Keto zucchini lasagna is a delicious healthy beef lasagna dish made with lasagna noodles instead of pasta. Rediscover your favorite Italian pasta dish without the carbs using flavorsome Italian seasoned beef, marinara sauce, and cheesy ricotta Parmesan white sauce.
What is zucchini lasagna?
Zucchini lasagna is noodle-free lasagna. In fact, it uses zucchini ribbons called zucchini noodles to replace the regular wheat lasagna sheets. Therefore, this beef lasagna is very low in carbs but retains all the classic Italian flavors.
How to prepare zucchini noodles?
Zucchini noodles are long, thin ribbons of zucchini that mimic the regular lasagna sheets in a zucchini lasagna. To create perfect zucchini layers for your lasagna, you must follow 3 steps.
Step 1: Slice zucchini finely, lengthwise
For this recipe, you will use about 3 large zucchinis of about 300g (10.5oz) each. First, wash the zucchinis, pat them dry, keep the skin on, and trim the ends.
Next, use a mandolin, set it on 1/8-inch (0.3mm) thickness, and slice the zucchini lengthwise to form long, thin zucchini noodles. Finally, place all the zucchini ribbons into a colander.
Step 2: Salting the zucchini noodles
You must extract all the water from the zucchini before using your zucchini noodles. To do so, sprinkle 1 teaspoon of sea salt all over the prepared noodles.
Then, toss with your hands to bring the salt in contact with all zucchini surface. Set aside 20 minutes to let the zucchini sweat and extract their water.
After this time, the zucchini noodles will be thinner, softer, and look sweaty on the surface.
Step 3: Patting dry each noodle
The last step consists of removing the water from the surface of each zucchini noodle.
The more water you pat dry, the less watery your lasagna dish will be. First, lay a large piece of absorbent paper onto your countertop, about 12 inches (30 cm).
Then, lay each zucchini side by side, but do not let them overlap if you can. Press another piece of absorbent paper on top and gently extract all the water from the zucchinis.
Your noodles are now ready to be used, set aside on a plate.
Beef marinara sauce
This recipe uses a meat sauce made of the following ingredients :
Marinara sauce – tomatoes are keto-friendly vegetables, however, some tomato sauces contain added sugar. So always check the ingredients list, you must see only tomatoes, salt, or preservatives but no added sugar.
Ricotta Parmesan cheese sauce
This is a lasagna recipe for people on a keto diet. Therefore, it doesn’t use a regular white sauce that contains wheat flour, milk, and lots of carbs. Instead, the white sauce is replaced by a cheesy sauce made of:
Are Ricotta and Parmesan keto-friendly?
Ricotta and Parmesan are among the lowest carb dairy product with respectively 1.7 grams and 0.9 grams of net carbs per ounce.
How to assemble zucchini lasagna?
As for regular lasagna, you will assemble layers of ingredients until you fill your 9-inch x 13-inch baking dish. This recipe makes 3 layers of zucchinis, which means that for each layer you will use about 1/3 of the total amount of each ingredient: meat sauce, white sauce, and zucchini noodles.
Since the shredded mozzarella cheese is also used on top of the dish, you will use only 1/4 of the total amount per layer. Like for any lasagna dish, it doesn’t have to be overly precise. Do your best to add a similar amount of each sauce between the zucchini pasta layers to make the dish balanced. However, it would still taste good if you did not. If you want to reduce saturated fat in this dish, you can use some low-fat shredded mozzarella.
Add about 1/2 cup meat sauce at the bottom of the baking dish.
Top with zucchini noodles to fully cover the pan, don’t overlap the noodles, place them side by side until you can’t see the bottom of the pan or the meat sauce.
Sprinkle 1/4 of the amount of shredded mozzarella cheese on top of the zucchini layers.
Add more meat sauce (about 1/3 the amount of the remaining sauce).
Add dollops of ricotta cheese sauce, about 1/3 of the amount.
Top with zucchini ribbon, as before don’t overlap, place them side by side until it fully hides the layer of meat/ricotta created under it.
Repeat these steps until the dish is full and finish with a layer of shredded mozzarella cheese.
Baking and serving zucchini lasagna
Bake the dish at 400F (200C) for about 20-30 minutes. You know it’s ready when bubbles form on the sides of the baking dish, and the baked zucchini are soft but still tender if you insert a knife into the dish.
