Gluten-free lasagna zucchini boats are stuffed with all the goodness of lasagna but without all the heavy pasta. A healthy and delicious alternative!
Why you’ll love it: All the flavors of lasagna in a lighter, healthier dish!
How long it takes: 1 hour 15 minutes, but 45 minutes is hands-off baking time.
Equipment you’ll need: baking dish, skillet, bowls and measuring tools
Ricotta stuffed zucchini halves, topped with your favorite spaghetti sauce, and melty mozzarella cheese are fun, filling, and healthy. You’ll enjoy all the great flavors of lasagna but without all the noodles.
And you won’t have to bother making all the time consuming layers. I have a thing about lasagna. It just seems so tedious. I’ve come up with lasagna soup, skillet lasagna, and lasagna roll-ups just to avoid it (and they are all really great, by the way).
I may have outdone myself with these zucchini boats. Zucchini really lends itself to being stuffed — a perfect size and really nutritious. In the summer months, the farm markets are loaded with it or maybe you even have a surplus in your garden.
Sail away to a great dinner with lasagna zucchini boats. You’ll be glad you did!
About this recipe
This recipe is keto-friendly, as long as you choose marinara or spaghetti sauce that’s carb-free. It’s also gluten-free and it can easily be made into a vegetarian entree.
The complete printable recipe can be found at the end of this post. I’ll give a quick run through of the recipe right here.
What you need
- Zucchini: You’ll need four medium sized zucchini. Zucchini squash size can vary wildly, from pickle-sized to submarines. Look for zucchini that are roughly 8 inches long.
- Lean Ground Beef or Turkey: Ground chicken or Italian sausage are good options, too, or leave the meat out for a vegetarian dish. The ground meat is sautéed with Onion, seasoned with Salt and Pepper, and Minced Garlic.
- Marinara Sauce: Spaghetti sauce is fine, too. Use homemade or sauce from a jar. You’ll need about a cup.
- Ricotta Cheese, Egg, Parmesan Cheese: Stirred together for the creamy layer we all love in lasagna, seasoned with Garlic Powder, Dried Oregano, Black Pepper, Fresh Parsley and Basil.
- Mozzarella Cheese: The lasagna boats are topped with a layer of melted mozzarella.
How to make lasagna zucchini boats
First off, prepare the zucchini squash. Slice them lengthwise, stem to stern. Scoop out the insides, leaving a quarter inch rim. Discard what you scoop out. It will be mostly seeds. Put them, cut side down, on a paper towel to drain while you get the “stuffing” ready.
Brown the meat in a skillet with onions, seasoning with salt and pepper. Add garlic and sauté briefly. Stir in spaghetti sauce.
Mix up the creamy ricotta stuffing. It’s pretty much the same as what you find in lasagna: ricotta, egg, Parmesan, and herbs.
Now you’re ready to fill the boats. Divide the ricotta mixture evenly between the eight zucchini halves, spreading it out from end to end.
Top that with the meaty sauce. Way easier than lasagna, right?
Put the boats into a baking dish and bake until the zucchini is tender, about 35 minutes. Top with mozzarella, and bake for a few more minutes.
Aren’t they beautiful? I just love these boats and I’m sure you will, too!
You might recall last week I threw a kind of strange term at you, disgorging. This simple process removes excess moisture from watery vegetables like zucchini or eggplant. Simply sprinkle the cut surface liberally with salt, let set 15-20 minutes, then pat dry to remove excess salt and water. We don’t find it necessary for this recipe, but if you’d like to, you may.
For sure, yes! The tender dark green skin of zucchini is totally edible and contains most of the antioxidants of this healthy vegetable.
Again, a resounding yes! Raw or cooked, zucchini is a nutritious and versatile vegetable. Raw zucchini noodles are especially fun in salads. Try this Zucchini Noodle Salad with Beans, Feta, and Lemon or make your salad to-go with Zucchini Noodle Mason Jar Salad with Farro and Mozzarella. Rather have your zoodles cooked? Try Turkey Bolognese with Zucchini Noodles. It’s gluten-free!
