by Olena

Zucchini Lasagna

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Olena Osipov
4.9 from 39 votes

Zucchini Lasagna made low carb with layers of zucchini instead of pasta lasagna, flavorful healthier meat sauce and gooey cheese. Classic comfort food experience at only 318 calories per huge slice.

This zucchini lasagna recipe is guilt-free comfort food with the traditional flavor and rich texture of classic Italian lasagna. You could also use zucchini as a noodle alternative, for this chicken and zucchini casserole or Pad Thai zucchini noodles or zucchini noodles with chicken!

Zucchini lasagna in a baking dish

Zucchini lasagna with layers of delicious garlic and herb meat sauce, low carb zucchini noodles and melted cheesy goodness on top. It is so good even zucchini-hating kids loved it!

Then again, in this house, there’s no way to avoid zucchini; with grilled zucchini pizzas, stuffed zucchini boats, and baked zucchini fritters – I love to find ways to use this healthy ingredient. For those days when they’re just not in the mood for savory, I’m known for hiding it into baked goods like zucchini banana bread, or lemon zucchini muffins.

Zucchini lasagna recipe is definitely a labour of love and requires about 40 minutes of prep but the result is totally worth it. Once you make it a few times, things will go even faster. Pour yourself a glass of wine, crank up Frank Sinatra and enjoy the process. I can’t wait to make this zucchini noodle lasagna again, it is that good!

Why This Recipe Works?

  • Healthy ingredients like zucchini instead of pasta, cottage cheese in place of ricotta and low fat poultry, make each giant slice of comfort food run at only 318 calories.
  • Traditional flavors of meat sauce and cheese are all there. So, no lack of flavor.
  • Low carb lasagne with only 20 grams compared to 60 grams of carbs in same size of traditional lasagna.
  • Crowd pleasing meal – kids will eat it!
  • Non-watery with one secret ingredient and extra tips how to fix it, if it happens.

Ingredients for Zucchini Lasagna

  • Zucchini: Zucchini is a star of this lasagna. Look for straight zucchini.
  • Ground meat: I use ground turkey.
  • Soft cheese: I use cottage cheese to keep this zucchini lasagna recipe healthier but ricotta will work as well.
  • Egg: To help bind soft cheese mixture.
  • Tomato sauce: Low sodium plain tomato sauce from a can.
  • Spinach: Either a box of fresh spinach or frozen spinach that needs to be thawed.

This zucchini lasagna recipe is perfect to use up an older box of spinach that starts to wilt. If I see organic baby spinach on sale, I buy and freeze it. Then use to make this lasagne, green smoothie or lentil soup.

  • Shredded/grated cheese: Mozzarella cheese and Parmesan cheese to spread on top.

I recommend to shred/grate cheese yourself as it doesn’t contain preservatives and melts better.

  • Spices: Dried oregano, dried basil, garlic powder, salt and pepper.
  • Quinoa: Dry and uncooked quinoa absorbs a lot of moisture during baking, without adding many carbs and being gluten-free and wholesome ingredient.

You can omit quinoa but then I recommend to grill and pat dry zucchini with paper towels well.

ingredients zucchini lasagna

How to Make Zucchini Lasagna

  • Prep zucchini lasagna noodles: Using a mandoline, boxed grater or sharp knife, cut lasagna into noodle sheets. Sprinkle with salt and set aside. Before assembling zucchini lasagna you will have to pat dry them with paper towels.

If it is large store-bought or huge garden zucchini just cut it in half and then slice.

  • Make meat sauce: Cook ground meat for 5 minutes, constantly breaking into small pieces and stirring. Then we add dried oregano, basil, garlic powder, salt and pepper to cook for 30 seconds. Add tomato sauce and maple syrup to offset the acid in tomatoes.

Frying dried herbs makes them more fragrant.

  • Wilt fresh spinach in batches in the same skillet. If using thawed spinach, squeeze liquid well.
  • Make soft cheese mixture: Combine ricotta cheese or cottage cheese with egg and spices, so it adds flavor and holds better.

I puree cottage cheese with a stick blender to resemble more of a traditional ricotta cheese texture.

  • Assemble lasagna:
    • The key is to have all ingredients ready. In 9″ x 13″ baking dish, add a few tablespoons of tomato meat sauce, spread with a spoon and sprinkle with quinoa.
    • Place sliced zucchini overlapping a bit to create a single layer. Don’t forget to pat dry zucchini slices with paper towel. Spread 1/3 of tomato meat sauce, then 1/3 of cottage cheese, sprinkled with 1/4 of mozzarella cheese and 1/3 of spinach.
    • Repeat until you run out of ingredients finishing with a layer of zucchini, topped with a bit of meat sauce, then sprinkled with remaining mozzarella cheese and all of Parmesan cheese.
  • Bake lasagna for about 50 minutes at 375 degrees F covered with aluminum foil or silicone lid for first 30 minutes, then uncover and bake for another 20 minutes.
  • Let stand for 20 minutes before slicing. This step is super important as flavors will settle, “marry” each other and the whole dish will re-absorb a lot of liquid.

