Beef Casserole Main Dishes Recipes

Last updated on June 2nd, 2024 at 03:22 pm

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Best Zucchini Lasagna [Video]

If you are craving comfort food like pasta with sauce and melted cheese, this zucchini lasagna is for you. With this recipe, you swap the lasagna noodles for zucchini strips, making it incredibly flavorful, healthier, and gluten-free. It is also packed with four kinds of cheese, including ricotta, parmesan, pepper jack, and mozzarella. To top it off, the meaty sauce makes this a hearty and delicious meal.

This Zucchini Lasagna is a great way to incorporate more veggies into your daily menu. The flavors are similar to the classic lasagna but much healthier. It’s loaded with layers of thinly sliced zucchini, lots of cheese and baked to golden brown perfection!

You have to call it the best lasagna recipe because it is easy to prepare, done in under one hour, and is much healthier than traditional lasagna with more flavor. You just cannot beat those plusses. Toss some extra cheese on top, and the kids will not even know they are eating vegetables unless you tell them. Also, it is versatile, so you can change the meat, cheeses, and vegetables.

This is a great dish for a potluck dinner because it can feed so many people, and it does not matter whether they are on a low-carb, keto, or gluten-free diet. It is so delicious, though, that they may not believe that it does not have pasta in it. And the leftovers can be saved for several days in the fridge or months in the freezer! Try it with my roasted cauliflower for a tasty and healthy side dish.

I am a huge zucchini lover and I have tried and incorporated it in so many recipes, these zucchini roll-ups. are a staple in our household, and this blueberry zucchini poke cake is incredible.

Why you’ll love this recipe

  • It is easy to prepare: Like regular lasagna, there are several steps, but it only takes a few minutes to prepare.
  • Everyone loves it: The flavor is incredible; I think it is even better than traditional lasagna.
  • You can make it your own: Use your favorite toppings and veggies to make it a unique dish.
  • Nobody knows it is healthy: Unless you tell everyone, they probably will not even know it is not pasta.

What you’ll need to make this zucchini lasagna

Special items:

  • Skillet – A large skillet or pan for cooking the beef.
  • Grilling pan – If you want to grill your zucchini first.
  • Wooden spoon – For stirring without damaging pots and pans.
  • Casserole dish – I recommend a 9×13-inch casserole dish.
  • Aluminum foil – To cover the dish.

The ingredients for zucchini lasagna

Here is what you will need to make this delicious dish.

For the zucchini layer and beef mixture:

  • Zucchini – For this recipe, I use five or six medium zucchini, sliced into long strips about 1/8 inch thick.
  • Ground beef – To reduce the grease, use lean ground beef, such as 80/20 or 85/15.
  • Olive oil – I prefer extra virgin olive oil for the mildest flavor and lightness.
  • Onion – One medium onion of your choice, diced into small chunks.
  • Garlic – For the best flavor, use freshly minced garlic cloves.
  • Tomato paste – Any kind will work but I like the thick and hearty kind with basil and garlic.
  • Crushed tomatoes – Similarly, you can use whatever brand you like or crush your own.
  • Spinach – I use fresh spinach for this recipe for the best taste.

Cheese mixture:

  • Ricotta – Make sure you drain it before adding it to the ingredients.
  • Mozzarella – It is important to shred your own from fresh mozzarella because the pre-shredded stuff has additives and a wax coating.
  • Pepper jack – Smooth and a bit spicy, this cheese adds another level of flavor.
  • Parmesan – Do not use the stuff in the can. Shred your parmesan.
  • Egg – One large beaten egg at room temperature.
  • Italian seasoning – For the freshest taste, make your own using my easy recipe for Italian seasoning.
  • Dried basil – This additional helping will provide a sweet and earthy flavor.
  • Red pepper flakes – To add just a hint of spiciness.
  • Salt – Kosher salt has the cleanest taste and no additives.
  • Pepper – Grind your pepper for the most incredible flavor.

For the topping:

  • Marinara sauce – Try my savory marinara sauce or buy it from the store.
  • Mozzarella cheese – As stated before, shredding your cheese is much better without the waxy additives.

