12 net carbs

Cauliflower baked ziti

Indulge in a savory twist on the beloved Italian classic with our low-carb cauliflower baked ziti—a deliciously wholesome dish featuring cauliflower, Italian sausage, marinara sauce, and a trio of cheeses.

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Cauliflower baked ziti

Low-carb Keto cauliflower baked ziti on a dinner plate ready to eat.

Low-carb cauliflower baked ziti [Keto]

Total Diabetes Wellness
Welcome to a savory twist on a classic Italian favorite: low-carb cauliflower baked ziti. This delicious recipe offers a healthier alternative to traditional pasta dishes without compromising on flavor. Tender cauliflower florets are roasted to perfection and layered with Italian sausage, marinara sauce, and three types of cheese. Each bite is a blend of ricotta, Parmesan, and gooey mozzarella cheeses, creating a comforting dish that's as satisfying as it is wholesome. Whether you're following a low-carb lifestyle or simply looking to add more veggies to your diet, this cauliflower baked ziti is sure to become a family favorite.
Prep Time 10 minutes
Cook Time 50 minutes
Total Time 1 hour
Course Lunch and Dinner
Cuisine Italian
Servings 8 servings
Net Carbs 12 g
*Net carbs are per serving

Ingredients
 

  • pounds cauliflower florets, cut into bite-size pieces
  • ¼ cup olive oil
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • ¼ teaspoon black pepper
  • olive oil sprayer
  • 1 pound Italian sausage, ground
  • 4 cloves garlic, minced
  • cups marinara sauce
  • 2 teaspoons Italian seasoning
  • cups ricotta cheese
  • cups Parmesan cheese, shredded
  • cups mozzarella cheese, shredded

Instructions
 

Roasted cauliflower

  • Preheat your oven to 425F/220C. Line a large baking sheet with parchment paper.
    Close-up view of temperature knob on an oven, preheat oven to cook a meal.
  • In a large bowl, mix the cauliflower, olive oil, salt, and black pepper. Stir until well combined.
    Top view of mixing cauliflower florets in a bowl with olive oil, salt, and pepper.
  • Transfer the cauliflower onto the baking sheet, in a single layer. Bake in the oven for 20-25 minutes, until lightly browned.
    Top view of cauliflower florets on a baking sheet ready to roast in the oven.

Marinara with sausage

  • While the cauliflower bakes, heat it in a large skillet over medium heat. Once the skillet is hot, spritz with olive oil.
    Top view of a hot skillet with oil.
  • Add the sausage and cook for 8-10 minutes, breaking the meat up with a spatula or wooden spoon. Add the garlic about halfway through. Cook until the meat is no longer pink.
    Top view of Italian sausage cooking in a skillet.
  • Add the marinara sauce and Italian seasoning. Simmer for 2-3 minutes until the sauce is bubbling.
    Top view of Italian sausage, seasoning, and marinara sauce cooking in a skillet.

Assembling the ziti

  • Once the cauliflower has finished roasting, reduce the oven to 400F/200C.
    Close-up view of temperature knob on an oven, preheat oven to cook a meal.
  • In a large casserole dish, layer half of the cauliflower evenly across the bottom. Dollop half of the ricotta cheese on the cauliflower and use a large spoon to spread the cheese. Sprinkle half of the Parmesan cheese on top. Next, add half of the sausage marinara and top with half of the mozzarella cheese. Repeat the layers a second time, using up the rest of the ingredients.
    Top view of assembling the low-carb cauliflower baked ziti casserole.
  • Bake for 10-15 minutes until the cheese is melted and golden. Enjoy!
    Top view of low-carb cauliflower baked ziti out of the oven after baking with cheese melted and lightly browned.

Nutrition

 

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Keywords Keto bake ziti, keto italian casserole, Low-carb baked ziti, low-carb italian casserole
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Photos of Low-Carb Cauliflower Baked Ziti

Notes

Cauliflower

While we love the rich flavor that roasting cauliflower in the oven brings, there are plenty of other ways to cook cauliflower.

  • Steaming: Steam cauliflower florets in a steamer basket over boiling water for 5-7 minutes until tender but still slightly crisp.
  • Sautéing: Heat a tablespoon of olive oil or butter in a skillet over medium heat. Add cauliflower florets and cook, stirring occasionally, for 5-7 minutes until lightly browned and tender.
  • Boiling: Bring a pot of salted water to a boil and add cauliflower florets. Cook for 5-7 minutes until fork-tender, then drain well. *Be careful not to overcook.
  • Microwaving: Place cauliflower florets in a microwave-safe dish with a couple of tablespoons of water. Cover with a microwave-safe lid or microwave-safe plastic wrap and cook on high for 3-5 minutes until tender.
  • Grilling: Cut cauliflower into thick slices or wedges, brush with olive oil, and season with salt, pepper, and your favorite herbs or spices. Grill over medium-high heat for 8-10 minutes per side until charred and tender.

Italian sausage

Make sure to check the ingredients of your Italian sausage for sugar, as some brands include quite a bit of sugar in their ground sausage.

Marinara sauce

Our favorite brand of marinara sauce to use is Rao’s Marinara Sauce. The sauce tastes delicious and is lower in carbs than many other brands. Make sure whichever brand you select doesn’t have any added sugar.

Frequently Asked Questions

Is this low-carb cauliflower baked ziti recipe Keto?

