Keto Stuffed Zucchini with Venison, Ricotta & Spinach are a busy moms secret weapon to conquering a busy weeknight meal. No one will ever know you only dirtied one pan for this stunning meal! A one pan wonder at its best!
Lately I have been in the mood for lasagna…ooey, gooey, cheesy, savory, meaty, soul-satisfying lasagna….it is truly one of the best comfort foods. It is one of my all time favorite Italian dishes, but since pasta is definitely not low carb or keto, I have resisted the urge to layer up this Italian favorite. I have made versions of lasagna with slices of zucchini, squash and eggplant in place of the pasta and it’s delish…but its also a little more effort than I wanted to put into a weeknight dinner. I needed to come up with something simple, but impressive will all of the yumminess of lasagna.
So, when the girls and I were at the grocery store for our weekly trip and I saw these big, fat zucchinis I knew just what to do…stuff them with all the yummy, cheesy lasagna goodness that I love! So that is just what I did and these gorgeous keto Stuffed Zucchini with Venison, Ricotta & Spinach were born!
This meal is simple enough for a weeknight meal but still impresses! I would not hesitate to make this for a dinner party or company on a Saturday night. Usually when I hear the word “stuffed”, I think it will take me twice as long…and on a busy weeknight I just don’t have time for extra steps! These stuffed zucchini take no time at all. The zucchini are a snap to make into stuff-able little boats and the meaty filling cooks up in the time that the zucchinis are hanging out in the oven to start getting tender.
When making the filling for the zucchini, I knew I didn’t want it saucy like a traditional spaghetti sauce, so I opted to just use diced tomatoes in the filling. I made two versions of these to test…one with ricotta and one without. You see, the Cowboy does not typically care for lasagna because of the ricotta. He says it can get “gritty” and he just doesn’t like the texture. So I left the ricotta out of a few to see which he liked the best.
Well when he came home they were just coming out of the oven in all their glory…beautiful! Isn’t it amazing how when food looks so pretty you are that much more excited to eat it?!
Hands down the verdict was the ricotta makes this dish! Both the Cowboy and the kids agreed…10 out of 10!
This dish has few ingredients so you want to use the best ingredients you can…don’t skimp on the quality of the ricotta because it will make all the difference in the dish! I use BelGioioso Ricotta con Latte whole milk ricotta. It is the best I have found and my favorite for using in sweet and savory dishes. It’s a great keto staple to have on hand! I have used it in a sweet filling for my favorite cream cheese pancakes and it’s incredible! It is soft and super creamy with a slightly sweet finish and its very affordable.
These gorgeous zucchini will satisfy every craving you have for lasagna and without all that pasta getting in the way of that decadent, creamy cheese and meat filling. I even managed to sneak some spinach in the filling for good measure!
I used ground venison in the filling for these stuffed zucchini and it worked perfectly. Despite that you may think, ground venison can be used in a lot more than just chili! We love using venison in recipes… it’s leaner than beef and has a mild flavor that I love paired with the ricotta and tomato. The filling for these stuffed zucchini would be fantastic with sweet or hot Italian Sausage in place of half the ground meat or you could use any type of ground meat you have on hand…even veggie crumbles to make it a vegetarian dish. The amounts here will easily fill 4 large zucchini split lengthwise into 8 halves.
To hollow out the zucchini, simply use a small spoon or melon baller to remove seeds.
Stuffed Zucchini with Venison, Ricotta & Spinach will satisfy every craving you have for lasagna without all the pasta getting in the way of that decadent, creamy cheese and meat filling. Quick enough for a week night low carb meal or to impress guests! Keto friendly and gluten free!
These stuffed zucchini satisfy every craving I have for lasagna without all the pasta getting in the way of that decadent, creamy cheese and meat filling. Quick enough for a week night meal or to impress guests
- 4 large zucchini
- 3 Tbsp. olive oil
- 1 medium purple onion chopped
- 4 cloves garlic minced
- 1 lb ground venison bison, beef, turkey, pork or veggie crumbles
- 1 14.5 oz. can diced tomatoes with garlic & basil
- 1/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese
- 1/4 tsp. dried basil
- 1/2 cup whole milk Ricotta con Latte
- 1 1/4 cup finely shredded mozzarella or provolone
- 11/2 cups fresh baby spinach
- 1/4 tsp. dried Italian seasoning
- salt and pepper
- Fresh Basil for garnish (optional
Preheat oven to 425 degrees. Halve zucchini lengthwise and using a spoon scoop out the seeds and flesh leaving about 1/4 inch border. Place zucchini cute side up on a parchment lines baking sheet. Lightly rub or brush the zucchini with 1 tablespoon of olive oil and sprinkle lightly with salt and pepper.
Place zucchini in oven and roast until tender, 8-10 minutes.
While zucchini is in the oven, heat 2 tablespoons of olive oil in a large pan over medium high heat. When oil is shimmering add onion. Cook for 3-4 minutes. Add garlic and cook for another 30 seconds. Add ground meat, 1 teaspoon of salt and 1/2 teaspoon of pepper to pan with onions. Continue to cook until meat is browned are caramelized.
When meat is brown and yummy, add diced tomatoes, basil and Italian seasoning. Continue to cook for 3-4 more minutes.
Remove meat filling from heat and add Parmesan cheese, ricotta, 3/4 cup of mozzarella and spinach. Mix gently to combine. Season with salt and pepper as needed.
STEP 6 Spoon filling generously into zucchini. Sprinkle with remaining 1/2 cup of mozzarella and return to oven to bake for an additional 8-10 minutes or until cheese is melted.
STEP 7 Garnish with fresh basil and enjoy!