Zucchini lasagna rolls are nothing new on the food scene, but they look so good I had to try them for myself.
Zucchini is probably my favorite substitute for pasta. It keeps its texture and when prepared correctly it doesn’t water down your dish. Substituting zucchini in place of pasta is a great way to make a low-carb recipe. It also makes this recipe a little friendlier on your waistline.
Zucchini lasagna rolls are made of thick pillowy soft ricotta cheese (homemade) seasoned with Italian flavor. The filling is rolled up inside a tender slice of zucchini, placed on a bed of fresh tomato sauce, and smothered in gooey melted mozzarella cheese.
Y’all these things are pretty good! Especially if you consider there is no pasta or meat in them. Yes, there are a few steps in preparing this recipe. However, there are some shortcuts you can take along the way. I always say anything really good to eat should always worth a little effort. Right?
Let’s make Zucchini Lasagna Rolls!
How to Make Zucchini Lasagna Rolls
Ok, here’s the deal, I had to make this recipe a couple of times before I could share it with you. There were issues with the zucchini slices and a couple of other minor things I had to tweak before this recipe was ready. Before we begin, allow me to point out a few things.
What you need to know before preparing the zucchini lasagna rolls:
Cutting the Zucchini:
The zucchini slices need to be no more than ¼-inch thick in order to roll up. Any thicker and they try to break or fold up rather than roll.
The first time I made these, the zucchini slices did not want to roll up. This is because I used a chef’s knife to cut the slices and they were a little too thick to roll up.
Unless you are really good with a knife, the slices don’t turn out that uniform. I highly recommend using a mandolin to slice the zucchini. They are perfectly uniform and they are so much easier to roll up. You can find a food mandolin like the one I use HERE.
You can take a shortcut and buy prepared marinara, but trust me, the tomato sauce in this recipe is delicious and doesn’t require a lot of time. It could also be prepared up to 3 days in advance.
Salting the Zucchini:
Salting the zucchini helps to remove excess water from the slices, which can cause the sauce to become watery. Salt the zucchini slices at least 15 minutes before filling. Make sure you rinse the zucchini well before preparing the zucchini lasagna rolls or they could be too salty.
The Zucchini Rolls:
If your zucchini rolls start to unroll, you can use toothpicks, but I found that the sauce is enough to hold them closed. If not lean the roll against the side of the baking dish until you have enough zucchini rolls to lean the seams against each other. This will help keep them from unrolling and you don’t have to worry about stabbing yourself in the mouth with a toothpick.
If you’re looking for a way to cut some calories this Meatless Monday, I highly recommend making these vegetarian zucchini lasagna rolls. They are a great way to bring a healthier and lighter dish to your dinner table. They are so good you won’t miss the pasta (pinky promise).
Zucchini Lasagna Rolls
- 2 to 3 zucchini firm, sliced lengthwise, into (12) ⅛ – ¼-inch thick slices
- 1 cup mozzarella cheese shredded
- ¼ cup parmesan cheese grated
- Cheese Filling (recipe to follow)
- Tomato Sauce (recipe to follow)
- 2 tablespoons fresh basil torn into bits for serving (optional)
The Tomato Sauce: (Can use two cups of prepared jarred tomato)
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- ½ cup onion chopped
- 2 tablespoons carrot grated
- 3 garlic cloves minced
- 2 sprigs fresh thyme chopped
- ¼ teaspoon cayenne pepper + more if desired (optional)
- 28 ounces canned tomato sauce
- 1 bay leaf
The Cheese Filling:
- 1 ½ cups ricotta cheese homemade is easy to make and always best
- ½ cup parmesan cheese freshly grated
- 1 egg lightly beaten
- ½ teaspoon garlic powder
- ½ teaspoon onion powder
- ½ teaspoon oregano dried
- ½ teaspoon basil
- salt and fresh cracked black pepper to taste
Prepare the Tomato Sauce:
- Heat the olive oil in a medium saucepan over medium heat, saute the onions until they are tender and become transparent, about 5 to 7 minutes. Then add the carrots, garlic and thyme. Cook until everything is nice and tender. Stir in the tomato sauce and bay leaf, then cover and simmer over low heat while preparing the zucchini and filling.
Prepare the Zucchini:
- While the sauce simmers, slice the zucchini using a mandolin or sharp knife. Lay the slices on the zucchini flat in a single layer on a baking sheet lined with paper towels. Sprinkle the slices with salt, flip and sprinkle the other side with salt and set them aside for 15 minutes.
Prepare the Ricotta Filling:
- In a medium bowl, combine the ricotta, parmesan, egg, garlic powder, onion powder, dried oregano, dried basil, and season with salt and fresh cracked black pepper, to taste. Mix thoroughly until combined.
Make the Zucchini Lasagna Rolls:
- Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.
- Remove the tomato sauce from the heat, take the bay leaf out of the sauce and discard. Spread about ⅔ of the tomato sauce into the bottom of a 9×9-inch baking dish; set aside.
- Rinse the zucchini slices under cool running water, then pat dry with paper towels. Lay a slice of zucchini out onto a clean work surface. Blot with a paper towel to ensure that it is dry. Spoon some of the ricotta filling onto the zucchini slice. Roll the zucchini slice up and transfer the roll into the prepared baking dish. Repeat the process with the remaining zucchini slices and ricotta filling.
- If you have any remaining ricotta filling, spoon it on top of each roll until it is used up. Now, spoon the remaining tomato sauce over the zucchini rolls and sprinkle each with mozzarella cheese, then the parmesan cheese.
- Place inside the preheated oven until the cheese starts to brown and the zucchini are tender; about 30 to 45 minutes.
- Place 3 zucchini lasagna rolls on a serving plate, garnished with fresh basil, optional.