Sunday, August 21

Zucchini Lasagna

This summer we planted zucchini in our garden for the very first time.  The plant started off so small that I didn’t think it would produce anything.  But within a few weeks, the plant became so large you would have thought it was on steroids.  Pretty soon we had quite large zucchini and that’s when I began searching for recipes on my favorite cooking sites.  I’ve made roasted zucchini a few times but I wanted to try something new.  I’ve never made zucchini bread, so yes that’s in the works,  but I wanted to make something beyond the traditional bread.  That’s when I came across this recipe for zucchini lasagna.  It’s a healthy recipe that uses zucchini instead of noodles.  

Our zucchini!

If you prefer to make your own sauce, you can follow the original recipe by clicking on the link below.  I’ve made my own sauce before and it’s definitely worth the extra effort, however my goal this time was to make a dish that wouldn’t take forever on a week night.  That’s why I chose to modify the recipe and use jarred pasta sauce instead.  I’ve learned that you can spruce up pasta sauce from the grocery store quite easily and make it taste ‘homemade’.    To create this taste, I add onion and fresh mushrooms to develop a thick, hearty sauce.  Adding fresh basil and garlic is always a nice touch as well.  And if you really want to intensify the flavors, prepare the sauce a day ahead of time (allowing sauce to simmer for 45 minutes before refrigerating).  Think about it, doesn’t lasagna always seem to taste even better the next day?   That’s because the sauce has been sitting and the flavors have reached their true potential!

Brown the meat & onions

Mix fresh basil & mushrooms into the sauce
After the sauce is made, really all that’s left is to prepare the zucchini.  Chop the ends off so it’s easier to work with and use a vegetable peeler for removing the skin on the sides.  I found it very tricky to slice the zucchini to a ¼ thick as stated in the recipe.  Actually I found this nearly impossible.  The zucchini is awkward to hold since one end is larger than the other.  There were a few times I was afraid I might cut myself.  Because of this, my slices were about ½ inch thick.  The extra thickness seemed to cook just as well, however next time I may slice the zucchini into circles vs. long noodles.  Using this technique would make working with the zucchini easier and allow for the pieces to be sliced thinner.  The pieces would then be layered on the bottom of the pan to create one full sheet.  

The 'noodles'

Bottom layer
I have a FABULOUS traditional lasagna recipe that both my husband and I LOVE (to be featured in my blog this Fall).  I’m not joking when I say that he compliments me many times throughout the year how great it is and whenever he orders lasagna at a restaurant he makes sure to point out that it doesn’t even compare to mine.  So we both knew before we tasted this lasagna that it would not be the same caliber as my other recipe.  We were keeping an open mind, however, as that wouldn’t be comparing apples to apples.  This is a healthier lasagna and unique in its own way since noodles are not used.  For the type of lasagna that it is we both thought it was good.  You would think that maybe this dish wouldn’t be filling, since zucchini is used, but it’s actually quite filling.  In the end I didn’t miss having the noodles.  The zucchini was a nice substitution and a great way to use the vegetables from our garden.

Zucchini Lasagna
Serves : 4
Prep Time: 20 mins.
Total Time: 50 mins.

  • 2 large zucchini, sliced ¼ inch thick
  • 1 lb. lean ground beef
  • 2 cups onion, chopped
  • 1/2 cup fresh mushrooms, chopped
  • 1 teaspoon minced garlic
  • 1 teaspoon fresh basil
  • 1 egg          
  • 1 teaspoon flour
  • 1 jar spaghetti sauce (approximately 2 ¼ cups)
  • 3/4 cup ricotta cheese
  • 1/2 cup shredded mozzarella cheese

  1. Pre-heat oven to 375˚F.
  2. Chop off both ends of the zucchini.  Using a vegetable peeler, remove the skin from the sides.  Slice zucchini (lengthwise) into noodles about 1/4 inch thick. 
  3. Boil water in a large pot.   Add zucchini slices and cook for approximately 3-5 minutes, or until tender. Drain. 
  4. Fry the meat with the onions until thoroughly cooked; drain fat.
  5. In a large skillet add the meat mixture.  Next, add the pasta sauce while simmering over low heat.  Also add in the basil and garlic.
  6. In small bowl slightly beat the egg. 
  7. Add the ricotta cheese, half of the mozzarella cheese, and flour.
  8. In a 1 ½ to 2 qt. baking dish cover the bottom of the pan with half of the meat mixture. Next, top with half of the zucchini and all the ricotta cheese mixture. Lastly, top with the remaining meat and zucchini.
  9. Bake uncovered for 30 minutes.
  10. Sprinkle with remaining cheese. Bake 10 minutes longer.
  11. Let stand 10 minutes before serving.
Note: See tip above on preparing pasta sauce a day ahead of time (optional)

No comments:

Post a Comment

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...