Part of the challenge of eating grain-free is figuring out how to still make my family’s favourite meals. After the success of replacing lasagna noodles with zucchini, I decided to try it out with manicotti. The rolls ended up being a little smaller but twice as good! No fussing with boiling noodles. No ripping manicotti while trying to stuff them. Just put a spoonful of filling onto a roasted zucchini strip and roll it up!
I added frozen spinach to the original recipe
and used a homemade pasta sauce. The initial reaction from the kids was “Ewww..” but what else is new. I swear, there are meals that I have to convince them that I am NOT trying to poison them. The funny thing is, those are the meals that end up becoming favourites.
2-3 zucchini, sliced lengthwise 1/8″ thick
4 teaspoons olive oil
1 medium onion, coarsely chopped
1 pound ground beef
salt and pepper
500g container ricotta cheese
10oz frozen chopped spinach, thawed and thoroughly drained
2 cups shredded mozzarella
1/2 cup grated parmesan
2 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley (or 1/2 tablespoon dried)
2 garlic cloves, minced
3 cups pasta sauce (homemade or jarred)
Preheat oven to 425°F. Arrange slices of zucchini in a single layer on 2 baking sheets that have been oiled with 1 teaspoon of olive oil each. Bake each sheet for 5 minutes, flip zucchini and bake for another 3-5 minutes, until zucchini is tender. Cool while you prepare the filling.
Reduce oven to 350°F.
In a large frying pan, heat remaining 2 teaspoons olive oil over medium heat. Saute the ground beef and onions until the meat is browned and the onions are translucent, about 5 minutes. Remove from heat, drain any fat, and cool.
In a large bowl, combine ricotta cheese, spinach, 1 cup of mozzarella cheese, 1/4 cup of parmesan cheese, parsley, salt, pepper, and garlic. Stir in cooled meat mixture and thoroughly combine.
Spread 1 1/2 cups of sauce over the bottom of a 9×13″ baking dish. Scoop 1-2 tablespoons of filling onto the end of each slice of zucchini. Roll the zucchini over the filling and place, seam side down, in the baking dish. Arrange the rolled zucchini tightly in the pan until the pan is full. Sprinkle with any leftover filling and cover with remaining 1 1/2 cups of sauce. Top with remaining 1 cup of mozzarella and 1/4 cup of parmesan cheese.
Bake, uncovered, until heated through and the sauce is bubbling, about 30-40 minutes.