Cheesy Zucchini Spaghetti Casserole – Mel’s Kitchen Cafe
This delicious cheesy zucchini spaghetti casserole comes together fast and is the perfect way to use up that garden fresh zucchini!
I’m telling you, if you dismiss “zucchini” and/or “casserole,” you’ll be missing out on one of the tastiest recipes of the year.
This easy zucchini casserole has become one of our family’s favorite meals. Zero grumbling. The only downfall is finding the seven of us fighting over the last bits in the pan.
Baked Zucchini Crust
The base of this cheesy casserole is:
- shredded zucchini (we’ll talk more about this in a sec)
- Parmesan cheese + mozzarella cheese
It’s not a mistake: there’s no flour, bread crumbs or any other “dry” ingredients needed.
The most important part of the process is to sprinkle the shredded zucchini with a touch of salt, let it sit for a bit, and then squeeze out the excess moisture. The zucchini needs to be really dry before using in the recipe.
PRO TIP: I salt the zucchini and let it rest in a colander for 10-15 minutes, and then I get right in there with my hands and squeeze the zucchini dry so the excess liquid drains out the bottom of the colander into the sink.
- press the zucchini mixture firmly and evenly into the bottom of a greased pan.
- bake the zucchini layer until golden around the edges (while it bakes make the simple spaghetti sauce).
- spread the sauce over the zucchini layer.
- sprinkle with shredded mozzarella and bake until golden and bubbly.
A Note About the Crust
You can see that the zucchini crust in the baked casserole is not overwhelming; it’s fairly thin. The meat sauce provides most of the girth in this dish (with a good helping hand from the cheese)
I love the ratios of crust to sauce to cheese. But feel free to play around with amounts. The zucchini layer could easily be increased for a thicker layer. Same with the sauce.
You could also easily make this meatless (adding mushrooms in place of the meat would be delicious!).
A Very Worthy Casserole
My exuberance over this rather unassuming cheesy zucchini spaghetti casserole is unending. It is absolutely fantastic.
Before my garden was burgeoning with zucchini, I was buying zucchini in basket loads at the grocery store, even off-season, so I could make this recipe weekly (and also because I firmly believe in making zucchini bread year round).
In the eternal quest to find new ways to use up zucchini, this casserole ranks very, very high at the top of worthy endeavors. I hope you love it as much as we do!
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Cheesy Zucchini Spaghetti Recipe
Cheesy Zucchini Crust:
- 4 cups packed, shredded zucchini (about 3-4 small/medium zucchini) – see note
- ½ teaspoon salt
- 2 large eggs
- ½ cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese
- 1 cup shredded mozzarella cheese
Sauce + Cheese:
- 1 to 1 ½ pounds lean ground beef or ground turkey
- ½ cup finely chopped onion
- ½ teaspoon salt
- pinch black pepper
- 2 tablespoons tomato paste
- 1 teaspoon dried basil
- ½ teaspoon dried oregano
- 28-ounce can crushed tomatoes
- 1 cup shredded mozzarella cheese
Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F.
Place the zucchini in a colander set in the sink or on a plate and sprinkle with salt. Toss. Let the zucchini stand for 10-20 minutes.
Using your hands, get right in there in the colander and squeeze handfuls of shredded zucchini until the excess moisture is wrung out (basically, until it doesn’t drip like crazy when you squeeze handfuls together). You should have about 2 cups (345 grams) of shredded zucchini when you’re done.
Place the shredded zucchini in a medium bowl. Add the eggs, Parmesan and mozzarella cheeses and stir with a rubber spatula until well combined.
Lightly grease a 9X13-inch (or slightly smaller) baking dish with cooking spray.
Press the zucchini mixture firmly and evenly into the bottom of the prepared pan. Bake for 20 minutes.
While the zucchini bakes, heat a 12-inch nonstick skillet over medium heat and add the ground beef, onion, salt and pepper. Cook the ground beef, breaking into small pieces, until no longer pink. Drain excess grease.
Add the tomato paste, basil, and oregano. Stir and cook over medium heat for 30 seconds or so until sizzling. Stir in the crushed tomatoes and simmer for 5-6 minutes.
Remove the casserole from the oven. Pour the meat sauce over the top. Sprinkle with mozzarella cheese and return to the oven and bake for 15-20 minutes until bubbling.
Let rest for 5-10 minutes before serving.
Zucchini: I shred the zucchini for this recipe on the large holes of the box grater (or food processor shredding disc).
Serving: 1 serving, Calories: 315kcal, Carbohydrates: 14g, Protein: 34g, Fat: 14g, Saturated Fat: 8g, Cholesterol: 139mg, Sodium: 974mg, Fiber: 3g, Sugar: 9g
Recipe Source: adapted from a recipe sent to me by a reader, Savanna M (thank you!) by way of Taste of Home
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