This zucchini lasagna has no noodles, but you won’t miss them! Make it with or without meat for a delicious and healthy Italian-style meal everyone will devour.
If you’re growing zucchini this summer, welcome to the “what-do-I-do-with-all-these-zucchini club”!
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You’re going to be so pleased with this zucchini lasagna as it uses 2 pounds of zucchini (about 4 medium squash) for an 8×8 pan, and it really tastes so much like a proper lasagna!
Last year, my mother turned me onto a dish my Nonna Chiarina used to make in Italy: I love this baked zucchini with tomatoes recipe which can also be made in the air fryer.
NOTE: Let’s get to our recipe at hand, now. I recommend making this dish in advance so that it sets nicely in the fridge. It can then be cut into quarters, reheated and it holds together better than slicing it when it’s first out of the oven.
Want a quick and easy recipe? Spaghetti with zucchini is for you!
Do I Need to Grill or Pre-Cook the Zucchini?
No, there’s no pre-cooking involved for the zucchini. We will get rid of the extra water by salting them so that the lasagna isn’t “soupy”. Did you know zucchini are 94% water?! I tested making the lasagna without doing this step and it was too runny. If you don’t mind it like this, you can skip this step as it was still delicious. However, I’d advise making the zucchini lasagna in individual dishes so you don’t have to cut and serve it.
Is this Zucchini Lasagna Gluten Free?
You can absolutely make this dish completely gluten free by making the white sauce with a gluten free flour. Just make it exactly as directed, but substitute the regular flour for gluten free.
Check out my traditional lasagna recipe.
Is this Zucchini Lasagna Vegetarian?
Absolutely, yes! However, feel free to make my meat sauce instead of a plain tomato sauce if you don’t want a vegetarian zucchini lasagna.
You can make this as a main course, or serve smaller pieces as a side dish. I bet you’ll receive rave reviews either way. If you try it, please let me know what you think in the COMMENTS below. Or leave a review by clicking the STARS above the PRINT button in the recipe card, thank you!
Zucchini Lasagna Recipe (with or without Meat)
recipe by Christina Conte serves 4 (as a main course)
FULL PRINTABLE RECIPE BELOW
Prepare the Zucchini
Wash and slice the zucchini lengthwise (you can slice them into rounds if you’re making individual servings in smaller pans).
I used an OXO mandoline slicer and cut the slice at the #5 setting (just under 1/4″ thick). I also use these protective gloves after a few nice slices on my fingers and thumbs on sharp kitchen tools like this one. You can also slice them with a knife, but be sure to cut them evenly.
Place the slices of zucchini in a large colander placed over a pie dish. Sprinkle lightly with Crystal Kosher salt and continue layering and sprinkling.
Once all the zucchini are in the colander and salted, put a plate or bowl on top with a heavy weight to push down on the squash. I used a heavy jug. After a while, you’ll see the liquid begin to drain into the pie dish. Let it drain for about 1 or 2 hours. Meanwhile, make the white sauce (next step).
Squeeze the zucchini to remove more water, then they are ready to use. I measured 6 oz of liquid from 4 zucchini and didn’t let it drain for very long.
Prepare the Béchamel Sauce (White Sauce)
Follow the directions here, but if you’ve never made it before, it’s really simple. A couple of tips: don’t undercook the flour or it won’t taste good, and don’t add too much milk at a time in the early stages of making the sauce.
In a few minutes, you’ll have a creamy and delicious white sauce!
Assemble the Zucchini Lasagna
In an 8×8 ovenproof dish (or individual dishes-these ramekins are great if serving as a side dish), spread a little tomato sauce (if using a meat sauce, try not to put meat on the bottom). Next layer strips of zucchini.
Spread a layer of white sauce across the zucchini, and then dot with tomato sauce.
Next add some sliced or grated mozzarella cheese.
Don’t be tempted to add extra cheese. There is already white sauce in the dish, and a little mozzarella will go a long way.
