Healthy Zucchini Manicotti

By: Renown Wellness Team

September 21, 2021

deconstructed zucchini manicotti dish

Often, when we think of Italian dishes, we think of pastaIn fact, there are more than 600 different pasta shapes, each holding the task of delivering Italy’s flavors

While we all crave pasta, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA), a cup of pasta shells contains about 166 calories, 6 grams of protein and 32 grams of carbohydrates. When you add all the other comforting ingredients that comes with cooking Italian, it’s nearly impossible to keep it healthy. 

Caitlin Bus, Registered Dietitian with the Renown Healthy Heart Program shares a healthier version of an Italian favorite deconstructed manicotti using zucchini as a substitute for noodles. If you’re looking for a healthier Italian dish and wondering how to use a spiralizer to turn vegetables into noodles, this recipe is for you

Healthy Zucchini Manicotti

  • Course: Dinner, Guilt-Free, Main Dish
  • Cuisine: Italian

  • Servings 3
  • Prep Time 10 mins
  • Cook Time 40 mins


For the sauce:
  • 1/2 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 large garlic clove, minced 
  • Pinch of red pepper flakes (optional)
  • 1/2 cup diced onion (yellow or red)
  • 1 (14.5 ounce) can diced tomatoes, no salt added
  • 5 basil leaves, chopped
For the filling:
  • 1/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese
  • 1 scant cup low fat ricotta cheese
  • 1/4 cup shredded reduced fat mozzarella cheese
  • 1 small egg
  • Cooking spray
  • 3 cups baby spinach
  • 2 zucchinis, spiralized
  • 2 tablespoons shredded mozzarella cheese, for topping


  1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees
  2. Slice the zucchini into thin, long pieces by using a spiralizer or alternative toollike a vegetable peeler (shown below).
  3. Place a large cast iron or nonstick skillet over medium heat and add ½ tablespoon of olive oil. When the oil is shimmering, add the garlic, red pepper flakes and onion. Cook for 2 to 3 minutes, or until the onion is translucent. Add the tomatoes and their juices, and stir. Increase the heat to medium-high and bring to a boil, then lower to a simmer. After 5 minutes, add the basil. Continue to simmer the sauce for 5 minutes more or until thickened. Set aside.
  4. In a large bowl, make the filling by combining the cheeses and egg. 
  5. Place a medium nonstick skillet over medium heat and coat with cooking spray. When some water flicked on the skillet sizzles, add the spinach and toss until wilted, about 2 minutes. Remove from the heat and fold into the cheese mixture.
  6. Assemble the manicotti. Reserve half of the sauce and spread the remaining sauce evenly on the bottom of the cast iron (or oven compatible) skillet. Place the zucchini noodles on top, then add the remaining sauce. Create two wells in the noodles and add the cheese filling. Sprinkle the mozzarella over the skillet and season with pepper. Cover with foil and bake for 20 to 25 minutes or until the zucchini noodles have softened and the cheese is melted. Serve hot.
Bonus: Want to make your own ricotta cheese? Here’s how with five simple ingredients and a food processor:
  • 1 block firm tofu, pressed
  • 1 cup slivered, balanced almonds
  • 2 tablespoons nutritional yeast
  • Dash of garlic power 
  • 2 tablespoons of lemon juice 
Add all the above ingredients to a food processor or high-speed blender and pulse until well combined. As needed, add 1 tablespoon of water at a time, but the final mixture should be thick, fluffy and slightly chunky!

Recipe Note

Nutritional Information:
Calories: 254
Serving Size: 2 cups
Fat: 12 grams
Carbohydrates: 21 grams
Dietary Fiber: 6 grams
Sodium: 408 mg
Protein: 20 grams
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