Cooldown to avoid soupy servings!
I won’t lie to you; zucchini lasagna can look unappealing even though they are extremely tasty! In fact, even if you successfully extracted all the water from the zucchini, the dish will be more watery than regular lasagna simply because it consists of mostly liquid layers.
However, the longer the dish cools down, the less watery/soupy the lasagna will be.
If you really want to serve beautiful zucchini lasagna, make the dish ahead, and store it in the fridge overnight. Slice them cold the next day and rewarm in the microwave or oven on a single-serve dish/plate.
Honestly, I care about taste more than presentation when it comes to lasagna, so I usually only cool the dish for 15 minutes at room temperature.
Serving with a side of keto bread
Zucchini lasagne are juicy, and there is nothing better than a piece of keto bread to dip in the meat marinara sauce! I recommend a piece of my keto garlic bread or keto bread rolls. It will pair really well with this low-carb keto lasagna dish.
More keto zucchini recipes
If you love this recipe, I have plenty more zucchini keto recipes for you to try, all gluten-free too!
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Preheat oven to 400°F (200°C). Grease a 9 x 13-inch baking dish with oil spray or olive oil. Set aside
Prepare the zucchini ribbons
Trim zucchini ends, don't peel the skin off, then slice lengthwise into thin ribbons of about 1/4 inches (0.5 mm), it doesn't have to be precise, just avoid too thin layers that will break in pieces. You can either use a mandolin or a knife to achieve this.
Place all the zucchini ribbon in a colander, sprinkle 1 teaspoon of salt over them and toss with your hands to bring the salt in contact with all the surface of the zucchini ribbons. Set aside 20 minutes to let the zucchini extract their water. Meanwhile, make the meat sauce.
Make the meat sauce
In a large saucepan or skillet, heat olive oil under medium heat.
Stir in diced onion and cook for 1-2 minutes until translucent and fragrant.
Stir in diced pepper and cook 1 minute.
Add in ground beef, dried oregano, dried parsley, garlic powder, and Italian seasoning.
Cook and stir until the meat is no longer pink.
Add in marinara sauce, cover, bring to boil, then reduce heat to low and simmer for 10 minutes until sauce thickens slightly. Meanwhile, prepare the ricotta sauce.
Make the ricotta cheese sauce
In a medium-size mixing bowl, beat egg with Parmesan and ricotta cheese. Set aside.
Pat dry the zucchini noodles
To avoid watery zucchini lasagna, pat-dry each zucchini ribbon between pieces of absorbent paper. Lay a large piece of absorbent paper on your counter-top, about 30 cm long. Arrange zucchini ribbon next to each other, don't overlap if you can, add the same size absorbent paper on top, and press gently to pat dry and remove excess water. Set side dried noodles on a plate.
Assemble the zucchini lasagna
You will form 3 layers of zucchinis with this recipe. Start by covering the bottom of the pan with 1/2 cup of meat sauce then cover with zucchini ribbons. Place the zucchini noodle next to each other, to fully cover the dish. Watch my video for technique.
Sprinkle 1/4 of the total amount of shredded mozzarella cheese all over the zucchini noodles then spread meat sauce(roughly 1/3 of the remaining volume of sauce)
Top up with dollops of ricotta cheese sauce, same roughly 1/3 of total volume. Repeat the layering process of adding zucchini ribbons, shredded mozzarella cheese, meat sauce, ricotta dollops until 3 layers of zucchini are formed and no more sauce is left. To finish, top up with leftover grated mozzarella.
Bake uncovered for 20-30 minutes or until bubbles form on the side of the dish and the zucchinis are still tender if you insert a knife in the center of the dish. After this time, turn oven to broil mode and broil cheese for 2-3 minutes if desired.
Zucchini lasagna always has a more watery aspect than regular lasagna, when served. It is better served in a shallow bowl. To prevent it from becoming too watery, cool in the baking dish 15 minutes before cutting and serving. This recipe serves 12 portions.
Storage and freezing
This zucchini lasagna is even better the next day. Store in the fridge, directly in the pasta lasagna dish, covered with some wrap to prevent the top of the dish from drying out. Keep up to 4 days in the fridge or freeze in individual containers. Defrost the fridge the day before. Rewarm in a sauce pan or in the microwave.