Yes, we consider our cauliflower baked ziti recipe Keto. One serving has 12 grams of net carbs. We consider a main dish Keto if it has 12 net carbs or less per serving, as this still allows room for other meals throughout the day. If you are following a strict Keto diet of 20 net carbs per day, make sure you pay attention to portion size since their recipe is on the higher side of carbs for a Keto diet.

Is this recipe gluten-free?

Yes, our low-carb cauliflower baked ziti is gluten-free.

Storage and Reheating Guidelines

  • Make-ahead: Prepare components in advance: Roast cauliflower and cook sausage marinara sauce separately, storing in airtight containers in the fridge for up to 2 days. Assemble and bake when ready.
  • Storing leftovers: Keep leftovers in an airtight container in the fridge for up to 3 days.
  • Freezing instructions: Wrap the cooled dish tightly in plastic wrap or transfer to freezer-safe containers. Label and freeze for up to 3 months.
  • To reheat: Microwave individual servings for 2-3 minutes or bake covered at 350°F (175°C) for 20-25 minutes until heated through.

Additional Details

Our low-carb cauliflower baked ziti is a comforting dish that offers a nutritious twist on the classic Italian favorite, providing a flavorful alternative that’s not only delicious but also fits into a low-carb lifestyle.

The origins of baked ziti trace back to Italy, where it has long been cherished as a hearty comfort food. Traditionally made with pasta, cheese, and marinara sauce, this dish has undergone various adaptations over the years. In recent times, with the growing emphasis on healthier eating habits, people have been looking for alternative ingredients to lighten up classic recipes. Thus, the idea of substituting cauliflower for pasta in baked ziti was born, offering a lower-carb option without sacrificing taste or satisfaction.

Details about ingredients

  • Cauliflower: Low in carbs and rich in essential vitamins like C, K, and folate, cauliflower offers a nutritious base. Its high fiber content aids digestion and helps regulate blood sugar levels, making it ideal for diabetes management. Cauliflower also boasts antioxidants that may reduce inflammation and lower chronic disease risk.
  • Italian sausage: Look for options without added sugars or fillers to keep carbs in check.
  • Marinara sauce: Made from tomatoes, herbs, and spices, marinara provides a flavorful tomato base. Tomatoes are rich in lycopene, an antioxidant with anti-inflammatory properties. They also pack vitamins A and C, plus potassium for heart health.
  • Ricotta, Parmesan, and mozzarella cheeses: These cheeses add creamy texture and essential nutrients. Ricotta is high in protein and calcium for bone health. Parmesan offers calcium and phosphorus while enhancing flavor. Mozzarella is lower in sodium and provides calcium and protein for a nutritious boost.

Variations

  • Veggie lovers: For a meatless option bursting with flavor, skip the Italian sausage and load up on colorful veggies instead. Try sautéed mushrooms, bell peppers, onions, and spinach for a deliciously wholesome twist.
  • Chicken Florentine: Swap out the Italian sausage for grilled or roasted chicken breast strips. Layer the chicken on top of the cauliflower, marinara, and cheeses, then add a generous handful of fresh spinach leaves for a protein-packed, veggie-filled delight.
  • Seafood: Instead of Italian sausage, try mixing in cooked shrimp, crabmeat, or chunks of flaky white fish for a taste of the ocean. Pair with a squeeze of lemon juice and a sprinkle of fresh parsley for a burst of freshness.
  • Mediterranean: Replace the Italian sausage with ground lamb or turkey seasoned with Mediterranean spices like oregano, cumin, and paprika. Add diced tomatoes, olives, and feta cheese for a flavorful Mediterranean twist.
  • Vegan: For a plant-based option, omit the meat and dairy entirely. Substitute vegan sausage or crumbled tofu seasoned with Italian herbs for protein. Use dairy-free ricotta, Parmesan, and mozzarella alternatives, or make your own cashew-based cheese sauce for a creamy, dairy-free indulgence.

Serving pairings

  • Green salad: Serve alongside a salad dressed with your favorite dressing for a refreshing contrast.
  • Roasted vegetables: Pair with roasted broccoli, zucchini, or asparagus for added fiber and vitamins.

Benefits for people with diabetes

For individuals managing diabetes, incorporating low-carb recipes like cauliflower baked ziti into their meal plans can offer numerous benefits. By reducing the carbohydrate content and replacing pasta with cauliflower, this dish helps to minimize blood sugar spikes and promote better glucose management. Additionally, the fiber-rich cauliflower and protein-packed sausage contribute to increased satiety, helping you feel full and satisfied for longer.

Tips

To ensure the success of your low-carb cauliflower baked ziti, here are a few helpful tips:

  • Be sure to cut the cauliflower into uniform bite-size pieces to ensure even cooking.
  • When roasting the cauliflower, spread it out in a single layer on the baking sheet to promote caramelization and prevent overcrowding.
  • Experiment with different herbs and spices to customize the flavor profile of the dish to your liking.
  • Leftovers can be stored in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to three days or frozen for longer-term storage. Simply reheat in the oven or microwave for a quick and convenient meal option.

Our low-carb cauliflower baked ziti offers a deliciously wholesome option for individuals looking to enjoy the flavors of a classic Italian favorite while supporting their health and wellness goals, particularly for those managing diabetes. With its simple yet satisfying combination of ingredients and easy preparation, this recipe is sure to become a staple in your meal rotation. So go ahead, indulge in a guilt-free dinner that’s as nourishing as it is delicious!

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