As I’ve mentioned, giving up pasta wasn’t too tough on me when switching to a Ketogenic lifestyle…it was giving up all the stuff that GOES with pasta: sauces, cheese, spices, meatballs… I’ve tried a few “keto” pasta alternatives and they just didn’t do it for me. What has been my favorite substitute is simple: zucchini or sometimes eggplant, depending on the recipe.
I make this Cheesy Zucchini Manicotti weekly – my kids love it and the zucchini mimics pasta so well, the flavors of the sauce, meat and spices come through perfectly. It’s hearty, super delicious and meets the macros – win, win, win!
Cheesy Zucchini Manicotti
- 4 whole zucchini squash, sliced lengthwise about 1/8" - 1/4" in thickness I prefer to use a mandoline for even slices
- 1 pound ground beef
- 2 cups no sugar added marinara sauce I like Rao's
- 1 cup shredded mozzarella cheese
- 1/2 cup grated parmesan cheese
- 1 cup whole milk ricotta cheese
- 1 egg lightly beaten
- 1 - 2 cloves minced garlic
- 2 tbsp dried parsley
- 1 tbsp dried oregano
- 2 tsp dried basil
- 1/2 tsp crushed red pepper flakes optional
- 1 tsp ground pepper
- 1 tsp sea salt
- 2 tbsp olive oil
- 2 tbsp butter
- Preheat over to 350 degrees.
- Spray an 8" x 8" baking dish with oil and set aside.
- Heat olive oil and butter in skillet over medium heat and add minced garlic. When garlic is soft, add ground beef, pepper, salt, 1 tsp basil, 1/2 of oregano and 1/2 of parsley, and crushed red pepper flakes, if using.
- Brown beef until cooked through and add marinara sauce. Lower to simmer, cover and let simmer while you prepare the zucchini and filling.
- In a medium bowl, combine egg, ricotta and parmesan cheese, 1/2 cup of mozzarella cheese and remaining spices and mix well. Season to taste with salt and pepper.
- Coat the bottom of the prepared dish with 1/2 cup of meatsauce.
- Place about 1 tbsp of cheese mixture at the end of a zucchini "sheet" and roll loosely. Place seam side down in prepared dish. Repeat with remaining zucchini sheets and cheese. Arrange zucchini rolls close together, but not too tightly.
- Sprinkle 1/4 cup of shredded mozzarella over rolls evenly.
- Pour remaining sauce over rolls and shredded cheese.
- Sprinkle with remaining mozzarella cheese.
- Place dish in preheated oven for 20 - 25 minutes.