Deconstructed Manicotti Skillet with Zucchini Noodles

gluten freevegetarian

Deconstructed Manicotti "Skillet" with Zucchini Noodles-

I remember how excited I was to move in with Lu back in January 2013. I was obviously excited because I was getting to move in with my best friend, but I was more excited to be able to cook for two, not one.

Everyone knows that cooking for one is pretty anticlimactic. You don’t get to share your opinions on what you just ate or sit and really have a proper meal. Whenever I cook for only myself, I rarely sit down at a table and enjoy my meal – I’m usually working on something, watching TV, or multitasking, taking bites as I pass by.

Today’s dish is the ultimate party for two – a healthier, deconstructed manicotti (using zucchini noodles!)

Deconstructed Manicotti "Skillet" with Zucchini Noodles-

When Lu and I got back from spending Mother’s Day with my family, we were exhausted and couldn’t be bothered with making dinner. Luckily, I still had leftovers in the fridge from this manicotti.

We heated it up for a few minutes and dug in. Lu’s words? “This is your best meal yet!” You should have seen us – standing over a bowl of this zucchini noodle manicotti, practically yanking the bowl out of each other’s hands each time one of us took a bite.

Traditionally, manicotti is a type of noodle that’s made hollow so that you can fill it with something delicious. In this case, the stuffing is spinach, mozzarella, parmesan cheese, ricotta and an egg. The egg helps fluff up the mixture, but you can leave it out.

Deconstructed Manicotti "Skillet" with Zucchini Noodles-

By replacing the manicotti with zucchini noodles, you’re saving yourself hundreds of calories, dozens of carbs and eliminating processed wheat. Therefore, this manicotti is completely gluten-free.

You’d think that the zucchini noodles would become too watery here, but that doesn’t happen at all – they soften to the perfect al dente consistency without any excess moisture.

Deconstructed Manicotti "Skillet" with Zucchini Noodles-

The tomato sauce here is made with basil, which gives the manicotti an extra freshness that plays well with the summer zucchini. After you’ve laid down your layers of zucchini and tomato sauce, you’re ready for the best part: two large dollops of the “stuffing”! If you’d like to give the dish a bit more heartiness, you can add meat to the tomato sauce for a beef manicotti.

Since we’ve “deconstructed” the manicotti, make sure you place a dollop to the right and to the left, so that serving is easier. A nice cast-iron skillet is great for presentation but also great for transferring from the stovetop to the oven.

Deconstructed Manicotti "Skillet" with Zucchini Noodles-

Treat a friend or your boyfriend/girlfriend/fiancee/husband/wife to this skillet this week – crack open a bottle of wine and cheers to eating a healthier version of a classic Italian comfort dish.

How often do you have sit down dinners with your family or friends?


Deconstructed Manicotti "Skillet" with Zucchini Noodles-

Deconstructed Manicotti Skillet with Zucchini Noodles

Yields 2

10 minPrep Time

40 minCook Time

50 minTotal Time

Save RecipeSave Recipe


  • 1/2 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 large garlic clove, minced
  • pinch of red pepper flakes
  • 1/2 cup diced red onion
  • 1 14oz can diced tomatoes, no salt added
  • salt and pepper, to taste
  • 5 basil leaves, chopped
  • 3 cups baby spinach
  • 2 zucchinis, Blade A
  • 2 tbsp shredded mozzarella cheese
  • For the filling:
  • 1/4 cup parmesan cheese
  • 7.5oz of ricotta cheese
  • 1/4 cup shredded mozzarella cheese
  • 1 small egg


  1. Preheat the oven to 375 degrees.
  2. Place a large castiron or nonstick skillet over medium heat and add in the olive oil. Add in the garlic, red pepper flakes and onions and cook for 2-3 minutes or until onions are translucent.
  3. Add in the canned tomatoes and season with salt and pepper. Stir and let cook for 10 minutes or until your sauce is reduced fully. Five minutes in, add the basil.
  4. While the sauce is cooking, mix together all of the ingredients for the "filling." Season with salt and pepper. Set aside.
  5. Then, place a large skillet over medium heat and coat with cooking spray. Once the skillet heats, add in your baby spinach and toss until wilted. Fold the spinach into the cheese mixture and set aside.
  6. When the sauce is done cooking, remove half of the sauce and set aside. Make sure that the sauce is spread evenly on the bottom of the skillet and then top with the zucchini noodles. Top with the remaining sauce.
  7. Next, make two pockets in the zucchini noodles on either side of the skillet and fill each with a dollop of the cheese "filling." Sprinkle over the skillet with the 2 tbsp of mozzarella. Season the top of the skillet with pepper.
  8. Cover the skillet with tin foil and bake for 20-25 minutes or until the noodles soften and the cheese is completely melted.
  9. Serve for two!

