Calling all traditional lasagna lovers! Zucchini Lasagna Roll-Ups are everything you love about the favorite comfort food in a fun, new form. This slimmed down version perfect for guilt-free dining!
Instead of a big slab of cheesy lasagna this recipe swaps in zucchini slices as a pasta replacement. The delicious filling is spread and rolled up then cooked in tasty marinara sauce.
Using reduced fat ricotta and mozzarella cheese shaves off some calories leaving the big familiar flavors you love.
We are sharing all our secrets to make this a favorite meat-free dinner recipe! They can also be frozen and reheated.
Zucchini Roll Ups are delicious and filling. One serving equals 5-6 rolls ups packed with favorite lasagna flavors.
They are not difficult to make but do take a bit of time. We've assembled our pro tips to streamline the process!
What makes this skinny?
- using sliced zucchini instead of lasagna pasta noodles
- using lower calorie cheese
A regular serving of lasagna can be 500-600 calories. This version is 250 calories for 5 roll ups and for WW SP 7 on green and 6 points for blue or purple.
Zucchini Roll-Ups - Pro Tips
Use a mandoline slicer. Not to be confused with a mandolin slicer (a mandolin is a musical instrument), a mandoline allows slicing vegetables into designated thicknesses. It's a very useful kitchen tool especially for a recipe like this one. As an alternative a vegetable peeler may be used. Even with a sharp knife slicing the zucchini is very difficult.
Slice zucchini into ⅛ inch thick slices. This thickness is the perfect to make pliable, rollable 'lasagna noodles'. Thick slices will not roll well without breaking.
Don't skip the salting step. As with eggplant, salting the zucchini slices draws out excess water. This is needed to ensure the best results. Without doing this step the zucchini becomes watery when cooking. This technique can be used anytime you are preparing zucchini strips for cooking in a recipe.
Secure zucchini slice on paper towel before adding filling. The zucchini slices can be slightly slippery. Placing the slice on a dry paper towel AND dabbing with a second paper towel to remove moisture makes it much easier to spread the filling.
Spread the ricotta cheese filling with clean hands. Use clean fingers to spread the filling over the entire zucchini slice. Trust me, this is the easiest and fastest way to do it!
Recipe Ingredients + Notes
Zucchini. Use 3 large fresh zucchini squash. Large zucchini means long and wide. I try to make strips about 10-inchs long and 2-3 inches wide if possible. Medium zucchini can be used if needed.
Marinara sauce. This is our favorite tomato sauce to use. Homemade sauce or jarred sauce can be used.
Mozzarella cheese. Shredded. Use low moisture part skim mozzarella for the best lower calorie option.
Baby Spinach. Fresh baby spinach will be wilted with the garlic before adding to the filling.
Garlic Cloves. You'll use two.
Ricotta Cheese. Use low fat ricotta cheese. It's the lowest calorie option while still having a great texture and flavor. By comparison low fat is about 50 calories for ¼ cup, 'part skim' is 70-80 calories for ¼ cup and whole milk ricotta is 100 calories for a ¼ cup.
Egg. You'll use one.
Parmesan cheese. Grated or finely shredded parmesan cheese both work.
Fresh herbs. Basil leaves and Italian Parsley are used in the filling.
Salt and black pepper. You'll use salt both in salting the zucchini slices and seasoning the filling. We suggest kosher salt which is a less salty tasting salt.
Add more seasonings you love. Italian Seasoning or a pinch of red pepper flakes give the ricotta filling more flavor.
Use different pasta sauce. Any red sauce you love can be used.
Add ground meat. Ground beef, ground turkey or other lean meat can be added to the filling. Brown the meat then add the baby spinach and garlic. Adjust calories accordingly.
Make a meat sauce. If meat is desired but not IN the zucchini rolls, add browned ground meat to the marinara sauce.
How to Salt Zucchini
This step is the foundation of a great end result! It makes the zucchini less watery when it's cooked.
As a rule of thumb use ½ teaspoon salt per pound of zucchini.
- In a large rimmed baking sheet add two layers of paper towels.
- Layer zucchini slices, side by side (single layer not overlapping) on the paper towels (refer to photo 1 below).
- Sprinkle a light layer of salt onto the zucchini slices.
- Cover with two layers of paper towels.
- Repeat layering until all zucchini slices are layered and salted.
- Add two layers of paper towels on top.
- Add a second baking sheet on top and place an object on top to lightly weight the baking sheet (it does not need to press down dramatically just add some light pressure).
