December 5, 2011

No Noodle Zucchini Lasagna

My husband doesn't like zucchini. I don't understand this.

I can understand not liking some other vegetables. Eggplant, for example, can be bitter, with a tough peel. Okra can be slimy. Cabbage has a strong smell. Brussels sprouts can be an acquired taste.

But zucchini? What's not to like?  

Zucchini is so mild and non-threatening. At worst, it melts down into nothing and doesn't interfere with the taste of a dish. At best, it provides delicate flavor and texture, taking on the flavors you want to spotlight.

In this case, the zucchini takes over for the lasagna noodles. You slice the zucchini thin, then layer it into the pan, piling the sauce and cheeses on top. The zucchini maintains its structure surprisingly well.

I love the idea of a lasagna with no noodles. You can look at this as a "healthier" lasagna, since it does away with the carbs. In my hands, though, it was just an excuse to add extra cheese.

You can bulk up the sauce by sautéing some mushrooms, onions, or bell peppers into it. Or you can cook up some ground meat or Italian sausage and mix that in with the sauce.

First make the ricotta mixture by combining ricotta, parmesan, egg, basil, salt and pepper.

You can prepare the sauce from scratch. I used jarred sauce. (BTW, if you haven't tried it, Rao's makes the best jarred sauce on the planet.)

Now slice the zucchini into thin strips.

Spread a little tomato sauce on the bottom of your pan and top with a layer of zucchini.

Add some of the ricotta mixture and the shredded mozzarella.

Create a second layer, with sauce, zucchini, ricotta and mozzarella.

For the final layer, top the zucchini with sauce and just the mozzarella cheese.

Cover and bake until the cheese is golden brown and the concoction is bubbling up around the edges.

Let the lasagna sit for 15 minutes before you cut into it. This gives the cheese a chance to set.

No Noodle Zucchini Lasagna

Recipe adapted from She Manufactures

1 28-oz jar spaghetti sauce
2 cups ricotta cheese
1 cup shredded Parmesan cheese
1 egg
1/2 cup fresh basil, sliced/torn
1/2 tsp salt
Black pepper
2 pounds zucchini (about 3), sliced into thin, lasagna noodle-like strips
2 cups shredded mozzarella

1.      Preheat oven to 350.

2.      In a bowl, combine the ricotta, parmesan, egg, basil, salt and pepper. Mix well and set aside.

3.      Lightly oil a 9 x 13 inch pan.  Spread a thin layer of sauce on the bottom. Then cover with a layer of zucchini slices. Top zucchini with half of the ricotta mixture and one-third of the mozzarella. Drizzle tomato sauce on top.

4.      Repeat, layering another layer of zucchini, the rest of the ricotta, one-third of the mozzarella and some sauce.

5.      For the final layer, arrange the zucchini, cover with sauce, and sprinkle with the remaining mozzarella.

6.      Bake for 45 minutes, covered.  Then uncover and bake for another 15 minutes. 

7.      Remove from the oven and let the lasagna cool for 15 minutes before cutting into it. 

Serves 6

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