Repeat the layers, alternating the direction of the zucchini slices so that each layer is perpendicular to the last. Do this until all of the slices are used. Try to save a few of the nicest slices for the top layer since that’s the one that will be seen. On the very top layer, ONLY put tomato sauce, again, try not to have pieces of ground beef if you’re using a meat sauce.
See how easy that was? And it already looks crazy good!
Sprinkle with some grated Parmigiano Reggiano or Pecorino Romano cheese, and it’s ready for the oven.
Bake the Zucchini Lasagna
Pop the dish, uncovered, into the preheated oven and bake for approximately 35 to 45 minutes. The top will be very bubbly when ready.
Allow to cool for at least 15 minutes, but as noted above, for best results, refrigerate overnight. Slice and serve the next day after reheating.
Each piece is a hearty sized serving.
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- 2 lbs (about 4 medium sized) zucchini
- Crystal Kosher salt
- 12 oz homemade pasta sauce (with or without meat, see links in NOTES)
- Béchamel sauce (see ingredients below, directions in NOTES)
- 4 oz mozzarella cheese (low moisture)
- 2 tsp grated Parmigiano Reggiano or Pecorino Romano
- 2 oz butter
- 2 oz flour
- 12 oz warm milk, whole is best
- dash of nutmeg
- 1/4 tsp Kosher or sea salt
- white pepper
Oven temperature: 375 F (190 C)
Prepare the Zucchini
- Wash and slice the zucchini lengthwise (you can slice them into rounds if you’re making individual servings in smaller pans).
- I used an OXO mandoline slicer and cut the slice at the #5 setting (just under 1/4″ thick). You can also slice them with a knife, but be sure to cut them evenly.
- Place the slices of zucchini in a large colander placed over a pie dish. Sprinkle lightly with Crystal Kosher salt and continue layering and sprinkling.
- Once all the zucchini are in the colander and salted, put a plate or bowl on top with a heavy weight to push down on the squash. I used a heavy jug. After a while, you’ll see the liquid begin to drain into the pie dish. Let it drain for about 1 or 2 hours. Meanwhile, make the white sauce (next step).
- Squeeze the zucchini to remove more water, then they are ready to use. I measured 6 oz of liquid from 4 zucchini and didn’t let it drain for very long.
Prepare the Béchamel Sauce (White Sauce)
See the link in NOTES.
Assemble the Zucchini Lasagna
Preheat the oven at this time.
- In an 8×8 ovenproof dish (or individual dishes-these ramekins are great if serving as a side dish), spread a little tomato sauce (if using a meat sauce, try not to put meat on the bottom). Next layer strips of zucchini.
- Spread a layer of white sauce across the zucchini, and then dot with tomato sauce. Next add some sliced or grated mozzarella cheese. Don't be tempted to add more cheese.
- Repeat the layers, alternating the direction of the zucchini slices so that each layer is perpendicular to the last. Do this until all of the slices are used.
- Try to save a few of the nicest slices for the top layer since that’s the one that will be seen. On the very top layer, ONLY put tomato sauce, again, try not to have pieces of ground beef if you’re using a meat sauce. Sprinkle with some grated Parmigiano Reggiano or Pecorino Romano cheese, and it’s ready for the oven.
- Pop the dish, uncovered, into the preheated oven and bake for approximately 35 to 45 minutes. The top will be very bubbly when ready. Remove from the oven and allow to cool for at least 15 minutes.
See notes for serving suggestion. Do not serve with any sides. Lasagna in Italy is always served on its own.
NOTE: Let's get to our recipe at hand, now. I recommend making this dish in advance so that it sets nicely in the fridge. It can then be cut into quarters, reheated and it holds together better than slicing it when it's first out of the oven.
As an Amazon Associate and member of other affiliate programs, I earn from qualifying purchases.
Nutrition Information:Yield: 4 Serving Size: 1
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 399Total Fat: 26gSaturated Fat: 15gTrans Fat: 1gUnsaturated Fat: 9gCholesterol: 77mgSodium: 1099mgCarbohydrates: 25gFiber: 2gSugar: 11gProtein: 15g
Nutrition information is only estimated.