Ingredients needed:

For exact measures, please check out the recipe card below. Basically, you will need the following ingredients:

  • Fresh zucchini: To make the zucchini strips, simply use a sharp knife and cut it into thick slices about 1/8 -inch thick. 
  • Ricotta mixture: Basically a mixture of parmesan cheese, mozzarella cheese, ricotta cheese with dried basil, Italian seasoning, salt, and black pepper. I also like adding some red pepper flakes. 
  • Beef mixture: The meat sauce is made with ground beef, onion, garlic, tomato paste, crushed tomatoes, and fresh spinach. 
  • Marinara sauce: I use 1 cup of marinara sauce. I highly recommend, making your own sauce. My homemade marina sauce is just amazing here, and the flavors are outstanding! 

How to make zucchini lasagna?

  1. Slice the zucchini: Place them on a cutting board, and slice them lengthwise. Use paper towels to remove any excess moisture. 
  2. Make the cheese mixture: In a large bowl, mix the cheese mixture together, and set aside. 
  3. Make the bolognese sauce: In a large skillet, add minced garlic, onion, and brown the beef over medium-high heat. Then, add the tomato sauce, seasoning, and fresh spinach. 
  4. Assemble the casserole: Grease the casserole dish or a baking sheet with some olive oil. Then, spread out the cheese mixture at the bottom of the dish, and top it with the zucchini layer. Next, add more of the ricotta layer, along with the beef mixture, and cover with another single layer of veggies. Repeat these layers one more time! Then, pour the marinara sauce on top, and sprinkle with grated mozzarella cheese. 
  5. Bake: Put the casserole in the preheated oven and bake it at 375 degrees F for about 30 minutes covered in aluminum foil. Then, uncover, and cook for an additional 30 minutes, until golden brown. 
  6. Serve: Sprinkle some freshly chopped parsley, and enjoy warm!

Expert tip

How to get rid of excess water from zucchini

One thing about zucchini is that it is 95% water. That makes it an issue when using it for a dish like this. The last thing you want when making lasagna is to have excess water in it. This recipe calls for grilling it in the oven or on the grill. Either way is good, but it does take some time and extra cooking. Once done, you need to place it on paper towels to dry. Then, pat the top with more paper towels to get any leftover moisture.

Another way to do it that is even easier is to place it on a layer of paper towels and cover it with salt. Flip it over and cover the other side, too. Then, let the salt draw out the moisture for 15 minutes. After, wipe the salt away and it is ready to go. Do not rinse it off. That will create more moisture. Of course, if you have a dehydrator, that would be even better, but it takes a while, so do it the night before.

If you want to dehydrate your zucchini strips without a dehydrator, set your oven on its lowest setting (usually around 140 to 150 degrees F). Then, place the zucchini on baking sheets and open the oven door slightly to let the moisture escape. Depending on their thickness, it will take about eight to ten hours.

Variations and substitutions:

The beauty of this delicious lasagna is that you can modify it any way you like. Here are some great things to add to it:

  • Vegetables: Feel free to swap the zucchini with thinly sliced eggplants or summer squash. 
  • Add-ins: Alternatively, mix in other vegetables such as mushrooms, sweet potatoes, artichoke hearts, etc.
  • Meat: Substitute ground beef with ground turkey, Italian sausage, grilled chicken, or rotisserie chicken. 
  • Cheese: In addition, feel free to use your favorite type. Anything from cottage cheese to gruyere cheese can be used. 
  • Sauce: Swap the hearty meat sauce with homemade alfredo sauce
  • Taco zucchini lasagna: Use taco seasoning instead of Italian seasoning, and add salsa to instead of tomato sauce.
  • Spice it up: To make this dish spicy, add cayenne pepper to your cheese mixture and a bit of sriracha sauce to your marinara.

Serving suggestions:

Try some of these awesome serving ideas for your zucchini lasagna.

