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
You’ll never remember that the zucchini is in this recipe to replace pasta — the flavors come through and all the cheesy goodness takes center stage!
- 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.