If the cheesy, meaty allure of lasagna makes your heart go pitter-patter but you can’t stomach the noodle carb-bomb, you have to try my Ground Turkey & Zucchini Lasagna! This healthy lasagna with zucchini noodles has all the crave-worthy yumminess of the classic but without any of the guilt (or gluten!).
If you love the idea of Italian cuisine with an innovative twist that’ll satisfy both your tastebuds and your health-conscious mind, you’re going to flip for today’s recipe. I’m thrilled to present to you my lightened-up 90’s-style ground turkey and cottage cheese lasagna, reimagined with long, flat zoodles.
This zucchini noodle lasagna is a testament to the wonderful things we can do when we blend taste with nutrition. I’ve replaced traditional pasta with zucchini lasagna noodles, giving you a hearty dish that’s both low in carbs and high in satisfaction. Even my pasta-loving hubby gives it two enthusiastic thumbs up!
Best of all, this simple recipe for zucchini lasagna is as easy to make as it is tasty. Even if you’re a novice cook, this flavorful ground turkey zucchini recipe is wonderfully straightforward, making it a perfect choice for weekday meals.
- What Is Zucchini & Ground Turkey Lasagna?
- What does it taste like?
- Why You’ll Love This Low-Carb Zucchini Lasagna Recipe
- Ingredients Needed
- How To Make Zucchini Lasagna With Meat
- Optional Variations & Dietary Adjustments
- Serving Suggestions
- Recipe Success Tips
- Nutritional Info
- Pricing Info
- Other Italian-Style Recipes
What Is Zucchini & Ground Turkey Lasagna?
This low-carb recipe for ground turkey lasagna is a boatload of healthy deliciousness waiting to be discovered! This a dish that’s bursting with classic Italian flavors, but just so happens to be gluten-free AND loaded with veggies. Huzzah!
To begin, we have layers of fresh, crisp zucchini noodles in place of the usual carb-loaded pasta, and acting as the perfect vehicle for all the other fantastic flavors we’re about to pile on.
Rather than using the go-to fat- and sodium-laden pork sausage, we’re gonna use ground turkey instead. It’s lean, it’s tasty, and it’s going to give our pasta-free lasagna all that meaty heartiness we all crave. Mixing in a generous helping of marinara sauce gives us a beautiful base that’s full of those classic Italian bolognese flavors.
Next up, we’re swapping ricotta for cottage cheese. This might seem a bit unusual (unless you grew up during the low-fat-loving 90s), but it’s a game-changer! Cottage cheese brings all the ricotta creaminess to the dish while cutting back on calories and amping up the protein.
Don’t worry though, we still have parmesan and mozzarella in this healthy turkey lasagna mix — because let’s face it, can you ever have too much cheese in lasagna? I don’t think so!
And that, my friends, is what this healthy zucchini lasagna with cottage cheese is all about! It’s a hearty, flavorful, low-carb twist on the classic Italian pasta casserole that’s going to have you coming back for seconds (or thirds, but who’s counting, right?).
What does it taste like?
Prepare yourself for a journey through the flavorful Italian countryside, right in your own kitchen. Imagine the first bite: the earthy, succulent ground turkey, simmered in tangy, homemade marinara sauce, evokes the flavors of an old-world trattoria.
Next, you’re hit with the surprising creaminess of the cottage cheese, a delightful twirl of tangy and milky notes, blending beautifully with the savory turkey. The parmesan and mozzarella cheeses are like the duet in the cheese section of the symphony, melting into a cascade of gooey, indulgent goodness. And let’s not forget the black pepper, adding a hint of spice that twinkles on the palate like a cheeky wink.
Then, there’s the star of the zoodle lasagna show, the zucchini noodles. They’re fresh, slightly crisp, and absolutely bursting with a light, garden-fresh sweetness. It’s a refreshing counterpoint to the richness of the other ingredients, making the whole dish feel balanced and oh-so-satisfying.
Last but not least, the basil comes in like a playful whisper of the Mediterranean, its aromatic brightness lifting up the hearty flavors of this zucchini lasagne and leaving a refreshing aftertaste that invites you to dive in for another bite.
Each mouthful of this low-carb turkey zucchini lasagna is a new surprise that satisfies and delights, with every bite better than the last. Get ready, because your tastebuds are in for a real treat!
Why You’ll Love This Low-Carb Zucchini Lasagna Recipe
If you STILL need convincing to make this ground turkey and cottage cheese lasagne with zucchini noodles, keep in mind this recipe is also:
- Made With Fewer Than 10 Ingredients – Considering lasagna is made from layer after layer of delicious flavor makers, this is a real plus.
- Hearty & Comforting – This noodle-free lasagna has all the flavor you crave from your favorite Italian pasta dish. It’s just lightened up!