Deconstructed Manicotti "Skillet" with Zucchini Noodles-

Deconstructed Manicotti "Skillet" with Zucchini Noodles-

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Leave a Comment


Joanne says:
I feel like this is the perfect summer version of manicotti! I mean, if we're being honest, I really only love it for the cheese. So...this is ideal.
This looks divine and perfect to try out this Summer!
This looks amazing. Totally printing it out and adding it to my big stack of your recipes to try!!
This looks really delicious. I've done something similar before with eggplant (eggplant involtini), but I'm stoked to give it a try with zucchini. I bet it would also be tasty with a touch of lemon zest too. Yum - you always have such great ideas and you've made me use my spiralizer SO much more than I used to!
Penny says:
Any suggestions for what to use instead of ricotta cheese? My husband will not eat ricotta cheese or cottage cheese. We also practice a low carb diet so that is something I always look for in recipes. Thank you.
Alison Moy says:
Just put it in and tell him it's Greek yoghurt or something! Actually, that's an idea - Fage zero is so creamy and wonderful, and you can bake yoghurt!
Alison Moy says:
Yum yum, another one I will be trying soon...but maybe with low fat ricotta to get the calories down, assuming you can get it in Texas!
Felicity says:
Yum. I can't wait to try this one. Definitely on the menu for next week. I made your pad thai over the weekend and my husband and I both enjoyed it.
Chrissie says:
Oh my god, tomorrow's dinner has just happened to magically appear to my inbox. thank you!!!
Cathryn says:
I made this last night and it was delicious!!!! Thanks for the great recipe!
Nancy says:
How much of the red pepper flakes so we add? I don't see it listed in the ingredient list.
Alicia says:
Our's turned out watery. Do you find the larger zucchini are less watery when cooked? It was still yummy, just messy. We aren't that picky though.
Did you cover it with tinfoil? Perhaps lower the heat, some ovens are different!
Alicia says:
I made this last night and absolutely loved it! I sort of spread the cheese mixture over the top of the zucchini instead of doing dollops, so it ended up having a nicely melted, lightly browned "crust" over the whole thing. Delicious flavors!
Carr says:
I JUST HAVE TO SAY...WOW! I made this the other night and while my boyfriend expected me to to make something with my spiralizer (I seem to be somewhat obsessed since I got it) he continues to insist that he doesn't like zucchini. When he tucked into a bowl of the "manicotti", he got a blissful look on his face, and then exclaimed, "this is fantastic!" I should have doubled the recipe. I cant wait to make this again. Thank you for coming up with this.
Aw, that's fantastic! I'm so happy to hear that! Glad you liked the recipe.
Teresa Lohan says:
just made a version of this and it turned out really good. I didn't have ricotta so it turned out being more like a tossed lasagna.... Or maybe upside down... and I didn't want to turn on the oven so I did it all in the pan on the stove top. And that work out just fine. Thanks for the inspiration
Ashley says:
Drooled over this recipe when it came out on the blog, just making it now. I soooo should have made it sooner! Only me eating it, but that's ok, because it means I get to enjoy it for lunch tomorrow! I agree with Lu, best yet!
Angela says:
Just made this and YUM! It was so good. The fresh basil with the tomatoes and cheese was a great mix of flavors. Very cheesy & gooey. I'll definitely be making this again soon.
Maria says:
I actually picked this recipe from Ali's cookbook and made it today. This is meatless Friday for us Catholics and well this just fit the bill today. Absolutely delicious! I also doubled up the recipe simply because all of the ingredients sounded great. Mine also came out watery - but didn't mind because I spoiled the whole healthy concept by serving it with garlic cheese bread. Oh my I just couldn't let that wonderful sauce go to waste - the bread just sucked it up. IT WAS WORTH IT.
Zee says:
I made this and substituted the cheese for chickpea and cashew cheese I made at home. I did keep the egg and the Parmesan. SOOOOO GOOD!!!
I made this for dinner tonight. I didn't have ricotta so I mixed some sour cream with the parm cheese. We also added spicy crumbled Italian sausage because my boyfriend can't live without it! It was delicious. Was a tad watery but we didn't care at all!!!
Chelsey Mutrie says:
This is a great recipe!! I made this tonight, as a double batch, so I put it in corningware to bake. I checked it at 25 minutes and felt like the zoodles were too crisp still, so I added more time. Then when we put into it, it was very watery. The flavored are all there, just wondering what I should have done differently. Thanks!
Mo says:
Just made this tonight! Delicious!
Leah says:
Wondering if anyone could give me some direction on how to make zucchini noodles like this? I see "Blade A" listed but I am not sure what tool was used.
zapnear says:
Made this earlier, must admit it didn't turn out looking as good as yours :( but it was absolutely delicious, thanks for the recipe!
Jayn says:
This might be my favorite spiralized recipe so far. We have made it many times. It's great with fresh tomatoes in season. We often add turkey meatballs. Definitely a keeper.
Anonymous says:
I made this for dinner tonight using my kitchen aid spiralizer. This was a fabulous meal. I also used fire roasted tomatoes as these are my favorite. SO, so good!
Carly Glazer says:
Yum! Sounds delicious!
Anonymous says:
So excited to try this out.
Carly Glazer says:
Yes! Let us know how it turns out!

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