by Olena

Zucchini Lasagna

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Olena Osipov
5 from 58 votes

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Healthy low carb Zucchini Lasagna with layers of zucchini instead of traditional pasta. Classic comfort food experience but guilt free at only 338 calories per huge slice!

Zucchini works great as a no noodle alternative for chicken zucchini casserole, Pad Thai zucchini noodles, or zucchini noodles with chicken, too!

Healthy zucchini lasagna in a baking dish.

Zucchini lasagna with layers of delicious garlic and herb homemade 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 from stuffed zucchini boats to zucchini fritters, I love to find ways to use this healthy ingredient.

This recipe is definitely a labor of love and requires about 40 minutes of prep but the flavorful results are 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.

Ingredients You Will Need

Ground turkey, zucchini, spinach, cheese, cottage cheese, quinoa, tomato sauce, egg, maple syrup and dried herbs.

Here are the healthier ingredients you will need for this no noodle lasagna! Find exact measurements below in the recipe card.

  • Zucchini: Zucchini is a star of this lasagna. Look for straight zucchini.
  • Ground meat: I used ground turkey as low fat poultry keeps this lasagna lean! But you can also use ground beef.
  • Soft cheese: Cottage cheese replaces ricotta cheese to keep this lasagna lower in calories. But you can use ricotta cheese which yields more authentic lasagna flavor. Just keep in mind ricotta is lower in protein and higher in fat, carbs and sugars. You can also use low fat ricotta cheese.
  • Egg: To help bind the soft cheese mixture.
  • Tomato sauce: Low sodium plain tomato sauce from a can or crushed tomatoes. Marinara sauce may be used, but omit other spices.
  • Spinach: Either a box of fresh spinach or frozen spinach that needs to be thawed.
  • Grated cheese: Freshly shredded mozzarella cheese and grated Parmesan cheese to spread on top.
  • Italian 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 is both gluten free and a wholesome ingredient.

How to Make Zucchini Lasagna

Traditional flavors and a crowd pleasing meal starts right here! It’s all about the layers for this vegetable noodle lasagna.

Slicing zucchini on mandoline while wearing cut resistant glove.

Prep zucchini lasagna noodles: Using a mandoline, boxed grater or sharp knife, slice zucchini into pasta sheets. I find the mandoline is the best way to get 1/8″ thick slices.

Sprinkle with salt and set aside. Before assembling, you will need to pat them dry with paper towels.

Sliced zucchini on baking tray sprinkled with salt.

Salt zucchini to pull out moisture: Sprinkle your long zucchini noodles with salt and set aside for 30 minutes.

Ground meat with tomato sauce and spices in skillet.

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.

Transfert to a bowl and set aside.

Wilted spinach in a skillet.

Wilt fresh spinach in batches in the same skillet. If using thawed spinach, squeeze liquid well. Transfer to a bowl and let cool.

Soft cheese mixture in a bowl.

Make soft cheese mixture: Combine ricotta cheese with egg and 1/2 tsp dried oregano.

If using the cottage, I recommend to puree with an immersion blender until smooth consistency. It makes a huge difference.

Sliced zucchini covered with paper towel to soak up moisture.

Final moisture squeeze: Pat dry your zucchini slices with paper towels as you transfer them to another dish or baking tray. Also, use your hands to squeeze as much liquid as possible from wilted zucchini.

Half assembled zucchini lasagna in baking dish.

Assemble 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 ricotta mixture, sprinkle with 1/4 of mozzarella cheese and 1/3 of spinach.

Assembled zucchini lasagna before baking.

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.

Zucchini lasagna in a baking dish.

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 reabsorb a lot of liquid.

Variations

  • Ground beef vs. ground poultry: Ground beef or pork, or combination of both will work and yield in more traditional lasagne taste. Ground turkey or ground chicken is a great low fat choice for this zucchini lasagna recipe. I make chicken lasagna roll ups all the time and they come out delicious.
  • Green zucchini vs. yellow squash: You can use either. If you have patty pan squash, slice it and layer to overlap.
  • Herbs: Italian season could be used in place of oregano and basil, I love it in Instant Pot lasagna. Chopped fresh basil would be amazing on top before serving!

How To Make Zucchini Lasagna Less Watery?

Here are my best 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 help remove water and ‘dry them’. To do so, cut them a bit thicker.

But overall, I personally think, it’s OK to have more juices at the bottom of the dish. It makes for extra delicious sauce that doesn’t make a veggie lasagna soggy like it would traditional lasagna. So I think it’s even better to have more sauce at the bottom!

More Expert Tips and FAQs

  • Mandoline slicer: While you can use a knife, box grater or mandoline to slice your zucchini noodles, I prefer the mandoline. Using a mandoline ensures even thickness. I highly recommend to wear cut resistant gloves.
  • Large garden zucchini: May need to be cut in half for ‘noodles’ and might produce extra moisture.
  • Extra moisture: Even with these tips you may find that there is extra moisture. Grab a turkey baster and quickly suction out desired amount of liquid around the edges of zucchini lasagna.
What other veggies can be used?

Lasagna is perfect for packing in the veggies! Any thinly sliced vegetables could be added as a layer. Try onions, mushrooms, or eggplant for example.

Can I make this lasagna 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.

How do you store it?

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 it?

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. If you try, please let me know in the comments!

