This Zucchini Lasagna with Turkey Meat Sauce is a hearty yet healthy dish that’s impressive enough for a weekend dinner with friends.
Tender zucchini replaces traditional noodles and is layered with an easy to make but flavorful ground turkey meat sauce then blanketed with two different kinds of cheese for ultimate flavor.
It’s perfect for rainy weekends or at the peak of summer when it’s too hot to eat outdoors. I say hit the farmers market in the morning then make it for an easy Saturday night summer supper.
All About Summer Squash
In the warmer months farmers markets explode with a variety of summer squash celebrating all shapes, sizes, and shades of yellow and green. You may know them by names like pattypan, crookneck, yellow squash or zucchini.
Summer squash is either canary yellow or dark evergreen, they have soft, thin edible skin with varying texture and flesh that ranges from watery to firm and dense.
All summer squash can be eaten raw or cooked and have a mild flavor that can range from grassy to sweet. Most summer squash are a perfect size and shape for layering like we do in this recipe.
Summer squash is available year-round, but if you want ingredients to taste their absolute best, eat in season and as close to the harvest locale as possible.
Tips and Tricks for Making the Best Zucchini Lasagna
Here are a few tips and tricks to make the perfect summer squash lasagna:
- Look for squash about 8-inches long and 1 1/2 inches across.
- Baby zucchini aren’t as flavorful and larger zucchini are pithy with too many seeds. Opt for a medium size.
- Cut the squash into 1/4 inch slices. Any thinner the squash will deteriorate and any thicker makes layering complicated.
- Even though you can eat summer squash raw pre-cook it for this recipe so it can release its moisture. You don’t want zucchini-turkey soup, we’re making a lasagna!
- The sauce needs to be cooked until fairly dry, as well. You got it; we’re avoiding zucchini-turkey soup.
- We’re accustomed to mountains of melted cheese with lasagna, but too much here overpowers the freshness of the vegetables so stick with the recommended amount.
- On the other hand, pile on the herbs if you have them. Basil’s citrusy aroma goes naturally with tomato. Adding a tablespoon of parsley adds a grassy note that rounds out the summery feel.
Low Carb Summer Lasagna Swaps and Substitutions
Summertime recipes are at their best when flexible, flavorful, and fun to make. This Low Carb Lasagna fits the bill.
- Try using grilled summer squash instead of roasted in this dish to give it a super satisfyingly smoky taste.
- Swap out the crushed tomatoes and onions with 2 cups of your favorite store-bought marinara.
- Swap out the fat free ground turkey for dark meat ground turkey, ground chicken, ground beef, or plant-based burger meat.
- Want to make it cheesier? Increase the Parmesan on top of the sauce.
- Swap out cilantro for the parsley and basil and give the tomato-turkey sauce a hearty teaspoon of chili powder and ground cumin for a Tex-Mex version.
- Use pre-cooked butternut squash strips during the fall and winter months.
Make Ahead and Storage Instructions
The components can be made ahead, refrigerated, and assembled before baking or it can be made and stored covered overnight in the refrigerator before baking. As squash will still retain a lot of water when raw or cooked, it does not freeze well in either state.
It’s best to use up cooked leftovers by enjoying them reheated within the next 2-3 days. To reheat, bake in a 350°F oven covered in foil until warm, 5 to 15 minutes, depending on the size. Smaller leftovers microwave easily – and can be transformed into a great sandwich wrap or quesadilla, too.
More Healthy Recipes
Zucchini Lasagna with Ground Turkey
Non-stick cooking spray
5-6 medium (3 pounds) zucchini or yellow squash
3/4 teaspoon coarse kosher salt, divided
3/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper, divided
1 cup low-fat ricotta, optional
1 teaspoon pure olive oil
1 medium onion, chopped
4 garlic cloves, very finely chopped
1 pound ground turkey, preferably breast meat
1 (14.5 ounce) can crushed tomatoes
1 tablespoon chopped fresh basil
1 tablespoon fresh parsley, chopped, optional
1/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes, or to taste
1/3 cup shredded Parmesan cheese, divided
1 cup (4 ounces) shredded part-skim mozzarella cheese
Preheat the oven and prepare baking dish:
Preheat the oven to 425°F. Spray an 8 by 8-inch baking dish with nonstick cooking spray. Set aside.
Line baking sheets and prepare squash:
Line 2 rimmed baking sheets with silicone mats or parchment paper. Remove the stem end of the squash. Slice the squash lengthwise into 1/4-inch thick strips.
Place the squash on the prepared baking sheets in a single layer. Season with 1/4 teaspoon salt and 1/4 teaspoon black pepper.
Roast, rotating the baking sheets once halfway through cooking, until the squash is tender, about 25 minutes. Don’t skip this step! The zucchini needs to be tender and cooked all the way through so it will not exude liquid into the lasagna.
Season the ricotta:
While the squash is roasting, place the ricotta it in a small bowl. Season with 1/4 teaspoon salt and 1/4 teaspoon black pepper. Stir to combine and set aside.
Cook the aromatics:
While the squash is roasting, set a large skillet over medium heat. Add the oil. Once the oil shimmers, add the onion and cook, stirring occasionally, until golden brown, 5 to 7 minutes. Add the garlic and cook until fragrant, 45 to 60 seconds.
Make the meat sauce:
Add the turkey to the skillet with the onion and garlic. Season with the remaining 1/4 teaspoon salt and 1/4 teaspoon black pepper. Cook, breaking up the turkey with a wooden spoon until the turkey starts to cook on the outer edges, about 3 to 5 minutes.
Add the crushed tomatoes, basil, parsley, and red pepper flakes. Stir to combine and continue to cook until the meat is cooked through, and the mixture is fairly dry, and most of the moisture has evaporated, about 10 minutes.
Taste and adjust for seasoning with additional salt and pepper if needed.
Remove the baking sheet of vegetables to a rack to cool slightly. You don’t want them piping hot and falling apart. Leave the oven on. You will use it to bake the lasagna.
Assemble the lasagna:
Place 1 cup of the meat sauce in the bottom of the prepared baking dish. Place a single layer of squash strips on top, trimming all the squash strips to fit, if necessary.
Top with 1 cup of meat sauce, spreading with a spoon or spatula to lightly cover the vegetables. Sprinkle with 2 tablespoons of Parmesan cheese.
Add a second layer of squash strips perpendicular to how the first layer was placed. Top with 1 cup of meat sauce, spreading with a spoon or spatula to lightly cover the vegetables. Sprinkle with 2 tablespoons of Parmesan cheese.
Gently spread the ricotta over the squash and Parmesan using a spoon or spatula to help you. You’ll be using all of the ricotta for this one layer.
Add a third layer of squash strips in the opposite direction of the last layer. Top with the final cup of meat sauce, spreading with a spoon or spatula to lightly cover the vegetables. (Your final lasagna will have 3 layers of squash and 4 layers of meat sauce including the top and bottom layers.)
Top with shredded mozzarella and sprinkle over the remaining tablespoon of Parmesan cheese.
Bake the lasagna then serve:
Transfer to the oven and cook until bubbly and golden brown, 25 to 30 minutes. Remove to a rack to cool slightly, then serve.
|Nutrition Facts (per serving)|
|Amount per serving|
|% Daily Value*|
|Total Fat 4g||5%|
|Saturated Fat 1g||6%|
|Total Carbohydrate 10g||4%|
|Dietary Fiber 3g||11%|
|Total Sugars 6g|
|Vitamin C 25mg||126%|
|*The % Daily Value (DV) tells you how much a nutrient in a food serving contributes to a daily diet. 2,000 calories a day is used for general nutrition advice.|