- 4 Tbsp extra virgin olive oil (good quality like Partanna)
- 3 or 4 cloves of garlic
- 2 Tbsp chopped fresh parsley
- 1 lb ground beef
- approximately 42 oz Italian tomato purée (passata) or whole tomatoes, puréed (the very best choice is San Marzano dell'Agro Sarnese-Nocerino, DOP) (If using 24 oz jars, you'll need 1 3/4 jars - if using 28 oz cans, use 1 1/2 cans.)
- fresh basil
- 3 oz butter
- 4 oz flour
- 24 oz milk
- dash of nutmeg
- white pepper
- 1 lb lasagna noodles or sheets (use pasta from Italy, or homemade, for best results)
- 10 oz shredded mozzarella cheese (whole milk, low moisture) I recommend shredding your own cheese
- 2 Tbsp grated Parmigiano Reggiano cheese to sprinkle on top
1. Make the Meat Sauce
- In a large, heavy pot, put the olive oil, garlic and parsley over medium high heat. When the garlic begins to brown, increase the heat and add the ground beef. Break up the beef, but keep it rather chunky. Sprinkle with about 1/2 tsp of salt.
- When the beef is beginning to dry up, add the tomatoes and stir well. Add more salt, then lower the heat and allow to simmer for about an hour, stirring from time to time. Taste for salt and add pepper.
- When the sauce is ready, add the torn basil leaves. Remove about a cup (8 oz) of plain sauce (leave the ground beef in the pot and save for the top layer). Refrigerate the meat sauce when cool, or set aside if using right away.
2. Make the Bechamel Sauce (while the sauce is simmering).
- Melt the butter in a medium pot then add the flour. Keep stirring to cook the flour for at least 5 minutes, but don't let it brown. Pour in a little of the milk, and stir quickly to incorporate.
- Continue stirring and adding milk a little at a time. Once all the milk is mixed into the flour and butter mixture, add more.
- Add more milk each time as the composition gets more sauce-like.
- When all the milk has been added, season with about 1/2 tsp salt, a dash of nutmeg and about 1/4 tsp white pepper. Taste and adjust as needed. Keep a lid on the sauce if not using right away.
3. Cook the Noodles (Skip this step if using no-cook lasagna noodles).
- Boil the noodles in plenty of salted water, making sure to keep moving them so they don't stick together. Remove the noodles from the heat 5 minutes BEFORE the instructed time on the box.
- Reserve about 2 cups of the pasta water. Drain most of the water and then fill the pot with cold water just to cover the noodles. This will stop the pasta from cooking further.
4. Assemble the Lasagna
- Put a thin layer of sauce (no meat) on the very bottom of the 9x13 pan.
- Add three pieces of lasagna lengthwise, then top generously with a quarter of the bechamel sauce.
- Next, dollop on the meat sauce, but don't add so much that the lasagna will only be sauce at the end.
- Sprinkle on about a quarter of the mozzarella.
- Then top with more lasagna sheets, however, this time, cut them to 9" strips so that you can place them in the opposite direction. This gives the lasagna structure so that it can hold together when cut. Cut the pieces so that it covers the bottom layer without leaving too much space.
- Repeat with the bechamel, meat sauce and mozzarella another three times so that there are 5 layers of pasta and 4 layers of filling.
- You may or may not have leftover meat sauce, depending on how much sauce you added. However, if you do use it all, take some of the reserved pasta water (about a cup) and rinse the pot with it and add it to the lasagna before the top layer goes on.
- Alternatively, just pour the water directly onto the lasagna. We didn't fully cook the pasta, so it will absorb more liquid as it cooks in the oven.
- The top of the lasagna will have the strips lengthwise, so I usually pull four (I overlap the top layer) of the best looking pieces (which aren't broken or cut) and save them for the top. Spread some of the tomato sauce without meat pieces for the very top layer.
- Lastly, sprinkle some grated Parmesan on top of the lasagna before baking.
