This Zucchini Parmigiana is a pasta free, Italy inspired, Vegetarian and Keto friendly recipe. Baked in the oven, crispy on the outside and filled with Parmesan and tomato sauce – absolutely delicious.
Zucchini Parmigiana is a sister to famous Melanzane Parmigiana (made of eggplant) but I found this variation easier and faster to prepare as I don’t need to pre-cook or pre-fry the zucchini. The original recipe calls for fried zucchini yet I decided to omit this step and salt dry it instead.
This is a very few ingredients recipe however preparation takes a little bit of time here. It is totally worth it though and you will end up with 3 to 4 portions which are perfectly freezable – this makes it a great meal prep option.
The dish is basically a zucchini (courgette), tomato sauce (i will make one from scratch) and loads of yummy Italian cheese like mozzarella and of course, parmesan.
What will you need to prepare the Vegetarian Keto Zucchini Parmigiana
- 5 medium-size zucchini
- 2 cans of chopped tomatoes (choose the type which contains just tomato and no added sugar for a Keto friendly option
- 1 large or 2 small onions
- 2 tablespoons of tomato paste
- 2 buffalo mozzarellas
- 80-100 g of grated Parmigiano
- 4 large cloves of garlic
- Olive oil (around 3 tablespoons for frying)
- 2 tablespoons of vinegar (I used apple cider but balsamic vinegar is as good)
- Seasoning: salt, pepper, onion powder, Italian herb mix and crushed chillies
- Few leaves of basil
- 1.5 cups of water
Zucchini is a great versatile vegetable. There are thousands of recipes involving this vegetable simply because it’s delicious but also very low in calories (only around 55 calories in one large piece of vegetable). But it definitely doesn’t lack all the nutritious elements. Take a look at my Aubergine, Courgette and Red Pesto Rigatonnini recipe for another idea on how to incorporate courgette in your cooking life.
This is yet another vegetable that is actually botanically classified as a fruit. Zucchini is rich in several vitamins, minerals, and other beneficial plant compounds like potassium, magnesium and Vitamin A and C just to mention few. It is also very high in antioxidants.
Originally developed in Italy in 19th century near Milan. It is a staple in traditional Italian cuisine. Its name comes from a plural diminutive word for an Italian word for squash – ‘Zucca’. Its other name – ‘Courgette’ comes from the French word for this vegetable.
But enough of the history and biology lesson – let’s just get cooking (and eating)
Vegetarian Keto Zucchini Parmigiana Method
Prepare the zucchini by slicing them into around 3 to 4 mm slices. You can use a mandolin for perfectly even slices. I used the knife so the slices were not perfect. But hey, life is not perfect – imperfect is beautiful so embrace it 🙂 We don’t want them to be paper-thin but thin enough so they cook thoroughly.
Now to avoid excess liquid coming out during baking you can salt dry the zucchini. Lay the slices on the flat surface and sprinkle with salt. Then cover with a paper towel and leave for around half an hour. You will see the towel getting wet from all the zucchini juices. Rinse the slices with cold water and pat dry with paper towel again.
Now its time to make the sauce – you can make it whilst your zucchini are resting in salt.
Finely chop the onions and fry in olive oil on medium heat until lightly caramelized. Add chopped garlic. Season with salt and pepper. Keep stirring and watch out so the garlic doesn’t burn. Once all ingredients are lightly browned add tomato paste and keep frying until thickened.
Slowly add water and keep stirring. This should create a slightly thick tomato sauce base. Now add the rest of the seasoning. Garlic powder and chillies to taste. Add the vinegar also and fry for around 5 minutes.
Add the chopped tomatoes and basil leaves. Reduce the heat a bit and simmer for around 20 minutes until the sauce thickens. Add salt and pepper to taste. You want the sauce to be aromatic and well seasoned. You can add a sprinkle of sugar or honey – this will really bring up the flavours. For a Keto-friendly option, you will have to skip this step.
Assembly the dish
Use a heatproof lasagne dish for this. Start with the sauce. Throughout the whole process – the layer of tomato sauce will be quite thin. We don’t want to soak the zucchini the sauce – just cover it a little bit.
After the layer of sauce add a layer of zucchini. Cover all the corners and empty spaces. It doesn’t have to be beautiful – stomach doesn’t care much about the beauty 😉
Cover the first layer of zucchini with tomato sauce and then generously sprinkle with parmesan. Add another layer of zucchini and continue in the same manner. Sometime in the middle (probably after 2 or 3 layers of zucchini depending on the size of your dish) add torn mozzarella as well as parmesan. Then continue adding layers of zucchini, tomato sauce and parmesan.
After the last layer of zucchini just add tomato sauce on top but, not the cheese.
We will bake it for around 40 minutes first – if we added cheese too early it would burn. Place the dish in the oven preheated to around 190 Celcius and bake for around 40 minutes.
After this time sprinkle with remaining Parmesan and torn mozzarella cheese. Place back in the oven and bake until golden and crisp.
Let is cool before slicing.
It is Vegetarian and Keto friendly Zucchini Parmigiana however if divided into 4 potions one portion will contain around 400 calories and 25 grams of carbs. Nevertheless, it is very delicious. Enjoy! And please let me know down in the comments section how did you like this recipe 🙂