in the garlic and let cook 30 seconds.
Remove the pan from the heat. Add the pasta sauce and stir to combine.
In a large bowl, combine the cottage cheese, 1/4 cup Parmesan, egg, and remaining 1/2 teaspoon salt and 1/4 teaspoon pepper, mixing well.
Stir in the spinach, using a fork to break it up and distribute it as evenly with the cottage cheese mixture as possible.
Coat a 9×13-inch casserole dish with nonstick spray. Spread half of the sauce onto the bottom of the dish in an even layer. Arrange half of the zucchini slices over the top, overlapping them slightly as needed.
Top the zucchini slices with all of the cheese mixture.
Top with the remaining zucchini, then the remaining sauce.
Sprinkle evenly with the mozzarella and remaining 1/4 cup Parmesan. Bake the zucchini lasagna for 20 minutes, until the cheese is melted and the lasagna is hot and bubbly. Remove from the oven and sprinkle with fresh basil. Let rest 5 to 10 minutes, then serve.
- TO STORE: Refrigerate lasagna in an airtight storage container for up to 4 days.
- TO REHEAT: Rewarm leftovers in a baking dish in the oven at 350 degrees F or in the microwave.
Serving: 1(of 6)Calories: 401kcalCarbohydrates: 15gProtein: 37gFat: 22gSaturated Fat: 8gPolyunsaturated Fat: 2gMonounsaturated Fat: 10gTrans Fat: 0.5gCholesterol: 97mgPotassium: 1111mgFiber: 4gSugar: 9gVitamin A: 6510IUVitamin C: 29mgCalcium: 405mgIron: 5mg
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