- Wholesome & Nutritious – Lean protein, lower-fat cheese, and veggie noodles create a nutritional trifecta that you can feel good about feeding your family.
Despite bursting at the seams with rich Italian flavor, you only need a few simple ingredients to make this easy zucchini lasagna recipe. Here’s what to grab:
- Ground Turkey – I love using ground poultry because it’s typically both lower in fat and less expensive than ground beef. I call that a win-win!
- Marinara Sauce – I love to use homemade marinara sauce to ensure it’s free from artificial ingredients and preservatives. You can also use store-bought if you’d like — just make sure to opt for a brand that is made with real, whole food ingredients like Rao’s.
- Cottage Cheese – Not only is it cheaper than ricotta cheese, but cottage cheese is also full of protein and creamy flavor. Plus, you can’t taste the difference at all, making it ideal for this zucchini lasagna recipe without ricotta!
- Parmesan Cheese – For giving your lasagne that salty, cheesy, nutty flavor we all know and love.
- Mozzarella Cheese – I typically opt for “part-skim” mozzarella to cut back on calories while keeping that Instagrammable cheese-pull stretchiness. It adds so much flavor when mixed in with the cheese layer, but also is perfect for browning on top of the lasagna. It makes it look absolutely gorgeous and mouthwatering, plus it tastes amazing!
- Egg – For helping give the cheese layer some structure and making it firmer and easier to slice.
- Black Pepper – For adding extra flavor without having to add any more salt than needed! Use freshly ground pepper if possible.
- Fresh Basil – For giving your noodle-less lasagna that sweet, herby flavor that makes it taste so summery and fresh!
- Fresh Zucchini – The star of this recipe! This bright green summer squash makes a great noodle substitute when sliced into strips and allows this lasagna recipe to be totally gluten-free!
Cottage Cheese vs. Ricotta Cheese
Ricotta cheese is often made from the whey left over from making other cheeses, although here in the U.S., it’s often made by curdling whole milk. It has a slightly sweet flavor and a smooth, creamy texture. Ricotta is a classic option in many traditional lasagna recipes, contributing to that creamy, indulgent layer we all love.
On the other hand, cottage cheese is made from the curds of cow’s milk and has a more distinct, chunky structure. The flavor can range from mild and milky to slightly tangy, depending on the variety. It also happens to be a protein-packed nutritional powerhouse!
In this healthy zucchini and turkey lasagna, using cottage cheese instead of ricotta adds an interesting textural element to the dish. The curds in the cottage cheese don’t melt entirely, so they maintain a bit of their structure, adding a unique mouthfeel to the lasagna. The slight tanginess of the cottage cheese also pairs wonderfully with the savory ground turkey and the fresh zucchini noodles, balancing out the flavors and preventing the dish from feeling too heavy.
Overall, the switch to cottage cheese makes our lasagna a touch lighter and adds a delightful twist to this classic Italian dish. It’s a testament to the flexibility of cooking — a little change can bring a whole new flavor experience to the table!
Just because I think this is the best zucchini lasagna around doesn’t mean you can’t improve on it to suit your own palate. Here are a few optional swaps you can make:
- Ground Turkey – Feel free to swap in ground chicken to make a zucchini chicken lasagna. Ground beef, ground pork, or turkey sausage will also work well. If you’d like to make this recipe vegetarian, substitute about 4 cups of chopped, sauteed mushrooms in place of the meat!
- Marinara Sauce – Spaghetti sauce works great in this recipe as well. Trust me, no one will know the difference!
- Cottage Cheese – Even though you can’t tell that there is cottage cheese in this recipe, you can certainly use ricotta in its place!
- Egg – There isn’t a substitute for egg in this recipe, but if you don’t eat eggs, simply leave it out.
- Fresh Basil – You can use about 1 teaspoon of dried basil if you don’t have fresh basil on hand. However, it may alter the taste a little bit. Definitely use fresh if you can!
- Fresh Zucchini – Yellow squash and summer squash are also perfect in this recipe. If you’re still not sure about using zucchini noodles for lasagna, I encourage you try it anyway. Trust me, you won’t dislike it as much as you think you will — you can’t even taste the squash!
How To Make Zucchini Lasagna With Meat
This easy zucchini and ground turkey recipe comes together with very little fuss. Here’s how:
Step 1: Brown the turkey in a medium skillet and drain off any excess fat.
Step 2: Make cheater’s bolognese. Reserve 1 cup of marinara sauce, then add the remaining sauce to the browned turkey and stir together to make a meat sauce. Set aside.
Step 3: Make cheese filling. Mix together cottage cheese, parmesan cheese, 1 cup of mozzarella cheese, egg, pepper, and fresh basil in a medium bowl. Set aside
Step 4: Slice the zucchini lengthwise using a knife or mandoline. Set aside.