Serving Suggestions

Once prepared, this zucchini lasagna is a complete meal so you truly don’t need much to go with it. Serve it alone or alongside garlic bread or a good toast like rye bread, ciabatta or sourdough. A simple salad like lemon kale salad would be fantastic!

More Zucchini Recipes

Check out this list of 45 healthy zucchini recipes for even more ideas!

Zucchini lasagna in baking dish topped with cheese.
Zucchini Lasagna

Zucchini Lasagna

Low Carb Zucchini Lasagna with layers of zucchini and flavorful meat sauce. Classic comfort food experience with only 338 calories per slice!
4.95 from 58 votes
Print Save Rate
Course: Casserole
Cuisine: Italian
Diet: Gluten Free
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 or ground beef
  • 1 tbsp oil for frying
  • 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 sugar, honey or maple syrup
  • 2 x 14 oz cans tomato sauce low sodium
  • 11 oz box fresh spinach or 1 package of frozen spinach, thawed & squeezed
  • 15 oz tub cottage cheese or ricotta cheese
  • 1 large egg
  • 3 tbsp quinoa uncooked
  • 8 oz mozzarella cheese shredded
  • 1/3 cup Parmesan cheese grated

Instructions

Prep zucchini slices:

  • Cut zucchini lengthwise into 1/8" thick slices. Line large baking sheet with double layer of paper towels.
  • 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.

Make meat sauce, cheese and spinach fillings:

  • In the meanwhile, preheat large skillet on medium-high heat, swirl oil to coat and add ground meat. 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.
  • Return skillet to medium heat, add spinach in batches as it starts to wilt, stirring in between. Transfer to a bowl and let cool.
  • In a medium bowl, add ricotta cheese, egg and 1/2 tsp oregano. If using cheese with large curds, puree with an immersion blender until smooth. Set aside.

Assemble lasagna:

  • Preheat oven to 375 degrees F. Now it’s finally time to assemble 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.
  • 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 ricotta cheese mixture, sprinkled with 1/4 of mozzarella 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 and all of Parmesan cheese.
  • 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.

Video

Notes

  • Store: Refrigerate in an airtight glass container for up to 5 days. I would be hesitant to freeze it as squash consists of 90% water & isn’t a good vegetable to freeze and thaw. You can try!
  • 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.
  • Slicing zucchini: You can slice zucchini using mandoline (wear cut resistant gloves) or grater with slicing blade.
 
More tips to make it less watery:
Salting, paper towels and quinoa all help with getting rid of extra moisture. Don’t worry about liquid while baking. Once it rests for about 20 minutes, you will see there will be much less liquid left.
You can also grill sliced zucchini before assembling. Just cut them a bit thicker.
But overall, I personally think, it’s OK to have more juices at the bottom of the dish. It makes for extra delicious sauce that doesn’t make a veggie lasagna soggy like it would traditional lasagna. So I think it’s even better to have more sauce at the bottom!

Nutrition

Serving: 1slice | Calories: 338kcal | Carbohydrates: 20g | Protein: 34g | Fat: 14g | Saturated Fat: 6g | Cholesterol: 87mg | Sodium: 862mg | Fiber: 4g | Sugar: 10g

Recipes and images are a copyright of ifoodreal.com. It is against the law to republish recipes without permission. Nutritional info is approximate.

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91 comments on “Zucchini Lasagna

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  1. 5 stars
    That is the SMARTEST THING EVER to blend the cottage cheese with egg and spices! I haven’t ever thought of that. I am learning and trying so many new things following your website! Thanks for feeding my 2 hungry boys (the husband and pre-teen son). I love that I’ve found you

  2. 5 stars
    What a nice format! This is my first experience on this website. There’s something for everyone here. I like it. I like the directions clearly stated and accompanying photos are a nice bonus. I’m anxious to make this lasagna. I really like the idea of adding the small amount of quinoa to help absorb extra liquid. A lot of thought and experience prepared this dish for your readers. Keep up the good work!

    1. Thank you for the kind words! Don’t be shy about leaving a rating after making the lasagna, can’t wait to hear how it goes!

  3. 5 stars
    I made the lasagna , it was pretty easy . My wife and I enjoyed it and had plenty of leftovers . I froze 1/2 for future use.

  4. 5 stars
    Delicious. My girlfriend asked me if I could make this dish for her. You should have seen the look on her face after she took her first bite. My friend saw my IG story and asked me about this dish On the same day. I sent him the recipe and he loved it as well.

  5. 5 stars
    Love love love this recipe! I’ve made your Zucchini Lasagna recipe several times – it’s that good. Low carb and very nutritious. I also want to say that I love your foodblog – it is one of the best out there, sincerely

  6. 5 stars
    This was so delicious! I didn’t have turkey so used ground beef with onion and garlic. I used the mandolin to slice a huge zucchini and salted with the paper towel layers. That got a lot of the moisture out as described. After that I grilled the zucchini on the stove top grill, and then assembled just as instructed. It was honestly one of the best lasagnas I have ever had. Taste and texture were perfect. We all had seconds! Thank you for posting this great recipe!

  7. 5 stars
    I had an overabundance of zucchini in my garden and was really glad to see this come up on my instagram. It was so good.. we ate leftovers for breakfast!!

  8. 5 stars
    I grilled the zucchini and added peppers – the reviews for the outcome were generous with their praise. I would definitely make this again. Also not as time consuming and fussy as I feared.
    Thanks Oleana!

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