5. Bake the Lasagna (or Freeze at this Point)
- Cover with foil (but make sure the foil doesn't touch the lasagna as tomatoes will eat through the foil) and put in a preheated 400 F (200 C) degree oven for 20 minutes.
- Remove the foil and continue to bake for another 10 to 20 minutes, depending on how crispy you want the top.
- The edges will be bubbly when you remove it from the oven, so be careful. Allow to cool for about 10 minutes before cutting.
My recommendation is to freeze the lasagna after assembling then defrost and bake as directed.
If you have leftovers, or choose to freeze after baking, that is a great option, as well. Freezing in individual servings after baking is a marvelous idea, especially for singles or couples.
Special equipment: 9"x13" lasagna pan
Nutrition Information:Yield: 12 Serving Size: 1
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 416Total Fat: 24gSaturated Fat: 10gTrans Fat: 1gUnsaturated Fat: 11gCholesterol: 70mgSodium: 442mgCarbohydrates: 29gFiber: 3gSugar: 3gProtein: 22g
Nutrition information is only estimated.
- 4 Tbsp extra virgin olive oil (good quality)
- 3 cloves of fresh garlic (be sure it is not from China)
- fresh Italian parsley, chopped
- 8 oz ground beef, grass fed
- about 2 tsp Kosher or sea salt
- 1 (28 oz) jar/can of good quality Italian tomatoes (passata/purée or for the best quality, look for Pomodoro San Marzano Dell'Agro Sarnese-Nocerino DOP tomatoes--which are only ever whole, peeled tomatoes grown in a certain region of Italy)
- 8 to 10 fresh Italian basil leaves
- (optional black pepper, to taste)
Make the Spaghetti Sauce
- Crush the garlic with the flat side of a knife.
- Bring the extra virgin olive oil (and lard, if using) to medium high heat, then add the garlic and chopped parsley.
- After a minute, add the ground beef and break up with a wooden spoon. Add some salt, and cook until it begins to dry up, then add the tomato passata/purèe/chopped tomatoes of your choice.
- If using Mutti, they tend to be thick, so add about ¾ cup (6 oz) of water or until the bottom line of the jar (shake to rinse) then add to the pot. If you're using another brand, rinse the can/jar with a little less water, unless it's very thick.
- Put the burner on high to bring the sauce to a simmer, and add more salt. Don't be afraid to add Kosher/sea salt as I can guarantee you will have much less sodium in this sauce than a jar of store-bought.
- Lower the heat so that the sauce simmers gently for about an hour, stirring occassionally (so that the sauce won't stick). Taste for seasoning after about 30 minutes, and add salt if needed.
- When the sauce is ready, check once again for seasoning. Add salt and pepper as desired, and a generous amount of fresh basil, torn into pieces.
To serve properly (this is important for flavor) follow these directions:
If you want to use a colander to drain the spaghetti, reserve some pasta water. Otherwise, use a pasta fork to take the pasta directly from the pot and place into the sauce (either remove some of the sauce from the pot, or use another pot to mix the pasta and sauce together). Just remember, the spaghetti goes into the sauce, not the other way around. You can have it over very low heat to keep the pasta super hot (how I like it).
Mix well. If the pasta soaks up the sauce and seems too dry, add a little pasta water.
Add sauce until the pasta is completely coated.
There are two ways to serve spaghetti: twirled (more of a restaurant style), or simply placed as is, into a bowl (family-style).
To serve restaurant style, use a large fork, or tongs to twirl the pasta inside a ladle. Then simply place onto the bowl, or plate. Top with a sprig of basil, and serve!
Otherwise, simply place in the bowl, family-style.
Top with freshly grated Parmigiano Reggiano or Pecorino Romano cheese.
Nutrition Information:Yield: 6 Serving Size: 1
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 160Total Fat: 12gSaturated Fat: 2gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 9gCholesterol: 19mgSodium: 410mgCarbohydrates: 6gFiber: 2gSugar: 4gProtein: 9g
Nutrition information is for spaghetti sauce only, and is an estimate.
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