Step 5: Assembly, Part 1. Spread the 1 cup of reserved marinara sauce evenly on the bottom of a 9×13 baking dish.
Step 6: Assembly, Part 2. Add a single layer of the sliced zucchini on top of the marinara sauce.
Step 7: Assembly, Part 3. Next, add half of the meat sauce, spreading evenly over the zucchini.
Step 8: Assembly, Part 4. For the next layer, add half of the cottage cheese mixture, spreading evenly over the meat sauce layer.
Step 9: Repeat Assembly Parts 1-4. Add another layer of zucchini, then meat sauce, then cottage cheese mixture. Add the last zucchini layer, then sprinkle the remaining 1 cup of mozzarella cheese on top.
Step 10: Bake until bubbly and delicious. Enjoy!
Optional Variations & Dietary Adjustments
The great thing about all lasagnas is that you can tweak them in about a gazillion different ways. Here are just a few ideas to get your creative juices flowing:
- Vegetarian Zucchini Lasagna – Try making a mushroom and spinach zucchini lasagna, or swap in your favorite meatless crumbles (e.g. Beyond Meat or Impossible Meat) to keep this recipe vegetarian-friendly.
- Vegan Zucchini Lasagna – Follow the vegetarian instructions, then swap in your favorite plant-based cheese alternatives.
- Swap Your Meat – Try making a ground chicken zucchini lasagna, or use any of your favorite ground meats like Italian sausage, lean beef, or bison.
- Zucchini Ricotta Lasagna – For a more traditional flavor profile, swap the cottage cheese for creamy ricotta.
If you’re looking for ways to showcase this yummy low-carb lasagna, you have lots of options to choose from. Here are just a few to get you started:
- Garnish Galore: Before serving, sprinkle some fresh basil leaves or parsley over the top of the lasagna for a pop of color and a fresh burst of flavor. A light dusting of parmesan cheese can also add a nice touch.
- Veggie Sides: Pair the lasagna with a vibrant, crunchy salad on the side for some extra veggie goodness. This could be a simple mixed green salad with a light vinaigrette, or you could go all out with a colorful antipasto salad filled with olives, artichokes, and roasted peppers.
- Bread Baskets: Although our lasagna is low-carb, for those who don’t mind a few extra carbs, you can serve it with a basket of warm, crusty garlic bread or some homemade focaccia to sop up any extra sauce and cheese.
- Wine Pairing: If you’re a wine lover, try serving this lasagna with a light-bodied red wine like a Chianti or a Montepulciano, which are Italian wines that pair well with the tomato-based sauce and the hearty turkey.
- Dessert Delights: To round off your Italian feast, how about a serving of homemade gelato or a slice of lemon ricotta cake for dessert? It’s a sweet way to finish off your meal!
- Themed Dinner: Make it a fun Italian night. Play some Italian music, use checkered tablecloths, and serve some olives and cheese as appetizers.
Recipe Success Tips
- Season the Turkey Well: Ground turkey can be a bit bland on its own, so don’t be shy with your seasoning.
- Let it Rest: After you pull the lasagna out of the oven, resist the urge to dig in right away. Let it rest for about 10-15 minutes. This allows the juices to redistribute and the lasagna to firm up a bit, which makes serving it much easier.
- Use High-Quality Ingredients: Use a good quality marinara sauce, as it will significantly impact the flavor of your lasagna. If you’re feeling adventurous, you could even make your own!
- Even Layering FTW: When layering your lasagna, make sure to spread each ingredient evenly to ensure every bite is full of all the delicious flavors.
- Bake Covered, Then Uncovered: Bake your lasagna covered with aluminum foil for the first part of the baking time, then remove the foil for the last 15 minutes or so. This allows the cheese to become golden and bubbly without burning.
How to slice zucchini for lasagna:
Slicing zucchini into lasagna noodles is a simple process but it does require a bit of careful handling to get those perfect, pasta-like slices. Here’s a step-by-step guide:
- Step 1: Choose the Right Zucchini. Opt for bigger zucchini as they are easier to slice and provide wider “noodles”. Make sure they are firm and free of blemishes.
- Step 2: Wash and Dry. Give your squash a good wash to remove any dirt or debris. Pat them dry with a clean towel.
- Step 3: Trim the Ends. Using a sharp knife, cut off both ends of the zucchini. This gives you a flat base and makes slicing easier.
- Step 4: Slice Lengthwise. Now it’s time to create your zucchini noodles. You have a few options here:
- Using a Knife: If you’re using a knife, carefully slice the zucchini lengthwise into thin planks, about 1/4 inch thick. Try to keep the slices as even as possible to ensure they cook uniformly.