Substitutions and Variations

  • Cottage cheese vs. ricotta cheese: You can use either. Just keep in mind ricotta is lower in protein and higher in fat, carbs and sugars. You can also use low fat ricotta cheese. I prefer cottage cheese which I puree for smoother consistency and it makes a huge difference.
  • Ground beef vs. ground poultry: Ground beef or pork, or combination of both will work and yield in more traditional lasagne taste. Ground chicken is great choice for zucchini lasagna with meat and yet low fat. I make chicken lasagna roll ups all the time.
  • Green zucchini vs. yellow zucchini/squash: You can use either. If you have patty pan squash, slice it and layer to overlap.

Top Tips for Non-Watery Lasagna

How to make zucchini lasagna not watery? Here are 4 tips to make zucchini noodles less watery:

  • Salt. Place sliced zucchini in a single layer and sprinkle with salt, repeating with remaining zucchini. Set aside for 30 minutes. Salt will pull away moisture from zucchini making less watery casserole.
  • Paper towels. Line large baking sheet with double layer of paper towels. Right before assembly, we pat dry each zucchini layer with paper towels transferring to another dish. You want to absorb moisture between each zucchini layer as much as possible.
  • Quinoa sprinkled on the bottom of the pan will help absorb extra liquid during cooking. Don’t worry about liquid while baking. Once squash lasagna rests for about 20 minutes you will see there will be much less liquid left.
  • Grill. You can grill sliced zucchini before assembling. To do so, cut them a bit thicker.

FAQs

Is zucchini lasagna healthy?

Zucchini noodle lasagna is loaded with vegetables, squash and spinach, that are high in fiber, vitamins and nutrients. Not to mention low carb compared to traditional lasagne noodles like wheat or gluten free ones. Not that regular lasagne can’t be healthy, it sure can. Then combined with lean ground turkey, low sodium tomato sauce and layers of cottage cheese, you got yourself pretty wholesome dish.

Is zucchini lasagna gluten free?

Yes. Zucchini is a vegetable that is gluten free. All ingredients in this zucchini lasagna recipe are naturally gluten free as well.

How to cut zucchini lasagna noodles?


Using a mandoline. It is my favorite method because zucchini “noodles” will come out even thickness. I highly recommend to wear cut resistant gloves.

On a box grater. A typical box grater like this one has a slicing blade. It is not as sharp but can be used.

Slice with sharp knife. A sharp utility knife will be the best as it is smaller than a chef’s knife. The key is a sharp knife and time. 🙂

How to fix watery zucchini lasagna?

“Extra watery” lasagna can happen with extra watery garden zucchini or your personal preference. In any case, grab a turkey baster and quickly suction out desired amount of liquid around the edges of zucchini lasagna. Save this delicious sauce to add to tomato soup, borscht or minestrone, for example.

What to Serve It With?

Once prepared, serve the zucchini lasagna alone or alongside garlic bread and your favorite salad. I love to serve mine with a simple tomato and cucumber salad, lemon kale salad, and other green salad.

Leftover zucchini lasagna can be refrigerated for up to 5 days. It is already baked, settled and lost all its extra moisture. Just place in an airtight container and refrigerate.

Can You Freeze Zucchini Lasagna?

To be honest, I have not tried freezing zucchini lasagna. Zucchini consists of 90% water, so it is not a good vegetable to freeze and thaw. My gut tells me it is not a good idea to freeze zucchini lasagna. But if you would like to try, I recommend to grill zucchini first before assembling. Then allow baking dish to come to room temperature for 30 minutes before baking from frozen (might have to add extra 20 minutes to bake time). Please let me know if you try.

Can You Make It Ahead of Time?

To make ahead, assemble and refrigerate tightly covered with plastic for up to 24 hours. Before baking you can remove extra water accumulated at the bottom of the dish with a turkey baster. Let ceramic or glass dish warm up on the counter for about 15 minutes before baking.

More Zucchini Recipes

Check out this list of 45 zucchini recipes – for more healthy dinner ideas for zucchini season.

zucchini lasagna
Zucchini Lasagna

Foolproof Zucchini Lasagna

Zucchini Lasagna made low carb with layers of zucchini instead of pasta, flavorful healthier meat sauce and gooey cheese. This zucchini lasagna recipe is guilt-free comfort food with the traditional flavor and rich texture of classic Italian lasagna and only 318 calories per huge slice.
4.93 from 39 votes
Print Save Rate
Course: Casserole
Cuisine: Italian
Prep Time: 40 minutes
Cook Time: 50 minutes
Total Time: 1 hour 30 minutes
Servings: 8 servings
Calories: 338kcal
Author: Olena Osipov

Ingredients

  • 5 medium zucchini cut lengthwise into 1/8" thick slices
  • 1 lb ground turkey
  • 1 tbsp avocado il
  • 1 1/2 tsp dried oregano divided
  • 1 tsp dried basil
  • 1 tsp garlic powder
  • 1/2 tsp salt + more for zucchini
  • Ground black pepper to taste
  • 1 tbsp honey or maple syrup
  • 2 x 14 oz cans tomato sauce low sodium
  • 11 oz box fresh spinach
  • 17 oz tub cottage cheese
  • 1 egg large
  • 3 tbsp quinoa uncooked
  • 8 oz mozzarella cheese shredded
  • 1/3 cup Parmesan cheese grated