  • You have to have some bread or rolls to soak up that extra sauce or your guests will use their fingers. Try my 30-minute dinner rolls made with milk and butter.
  • Why not serve roasted or grilled vegetables like carrots, mushrooms, and broccoli for a hearty side dish?
  • Any soup would be an excellent side dish. Maybe Italian wedding soup or butternut squash soup.
  • A salad also makes a great accompaniment to lasagna. My Italian chopped salad, made with black olives, bell peppers, pine nuts, sunflower seeds, and mozzarella, is perfect.
  • Sticking with the Italian theme, you could serve Italian butter cookies or strawberry tiramisu for dessert.

Frequently asked questions

How do I keep the foil from sticking to the cheese?

The most common and easiest way is to spray your aluminum foil with non-stick baking spray or olive oil. Then, place it with the sprayed side down on top, trying to keep it from touching the cheese as much as possible. You can also place some toothpicks sticking out of the top of your lasagna. About 10 to 15 toothpicks sticking up about four inches should do it.

What is the difference between Italian and American lasagna?

Although I feel that any homemade lasagna is good lasagna, there are some differences between how Americans and Italians make it. American lasagna typically uses marinara or pasta sauce, while the Italian dish is made with Bolognese ragu and bechamel, made with roux and nutmeg. Also, the Americans tend to use ricotta or cottage cheese, while the Italian version is made with mascarpone.

Why is my ricotta cheese watery?

Ricotta cheese is made with excess moisture, sometimes at the top of the cheese. When you use it, it makes your cheese mixture too watery. The best way to take care of this is to pour the ricotta into a fine mesh strainer and push on it with a ladle or your hands. Then, pat the ricotta dry with a paper towel to remove any leftover moisture. If you have already added it to your cheese mixture, try stirring a cornstarch slurry.

What other veggies can I use for lasagna sheets?

While zucchini is always my first choice, sometimes I cannot find any fresh ones in my area, and I am sure you have that problem, too. Eggplant is another excellent choice because it is long and wide, perfect for making large strips. However, like zucchini, eggplant is also mostly water, so you must cook or salt it first. Cabbage leaves can also be cut into strips; you do not have to worry about making them thin because they already are.

How to cut and prepare the zucchini for lasagna?

  • You should slice the zucchini in 1/8-inch slices. You have a few options here. First, you either use a mandoline cutter or vegetable sheet cutter, or vegetable peeler. Or, simply use a sharp knife and carefully cut it lengthwise on a cutting board. 
  • Also, remember that these veggies are quite watery. Therefore, it is best to grill or roast them first prior to assembly. Using a grill pan is a great option. Grilling it on both ends will ensure that most moisture will get removed.
  • After grilling, you should put the zucchini slices on a paper towel to remove as much moisture as possible before you start using it to build your lasagna. If you skip this step, your lasagna will be a bit watery, but it will still taste good.

How do you roast zucchini for lasagna?

  1. First, slice the zucchini into about 1/8-inch slices, then splash with some olive oil, salt, and pepper.
  2. Then, arrange them uniformly in a large baking pan, and put them in the oven at 425 degrees F.
  3. Roast for about 12-14 minutes, or until tender.

How to store leftovers:

  • Refrigerate: Leftover zucchini lasagna can be stored in an airtight container for four days.   
  • Freezing: Alternatively, you could put it in a freezer-safe container for up to three months.
  • Defrost: Thaw frozen leftovers in the fridge overnight before serving.
  • Reheating: Reheat your lasagna in an oven heated to 350 degrees F for 10 to 15 minutes.   

More zucchini recipes:

Recipe tips:

  • Ensure the foil is not touching the cheese when you cover it, or it will stick.
  • Another critical step is to cook or salt the zucchini strips before using them. Or you can do both.
  • Try to make all the strips the same thickness so they cook evenly.
  • Using a mandoline is the easiest way to cut thin zucchini strips for noodles.
  • Drain the excess water from your ricotta before adding it to the cheese mixture.
  • Feel free to make the lasagna ahead of time and refrigerate. When ready to serve, simply pop it in the oven and serve warm. 

Zucchini Lasagna

If you are craving comfort food like pasta with sauce and melted cheese, this zucchini lasagna is for you. With this recipe, you swap the lasagna noodles for zucchini strips, making it incredibly flavorful, healthier, and gluten-free.