- Using a Mandoline: If you have a mandoline slicer, this can make the process even easier. Set the mandoline to 1/4 inch thickness, then carefully run the zucchini lengthwise along the slicer. Always use the safety guard to protect your fingers.
- Using a Vegetable Peeler: A wide vegetable peeler can also work in a pinch. Hold the zucchini at one end and run the peeler along the length to create thin, flat “noodles”. This method might give you narrower slices but it will work if you don’t have other tools available.
- Step 5: Pat Dry. Once your zucchini is sliced, you might want to pat the slices dry with a paper towel or let them drain on a rack to remove excess moisture. This is an especially useful step if you’re not planning on precooking the zucchini, as it can help prevent a watery lasagna.
And voila! You now have zucchini noodles ready for your lasagna. This method gives you slices that are a similar size and shape to traditional lasagna noodles, making them a great low-carb alternative. Happy cooking!
A combination of slicing your zucchini thin, not using too much sauce, and baking the lasagna uncovered for most of the time is key to keeping it from being watery.
If this recipe is too watery for you, you can try roasting your zucchini before you make the lasagna. Personally, I don’t have the time or patience for that! You can also lightly salt the sliced zucchini and let it sit for a few minutes to draw out the water before patting it dry with a clean kitchen towel.
Yup! This delectable turkey and cottage cheese lasagna recipe is proof!
Ricotta is definitely the closest substitute, but it won’t have as much protein as cottage cheese.
I simply used my sharpest knife to slice the zucchini. It’s okay to cut the zucchini into shorter chunks in order to safely slice it with a knife. You can also use a vegetable peeler if you’d like!
Covering regular lasagna is pretty standard while baking to prevent burning.
For this recipe, cover the lasagna for about 20 minutes, then uncover it and bake it for another 30 minutes to help some of the moisture escape.
This zucchini lasagna recipe is much healthier than traditional lasagnas! It’s lower in carbohydrates, higher in protein, and has some hidden vegetables, too!
The carbohydrates in this recipe actually do come mostly from the zucchini. Zucchini is a squash, which has some starchy carbohydrates. Even so, this low-carb lasagna has much fewer carbs than regular lasagna and pastas!
Total nutritional content per serving is:
- Calories: 405 calories
- Total Fat: 22 grams
- Protein: 39 grams
- Sodium: 770 mg
- Carbohydrates: 12 grams
- Fiber: 4 grams
*This nutritional information is an estimate and calculated based on the ingredients used to create the recipe. The nutritional value of your ingredients may differ slightly. Furthermore, this food is not intended to prevent, diagnose, cure, or treat any disease.
This is what I personally paid to make this recipe:
- 2 lbs zucchini: $1.56
- 2 lbs ground turkey: $7.36
- 24 oz homemade marinara sauce: $2.15
- 2 cups cottage cheese: $1.75
- 1 cup shredded parmesan: $1.48
- 2 cups shredded mozzarella: $1.98
- 1 egg: $0.29
- 1/2 tsp pepper: $0.01
- 1/4 cup fresh basil: $0.43
Total comes out to be $17.01 per lasagna, or roughly $2.13 per serving.
Wondering what to serve with zucchini lasagna? Here are some ideas:
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Ground Turkey & Zucchini Lasagna
- 2 lbs ground turkey
- 24 oz marinara sauce (divided)
- 2 cups cottage cheese
- 1 cup shredded parmesan cheese
- 2 cups shredded mozzarella cheese (divided)
- 1 egg
- ½ tsp black pepper
- ¼ cup fresh basil chopped
- 2 lbs zucchini (about 3-4 zucchini), sliced into ¼ inch thick slices
- Preheat the oven to 400°. In a medium skillet, brown the turkey. Remove from heat and drain.
- Reserve 1 cup of marinara sauce, then add the remaining sauce to the browned turkey and stir together to make a meat sauce. Set aside.
- In a medium bowl, mix together cottage cheese, parmesan cheese, 1 cup of mozzarella cheese, egg, pepper, and fresh basil. Stir until well combined, and set aside.
- Spread the 1 cup of reserved marinara sauce evenly on the bottom of a 9×13 baking dish. Add a single layer of the sliced zucchini on top of the marinara sauce. Add half of the meat sauce, spreading evenly over the zucchini. Next, add half of the cottage cheese mixture, spreading evenly over the meat sauce layer.
- Add another layer of zucchini, then meat sauce, then cottage cheese mixture. Add last zucchini layer, then sprinkle the remaining 1 cup of mozzarella cheese on top.
- Bake covered for 20 minutes. After 20 minutes, uncover, and bake 30 minutes uncovered. To make your cheese golden brown, broil for the last 2-3 minutes.
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This healthy, summery zucchini lasagna is cheesy, filling, and so delicious! You’ll definitely want to make this before summer is over!