The Noodle Swap Giada De Laurentiis Uses For A Veggie-Packed Lasagna

Italian food doesn't get much better than cheesy lasagna, all hot and melty right out of the oven, but a non-traditional take has its place when you're craving something a little different. You could use an easy frozen ravioli shortcut, or try Giada De Laurentiis' veggie-packed zucchini lasagna rolls recipe — it's got all the flavors you'd expect from an old-school lasagna, but with two key differences. For one, it's made without noodles. In place of pasta, the pro chef cleverly swaps in thin strips of zucchini, for a more vegetable-forward dish that's both gluten-free and keto-friendly. 

The other big difference is that there's no layering involved. De Laurentiis rolls up the slices of zucchini with a mix of ricotta, spinach, and prosciutto. You end up with something that's like a cross between zucchini dumplings and stuffed shells, but with the comforting essence of a delicious lasagna. 

The beauty in this recipe is how easily it all comes together. When making conventional lasagna, you have to make a ground meat sauce and the noodles usually need to be pre-cooked (and there's a risk that they'll wind up mushy). For this zucchini lasagna, you only have to throw together a simple cheesy filling, and the zucchini needs no prep beyond the slicing and rolling.

Tips for excellent zucchini lasagna

To get your zucchini strips thin enough for Giada De Laurentiis' recipe, try using a mandoline, which makes for easier, more even slices than a veggie peeler. And if you want to make this dish vegetarian, leave out the prosciutto or replace it with chopped portobello mushrooms. If you think you'll miss the hearty texture of ground meat, lentils are the ideal ingredient swap for meatless lasagna. Another way to give this recipe a different veggie twist is to use eggplant instead of zucchini. 

If you do stick with the zukes, you might want to add another prep step. Zucchini tends to release a lot of water when cooked, and this can lead to a soggy lasagna, so salt your zucchini strips and let them sit for a few minutes. The salt draws out moisture in the form of water droplets on the slices. Rinse and pat them dry, and your lasagna should be less watery. Another tip for dealing with moisture is to use a pan that's wide enough to create space between the rolls. This allows steam to escape, rather than waterlogging the casserole.

Speaking of the sauce, the effort involved in making homemade marinara is a noble one, but it's not necessary to make your own from scratch. Giada De Laurentiis' pro tip for buying store-bought pasta sauce is to go with a brand that doesn't use any added sugar and has tomatoes listed as the first ingredient on the label.