- Allow to sit 10-15 minutes while you make the filling.
How to make Zucchini Lasagna Roll-Ups - Step-by-Step
STEP 1. Preparation
Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F. Salt the zucchini as described above.
STEP 2. Make the filling
Heat a large non-stick skillet over medium heat. Spray with non-stick cooking spray and add the baby spinach and garlic (photo 2).
Sauté to wilt the spinach and until the garlic is fragrant (3-4 minutes). Remove from heat and allow to cool slightly (photo 3).
In a large bowl combine the low fat ricotta cheese, egg, parmesan cheese, chopped basil, chopped Italian parsley and the spinach mixture (photo 4-6).
Season with salt and pepper. Stir to fully combine (photo 7).
STEP 3. Assemble the roll-ups
Pour 1 cup of the marinara sauce into a 9-inch baking dish.
Place two paper towels on your work surface. Place one slice of zucchini noodles on the paper towel (this keeps it from slipping). Dab the top with another fresh paper towel to remove any moisture.
Spread 1 tablespoon of the ricotta mixture over the length of the zucchini slice (to the end of the zucchini slice) (photo 8-9). NOTE: I find it easiest to do this with clean hands.
Sprinkle with 1 teaspoon of the mozzarella cheese.
Starting at one end roll the zucchini slice up (refer to photo 9).
Place the zucchini lasagna rolls in the baking dish (photo 10), seam sides toward the edge of the pan for the first row (subsequent rolls till support each other).
Repeat until all the filling has been used.
STEP 4. Bake
Spoon the remaining ½ cup of marinara sauce over the top of the roll ups and sprinkle with the remaining mozzarella cheese.
Bake for 25-30 minutes until the zucchini is cooked through and golden on top (photo 11).
Store in an airtight container in the refrigerator for 2-3 days. Warm in the microwave before eating.
Freezing Zucchini Roll-Ups
Prepare the recipe as described. Allow the cooked roll-ups to cool completely. Add to a freezer-safe airtight container and freeze up to 30 months. Thaw in the refrigerator and reheat in the microwave or oven before eating.
They can be frozen in portions too.
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Zucchini Lasagna Roll Ups (slimmed down)
- 3 large zucchini sliced into 30 ⅛-inch thick slices using a mandoline slicer or a vegetable peeler
- 4 cups baby spinach
- 2 cloves garlic minced
- 1 cup shredded low moisture part skim mozzarella cheese
- 2 cups low fat ricotta cheese
- 1 egg
- ⅓ cup grated or finely shredded parmesan cheese
- ¼ cup freshly chopped basil
- ¼ cup freshly chopped parsley
- 1 ¼ cup marinara sauce
- Preheat oven to 400 degrees F.
Salting the Zucchini (to release excess water)
- Line a large rimmed baking sheet with two layers of paper towels. Place zucchini slices side by side on the paper towels. Sprinkle with salt (½ teaspoon per pound of zucchini).
- Place two more layers on top and repeat until all the zucchini slices are on the baking dish and finish with a double layer of paper towels.
- Place a second baking sheet on top and an object on top to press it down slightly.
- Allow to sit for 10-15 minutes for the liquid to be released.
Making the filling
- Heat a large non-stick skillet over medium heat. Spray with non-stick cooking spray and add the baby spinach and garlic.
- Saute to wilt the spinach and until the garlic is fragrant (3-4 minutes). Remove from heat and allow to cool slightly.
- In a large bowl combine the low fat ricotta cheese, egg, parmesan cheese, chopped basil, chopped Italian parsley and the spinach garlic mixture. Season with salt and pepper. Stir to fully combine.
Assembling the Roll Ups
- Pour ¾ cup of the marinara sauce into a 9-inch baking dish.
- Place two paper towels on your work surface. Remove one of the zucchini slices from the paper towel and add to the fresh paper towels. Dab the top with another fresh paper towel.
- Spread 1 tablespoon of the ricotta mixture over the length of the zucchini slice. NOTE: I find it easiest to do this with clean hands.
- Sprinkle with 1 teaspoon of the mozzarella cheese.
- Starting at one end roll the zucchini slice up. Place seam side facing the edge of the baking dish. NOTE: after the first row the roll ups will support each other.
- Repeat until all the filling has been used.
- Spoon the remaining ½ cup of marinara sauce over the top of the roll ups and sprinkle with the remaining mozzarella cheese.
- Bake for 25-30 minutes until the zucchini is cooked through and golden on top.