Instructions

  • Cut zucchini lengthwise into 1/8" thick slices. Line large baking sheet with double layer of paper towels.
    Zucchini Lasagna
  • Place sliced zucchini in a single layer and sprinkle with salt, repeating with remaining zucchini. Set aside for 30 minutes. Salt will pull away moisture from zucchini making less watery zucchini lasagna.
    Zucchini Lasagna
  • In the meanwhile, preheat large skillet on medium-high heat, swirl oil to coat and add turkey. Cook for 5 minutes, constantly breaking into small pieces and stirring.
  • Add 1 tsp oregano, basil, garlic powder, salt and pepper; cook for 30 seconds, stirring.
  • Add tomato sauce and maple syrup; stir, bring to a boil and simmer on low for 5 minutes. Transfer to a medium bowl and set aside.
    Zucchini Lasagna
  • Return skillet to medium heat, add spinach in batches as it starts to wilt, stirring in between. Transfer to a bowl and let cool.
    Zucchini Lasagna
  • In a medium bowl, add cottage cheese, egg and 1/2 tsp oregano. Puree with an immersion blender until smooth. Set aside.
    Zucchini Lasagna
  • Pat dry each zucchini layer with paper towels transferring to another dish. You want to absorb moisture between each zucchini layer as much as possible. Using your hands squeeze as much liquid as possible from spinach and set side.
    Zucchini Lasagna
  • Preheat oven to 375 degrees F. Now it’s finally time to assemble zucchini lasagna.
    Zucchini Lasagna
  • In 9" x 13" baking dish, add a few tablespoons of tomato meat sauce, spread with a spoon and sprinkle with quinoa. Place sliced zucchini overlapping a bit to create a single layer. Spread 1/3 of tomato meat sauce, then 1/3 of cottage cheese, sprinkled with 1/4 of mozzarella and 1/3 of spinach.
    Zucchini Lasagna
  • Repeat until you run out of ingredients finishing with a layer of zucchini, topped with a bit of meat sauce, then sprinkled with remaining mozzarella and all of Parmesan cheese.
    Zucchini Lasagna
  • Bake covered with aluminum foil or silicone lid for 30 minutes, then uncover and bake for another 20 minutes. Let stand for 20 minutes before slicing. Cut into 8 slices and serve hot.
    Zucchini Lasagna

Store: Refrigerate in an airtight glass container for up to 5 days.

    Make Ahead: To make ahead, assemble and refrigerate tightly covered with plastic for up to 24 hours. Before baking you can remove extra water accumulated at the bottom of the dish with a turkey baster. Let ceramic or glass dish warm up on the counter for about 15 minutes before baking.

      Freeze? To be honest, I have not tried freezing zucchini lasagna. Zucchini consists of 90% water, so it is not a good vegetable to freeze and thaw. My gut tells me it is not a good idea to freeze zucchini lasagna. But if you would like to try, I recommend to grill zucchini first before assembling. Then allow baking dish to come to room temperature for 30 minutes before baking from frozen (might have to add extra 20 minutes to bake time).

        Video

        Notes

        • Cottage cheese vs. ricotta cheese: You can use either. Just keep in mind ricotta is lower in protein and higher in fat, carbs and sugars. You can also use low fat ricotta cheese. I prefer cottage cheese which I puree for smoother consistency and it makes a huge difference.
        • Ground beef vs. ground poultry: Ground beef or pork, or combination of both will work and yield in more traditional lasagne taste. Ground chicken is great choice for zucchini lasagna with meat and yet low fat.
        • Green zucchini vs. yellow zucchini/squash: You can use either. If you have patty pan squash, slice it and layer to overlap.
        • Slicing zucchini: You can slice zucchini using mandoline or grater with slicing blade.
        • Sodium: If using not low sodium tomato sauce, reduce salt.
        • Use 1  package of frozen spinach but thaw and squeeze well.
        • Quinoa is for absorbing extra liquid. You can omit quinoa but then I recommend to grill and pat dry zucchini with paper towels well.
        Recipe Post updated June 2021. See it for more Tips and FAQs.

        Nutrition

        Serving: 1slice | Calories: 338kcal | Carbohydrates: 20g | Protein: 34g | Fat: 14g | Saturated Fat: 6g | Cholesterol: 87mg | Sodium: 862mg | Potassium: 838mg | Fiber: 4g | Sugar: 10g | Vitamin A: 4253IU | Vitamin C: 33mg | Calcium: 317mg | Iron: 3mg
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        olena osipov in the studio

        Hello and welcome to iFOODreal.

        My name is Olena Osipov. I'm a mom to 2 boys, a wife to Alex and we reside on magical Vancouver Island in British Columbia, Canada. This is our healthy family recipes blog. Originally from Ukraine, I grew up on real food. As an adult, I struggled with diets for years because none worked long-term. Now for over 10 years, I cook easy healthy meals for my family. I can help you with “What’s for dinner?” too.

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