Zucchini

Zucchini Lasagna

April 16, 2021
3 Ratings
Photo by Julia Gartland. Prop Stylist: Amanda Widis. Food Stylist: Anna Billingskog.
Author Notes

Sliced zucchini, gooey mozzarella, chunky tomato sauce, creamy ricotta, repeat. If you're reading this and paused when you saw zucchini, believe me, I understand. I used to be squeamish about embracing vegetables, and always felt like doing so meant missing out on satiety. That is, until I started developing dishes like this zucchini lasagna. It's full of flavor, loaded with texture, and so satisfying that I never feel like I'm sacrificing a thing. When I sunk my teeth into this for the first time, I asked myself, "Veggie who, veggie what?" And I'm that one that made it.

Lately, my husband and I have been doing vegan or vegetarian weekdays. One glaring observation during this quest? Vegetables retain a lot of damn water. And there is nothing I despise more than soggy food. When working with vegetable substitutes, there are a few universal rules to retain the vegetable's integrity while reducing excess moisture: In this lasagna, thinly sliced zucchini replaces pasta. So I take a couple of key steps to make sure this zucchini stays on point:

First, I pull out the tools. My favorite, in this case, is the mandoline. Please don't get me wrong, you can cut your zucchini by hand—but a mandoline ensures all of your zucchini strips are cut evenly, so they cook evenly. I set my mandoline for 1/8-inch cut: pretty thin but thick enough to stand against the heat. Next, I reduce the excess liquid. Salt draws out moisture, then a quick roast expedites the process and tenderizes the zucchini. Once I pull the zucchini out of the oven, I transfer the slices to paper towels to dry out. This is essential in making sure that you don't end up with a pool of liquid in your lasagna pan.

After you take those steps, all you have to do is layer your ingredients and bake. But if you're feeling spiffy like me, you'll sprinkle a garlicky crumble over the top for added texture and flavor. Layer upon layer, this zucchini lasagna is hearty enough to satisfy your soul. —Meiko And The Dish

  • Prep time 30 minutes
  • Cook time 1 hour 20 minutes
  • Serves 8
Ingredients
  • Seasoning blend
  • 2 teaspoons onion powder
  • 2 teaspoons garlic powder
  • 2 teaspoons Italian seasoning
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons kosher salt
  • 1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes (optional)
  • Lasagna
  • Cooking spray
  • 4 medium zucchini, sliced lengthwise into 1/8-inch thick pieces
  • 1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 medium yellow onion, diced
  • 1 pound ground beef or ground meat alternative (such as Impossible ground beef)
  • 1 (24-ounce) can tomato sauce
  • 5 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 tablespoon tomato paste
  • 1/2 teaspoon hot sauce
  • 1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar
  • 1 pound ricotta cheese
  • 1 large egg
  • 1/3 cup finely grated Parmesan
  • 3 cups low-moisture mozzarella, shredded
  • Garlicky crumble
  • 4 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1/3 cup bread crumbs (I used a blend of Italian-style and panko)
  • 3 tablespoons finely grated Parmesan
  • 1 teaspoon extra-virgin olive oil
In This Recipe
Directions
  1. Make the seasoning blend: Add all seasonings to a bowl and stir until combined.
  2. Prepare the zucchini: Heat the oven to 450°F and coat 2 large sheet pans with cooking spray. Arrange sliced zucchini in a single layer on a baking sheet without overlapping. Use 2 teaspoons of seasoning blend to sprinkle on top of zucchini on both sides. Transfer to the oven and roast for 8 minutes. Remove the zucchini slices from the baking sheet and place on a paper towel to absorb any excess moisture. Reduce the oven heat to 350°F.
  3. Make the meat sauce: Heat the olive oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Add the onion and cook for about 3 minutes, until soft. Add the ground meat, plus 1 tablespoon of the seasoning blend, and cook until browned, approximately 6 minutes. Use a wooden spoon to break up the meat while it cooks.
  4. Stir in the tomato sauce, garlic, tomato paste, hot sauce, and balsamic vinegar, plus an additional 2 teaspoons of the seasoning blend. Let simmer over medium heat for 15 minutes.
  5. Assemble the lasagna: Combine the ricotta, egg, Parmesan, and 1 teaspoon of the seasoning blend in a small bowl.
  6. Lightly oil a 9x13-inch baking pan. Add 3 to 4 spoonfuls of the meat sauce across the bottom of the pan, followed by 1/4 of the zucchini slices in a single layer. Sprinkle over 1/4 of the shredded mozzarella, followed by a layer of meat sauce (approximately 1 heaping cup). Spread 1/3 of the ricotta mixture in dollops on top. Repeat this two more times by layering the zucchini slices, mozzarella, meat sauce, and ricotta mixture. Be sure to gently press down with each layer of zucchini. Finally, top with the last layer of zucchini slices and then the last of the shredded mozzarella cheese.
  7. Make the garlic crumble: Add the garlic, bread crumbs, Parmesan, remaining seasoning blend, and the oil to a bowl and toss until combined. Sprinkle the garlic crumble across the top of the lasagna.
  8. Transfer to the oven and bake for about 50 minutes. The top should be golden brown and bubbly on the edges. Let the lasagna sit at room temp for 15 to 20 minutes before serving.

See what other Food52ers are saying.

  • laura
    laura
  • Suzanne Battiston
    Suzanne Battiston
  • Meiko And The Dish
    Meiko And The Dish
  • Irene O'Garden
    Irene O'Garden
Meiko is corporate America retiree turned full-time foodie and host. Besides her obvious love of cooking she obsessed with designing foodie apparel, celebrity gossip sites and hosting elaborate dining experiences. She shares her recipes, kitchen hacks and entertaining tips on the blog meikoandthedish.com. Check it out!

7 Reviews

Irene O. May 8, 2021
Love it and so did my guests! They took special delight in the crumble. Used ground turkey —next I’m trying Quorn meatless grounds. And so happy I can freeze it—am making for Memorial Day gathering. Thank you!
 
Author Comment
Meiko A. May 12, 2021
I'm so happy you love the recipe! Hope your Memorial Day festivities go off without a hitch!
 
rdverma May 3, 2021
Best zucchini lasagna yet! Perfect seasoning blend, right amount of cheese. Might slice zucchini a bit thicker next time but agree 8 minutes is the perfect roasting time. Crunchy topping was a nice add but was a little overcooked. Agree with Suzanne B.—will add 25 minutes into overall oven time. If pressed for time add your favorite tomato sauce to meat/onion mixture. A comforting but healthy dish to be included in our family dinner rotation!
 
laura April 19, 2021
I made this without the “crunch” and it was seriously the bomb... so good! I wouldn’t change a thing. Definitely mash the zucchini layer down. Thank you!!
 
Author Comment
Meiko A. April 19, 2021
So happy you enjoyed it!
 
Suzanne B. April 16, 2021
Great recipe! We didn’t miss the noodles at all. My husband remarked that this was actually better than walking lasagna as he didn’t feel so stuffed! The crunchy topping adds the perfect foil to the cheesy lasagna. I put the crunchy topping on 25 min into the overall oven time - it was perfect and crunchy. I think it would have been too well done if I’d put it on from the beginning. 8 min is the perfect amount of time roast the zucchini noodles. Anything more than that and they start to break down. Well done Mieko, we have a new favourite!
 
Author Comment
Meiko A. April 19, 2021
Great tip! I'll have to try adding the crumble later like you did!