Broken Meatball Lasagna Recipe


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Oct 16, 2023

Broken Meatball Lasagna Recipe

By Shilpa Uskokovic 4.3 (27) Lasagna doesn’t always have to be a gut bomb in a

By Shilpa Uskokovic



Lasagna doesn't always have to be a gut bomb in a casserole dish. This lighter, brighter version shatters the mold and sheds the layers with ground chicken, zucchini, and lots of lemon and herbs. Peeling the zucchini and grating it on the small holes of a box grater ensures that it melts away into the meatballs as they cook, leaving them tender and juicy. Making meatballs, browning them, and then breaking them apart feels counterintuitive, but it's an easy, efficient way to get deep brown color and the accompanying rich flavor without overcooking the meat. The meatball mixture will be loose and slump as it cooks—that's okay! Perfection is not the goal here. Shards of regular—rather than no-boil—lasagna noodles are essential in this pursuit of pasta freedom.

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4 servings
















Using a sturdy wooden spoon or rubber spatula, vigorously stir 1 large zucchini (about 12 oz.), peeled, finely grated (about 1½ cups), 1½ cups panko, 1 tsp. dried oregano, 1 tsp. garlic powder, 1 tsp. paprika, 1 Tbsp. extra-virgin olive oil, and 2 tsp. Diamond Crystal or 1¼ tsp. kosher salt in a large bowl until combined and nearly paste-like. Add 1 lb. ground chicken, ½ cup finely chopped dill, and ½ cup finely chopped parsley and mix until fully incorporated (you don't need to worry about overmixing here; mixture will be soft).

Heat 1 Tbsp. extra-virgin olive oil in a large Dutch oven or other heavy pot over medium-high. Using a #16 cookie scoop (about ¼ cup), portion out half of meat mixture (meatballs don't need to be perfectly round; rustic-looking is good) and add directly to pot. Cook, undisturbed, until well browned underneath, 5–8 minutes. Carefully turn meatballs over and cook until second side is golden brown, 5–8 minutes (it's okay if meatballs still look misshapen). Using a slotted spoon, transfer to a large plate. Pour 1 Tbsp. extra-virgin olive oil into pot and repeat process with remaining meat mixture.

Return all meatballs to pot, then add one 28-oz. can whole, peeled tomatoes, lightly crushing with your hands as you go, 1 large shallot, thinly sliced, and remaining 3 Tbsp. extra-virgin olive oil; season with salt. Reduce heat to medium, cover pot, and cook meatballs and sauce, gently stirring occasionally (it's okay if meatballs start to fall apart), until sauce is slightly thickened, 15–20 minutes.

Meanwhile, whisk together 8 oz. fresh ricotta, 1 tsp. finely grated lemon zest, and a large pinch of salt in small bowl until smooth; set lemony ricotta aside.

Cook 10 oz. lasagna noodles, broken into 2–3 pieces, in large pot of boiling salted water, stirring occasionally, until just shy of al dente.

Using tongs, drop noodles into pot with sauce and cook, stirring gently, until sauce coats pasta.

Divide pasta among shallow bowls and spoon dollops of reserved lemony ricotta over each. Top with two 3x2" strips lemon zest, thinly sliced, finely chopped dill, and grated Parmesan.

Do ahead: Meatballs and sauce can be made 3 days ahead; let cool. Transfer to an airtight container; cover and chill. Lemony ricotta can be made 1 day ahead. Cover and chill.

How would you rate Broken Meatball Lasagna?

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This was not the deconstructed lasagna I was hoping for. The dill didn't add to the Italian base of the meal. And it was bland. I tried using parmesan cheese to make it taste better but even that didn't help. Not sure how to improve this. Won't be making it again.


Alexandria, VA


This was outrageous!!! Here are some suggestions. More noodles, mediumish zucchini shredding, no dill, lots of spices that you like! Like parsley, Italian seasoning, garlic pepper, use more tomatoes, and a half o cup of pasta water, get good whole tomatoes, don't cheap out. You can choose between locatelli and ricotta, depends on your taste. Let it sit, let it sit, don't eat it yet, let it sit. Then enjoy….it's ridiculously good!


Brooklyn, NY


This was delicious, but I had to modify the recipe slightly. My zucchini-panko mixture didn't come together since I used the large side of the box grater. So I threw it into the food processor, and that saved it. I also added parm-regg to the meatball mixture and only used 1/2 the amount of fresh dill. I also deglazed the pan with red wine before adding the tomato - and I also added an additional 15 oz can of crushed. With those slight changes, it came out well.


Los Angeles, CA


We thought this recipe was delicious! I grated zucchini on the largest holes of my box grater so the mixture did not get super wet or paste-like. Meatballs stayed together well so I broke them up in the sauce. My one peeve about this recipe is the 10 oz of noodles. I don't understand recipes that don't use the whole 16 oz box of noodles. I added an extra 15 oz can of diced tomatoes so that it would be saucy enough and used the whole box of noodles. I wish I would have used any noodle besides lasagna noodles… my husband and I weren't fans of broken lasagna noodles in this recipe. I also only used about a quarter cup of dill in the meatballs and that was the perfect amount of dill flavor. I’d definitely make it again!


Minneapolis, MN


I'm really surprised by the reviews on this dish. It was terrible. The meatballs, made precisely to specification, were pasty and inedible. I ended up throwing it out. It's very unusual when I won't eat a meatball! The general flavors were interesting, albeit a little heavy on the dill. Couldn't taste the zucchini, although why would you. The meatball is the focal point and the texture was disgusting. I've never had a pure failure in the nearly 30 years I've been cooking "with" Bon Appetit. Very disappointing.


Boise ID


Took a 1/4 of the time of regular lasagna and was light and fresh - loved the hint of lemon. Keeping it in the rotation!




Not one of my three zucchini hating family members had any inkling it was in this dish. It was a hit! I could not find fresh dill so I subbed in 1 tsp. dried dill and it complimented the dish without overwhelming it.

Cooking Katie

New York


This was phenomenal. I did use less dill, and I added a bit of red wine and cooked it off with the shallots before adding back the meatballs and the sauce. Definitely will make this again, lighter and more complex than traditional lasagna.




This recipe was absolutely fantastic. I made it for my whole family and everyone was blown away!! Thank you bon appétit for writing this recipe


Almeria, ESP


We made this per instructions but used Rao's tomato sauce in lieu of the canned tomatoes and olive oil. The sauce, pasta, and ricotta mixture were delicious. Unfortunately, the dill flavor was too overwhelming in the meatballs. Otherwise, they were a great consistency and texture and I love getting veggies in my meatballs. I would make this again with a big reduction in the amount of dill or remove it altogether.


Burlingame, CA


1 large zucchini (about 12 oz.), peeled, finely grated (about 1½ cups) 1½ cups panko 1 tsp. dried oregano 1 tsp. garlic powder 1 tsp. paprika 1 Tbsp. extra-virgin olive oil 2 tsp. Diamond Crystal or 1¼ tsp. kosher salt 1 lb. ground chicken ½ cup finely chopped dill ½ cup finely chopped parsley 1 Tbsp. extra-virgin olive oil 1 Tbsp. extra-virgin olive oil one 28-oz. can whole, peeled tomatoes 1 large shallot, thinly sliced 3 Tbsp. extra-virgin olive oil 8 oz. fresh ricotta 1 tsp. finely grated lemon zest large pinch of salt 10 oz. lasagna noodles, broken into 2–3 pieces two 3x2" strips lemon zest, thinly sliced finely chopped dill grated Parmesan Do ahead: Sign In Subscribe