  • Prep Time30 MIN
  • Cook Time1H
  • Servings 12 servings

Ingredients

  • 5-6 medium zucchini sliced into 1/8 inch thick long slices

Beef Mixture:

  • 1 lb ground beef
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 medium onion diced
  • 4 cloves garlic minced
  • 2 tablespoons tomato paste
  • 1 28oz can crushed tomatoes
  • 2 cups spinach fresh

Cheese Mixture:

  • 1 tablespoon dried basil
  • 1 teaspoon Italian seasoning
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt or to taste
  • 1/4 teaspoon black pepper or to taste
  • 1/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes
  • 1 large egg
  • 15 oz ricotta
  • 1/2 cup Parmesan grated
  • 8 oz mozzarella cheese (about 2 cups) shredded
  • 8 oz Pepper Jack cheese (about 2 cups) shredded

Topping:

  • 1 cup Mozzarella cheese shredded
  • 1 cup marinara sauce

Instructions

Cooking the Zucchini:

  • If you have time, it is best to pre-cook the zucchini to remove the moisture before using them in the lasagna.
  • Brush the zucchini slices with olive oil. Either grill them (a grilling pan works, too) or arrange them on a lightly greased baking sheet and bake them in the oven at 425F for 12-14 minutes.
  • Once cooked, place on paper towels to remove any remaining moisture.

Cooking the Beef Mixture:

  • Place a large skillet over medium-high heat and add oil. Once the oil is hot, add the onion and garlic, stirring with a wooden spoon, and cook for one minute. Push the onion to one side of the pan and add the beef.
  • Let the beef brown a bit and start breaking it with the wooded spoon. Combine with the onion and garlic and cook until no longer pink. Drain any accumulated grease.
  • Add tomato paste, crushed tomatoes, salt, and pepper to taste. Let simmer on low for about 30 minutes.
  • Add the spinach, stir, and cook until wilted. Remove from heat and set aside.

Prepare Cheese Mixture:

  • In a large bowl, combine ricotta cheese, parmesan cheese, mozzarella cheese, Pepper Jack cheese, egg, dried basil, Italian seasoning, red pepper flakes, salt, and pepper to taste. Stir until fully combined. The mixture will be thick, which is okay, as the zucchini has enough moisture, and we don't want to make it more watery.

Assemble Lasagna:

  • Lightly grease a 9×13 casserole dish with olive oil.
  • Spread about 1/2 cup of the cheese mixture on the bottom and add one layer of zucchini to cover the bottom of the pan.
  • Spread 1/2 of the remaining cheese mixture, then top with 1/2 of the meat mixture.
  • Add another layer of zucchini and top with the remaining cheese mixture, followed by the beef mixture. Add the final layer of zucchini and top with 1 cup of marinara sauce and 1 cup of shredded mozzarella cheese.

Bake:

  • Preheat oven to 375 degrees F.
  • Cover with foil so it doesn't touch the cheese, and bake for 30 minutes.
  • Uncover and bake for another 20 to 30 minutes. If needed, broil at the end to make the cheese golden brown.

Serve:

  • Remove from oven and let the lasagna rest for 10-15 minutes before slicing.
  • Garnish with parsley and serve.

Nutrition Facts

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Comments

(25)
Wendy

Wendy

I made it for myself šŸ˜ƒIā€™m a diabetic so it was good for my bsl I put some capsicum in and some extra spices to make the meat taste better and more mozzarella cheese on top. Was delicious and filling.

Jill Visser

Jill Visser

Super great recipe! Company loved it and asked for the recipe.

Jill Visser

Jill Visser

This is fabulous! I made it for company last night and both asked for the recipe. I did add some spices to the meat mixture while cooking. I also substituted the pepper jack cheese for italian blend cheese. Next time, I will add mushrooms too. Sooooo good!!


Catalina Castravet

Catalina Castravet

Thank you for your review. Happy you loved it!

Sabrina

Sabrina

Omg yummmy looks so good! Making it tmrw! Just a quick question are the nutrition facts for the whole lasagna or for a serving size.


Catalina Castravet

Catalina Castravet

per serving size :)

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