How to make these stuffed zucchini your own
- Vegetarian Option: Stuffed zucchini make a perfect vegetarian entree. Simply leave out the ground meat. There’s plenty of substance and taste without the beef or turkey in this dish.
- Substitute Italian sausage or ground chicken for the ground beef.
- Replace the ricotta cheese with cottage cheese, if you like.
- Zucchini are very “stuffable.” Try Pesto and Cheese Stuffed Zucchini or Cream Cheese Stuffed Zucchini. So good.
- Not into zucchini? Try Stuffed Butternut Squash with quinoa, kale, and bacon.
Make Ahead Ideas
Assemble the stuffed zucchini but don’t bake. Refrigerate for up to one day, covered tightly. Bake as directed, adding five minutes to baking time.
Storage & Reheating Suggestions
Leftover zucchini boats can be refrigerated for up to 3 days. They are really good the next day!
Just microwave them on high in one minute increments (or push the reheat button) until heated through.
More zucchini love
Low carb and low calorie, with a non-assertive flavor, zucchini squash can be served in so many delicious ways. Try:
- Healthy Zucchini Bread – whole wheat
- Best Grilled Zucchini – easy technique!
- Zucchini Rice Casserole (Brown Rice!)
- Zucchini Pizza Bites
- Turkey Soup with Zucchini Noodles
- Grilled Vegetable Salad with Goat Cheese
- Air Fryer Zucchini Chips
- Zucchini Feta Pancakes Topped with Sour Cream
- 4 large zucchini (about 6 oz. each), cut in half vertically, from top to bottom
- ½ pound lean ground beef or turkey
- ½ cup diced onion (about 1 medium yellow onion)
- ¼ teaspoon kosher salt
- ⅛ teaspoon coarse ground black pepper
- 2 cloves garlic, minced
- 1 cup marinara or spaghetti sauce
- 1 cup ricotta cheese
- 1 large egg, beaten
- ½ cup grated Parmesan cheese
- ½ teaspoon garlic powder
- ½ teaspoon dried oregano
- ⅛ teaspoon coarsely ground black pepper
- 2 tablespoons finely minced fresh parsley more for garnishing
- 1 tablespoon finely minced fresh basil more for garnishing
- 1 cup shredded mozzarella cheese
- Preheat oven to 400ºF. Spray a 9×13-inch baking dish with nonstick cooking spray and set aside. Scoop out insides of each zucchini, leaving about 1/4-inch rim. Set aside, cut side down, on a paper towel to drain.
- In a large skillet over medium-high heat, add oil, onion and ground beef and sprinkle with salt and pepper. Cook, breaking up the meat, until beef is no longer pink and onions are translucent. Drain grease if needed. Add garlic and continue to cook for one minute, stirring, or until fragrant. Add marinara sauce and stir to combine. Remove from heat.
- In a small bowl, combine ricotta cheese, egg, Parmesan cheese, parsley, basil, garlic powder, oregano, black pepper. Spread evenly into the bottom of each of the zucchini “boats” and place in prepared 9×13 pan.
- Spoon meat sauce on top of ricotta mixture.
- Cover baking dish with foil and bake for 35 minutes. Remove from oven and sprinkle with mozzarella cheese.
- Continue to bake, uncovered, until cheese is melted and zucchini is tender, about 5-10 minutes.
- If you prefer, replace ground beef with Italian sausage or ground chicken, or omit the meat for a vegetarian entree.
- Cottage cheese can be used as a substitute for ricotta cheese.
- Make Ahead: Prepare the boats but don’t bake them. Refrigerate for up to a day, tightly covered. Bake as directed, adding five minutes to baking time.
This website provides approximate nutrition information for convenience and as a courtesy only. Nutrition data is gathered primarily from the USDA Food Composition Database, whenever available, or otherwise other online calculators.