Friday, July 22, 2011

Healthy Lasagna: So You Don't Have to Feel Guilty About Eating the Whole Pan

5 lasagna noodles. That's all. Yet it holds its shape remarkably well and tastes heavenly. The secret is in the zucchini! Go all out on the veggies and use extra lean beef and this will soon be one of your favorite dishes to make.

Zucchini Lasagna
  • 2 large zucchinis, or 3 medium
  • 5 lasagna noodles, depending on the size/shape of your dish
  • marinara sauce, I used my homemade recipe featured below
  • 1 lb. 93% lean angus ground beef
  • 15 ounces ricotta cheese, I used low-fat
  • 1 whole egg
  • 1/2 bag baby spinach
  • handful of fresh parsley, finely chopped
  • shredded mozzarella cheese
  • freshly grated Parmigiano-Reggiano
  • S&P
Preparation & Cooking Instructions
Start with your zucchini. Thinly slice the zucchini and lay in layers in a colander, salting each layer. You want to let the water drain from the zucchini while you do the sauce and the meat. Get started on your sauce, recipe below. Once the sauce is simmering away brown your ground beef in a non-stick skillet with salt and pepper to taste. In a blender add the ricotta, egg, salt and pepper, parsley, and spinach. Whirl it around until the ingredients have combined. When the sauce and meat are ready start assembling, there is no need to cook the noodles first. I used paper towels to blot excess water from the zucchini before assembling. This helps keep the lasagna from being watered down and mushy, unable to hold its shape. In a casserole dish or lasagna pan add a thin layer of sauce, then a layer of zucchini, then meat, ricotta cheese, your 5ish noodles, and repeat starting with the sauce. 

There should be three layers of zucchini total, the top one covered by meat and the remainder of your marinara sauce. Top with shredded mozzarella cheese, cover tightly with foil, and bake in a preheated 375 degree oven for 45 minutes. Remove the foil and cook for an additional 15 minutes, or until the cheese has melted. If you're cooler than me and have a good broiler then definitely broil the lasagna to brown up the cheese. My Pyrex dish would unfortunately explode if I placed it in the broiler drawer, and I'm afraid of fire so I opted for plain old melted cheese. Let cool at LEAST 20 minutes to let the "noodles" set, serve as usual topped with fresh parsley and grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese ^_^

Don't be like me and not leave enough time to cool before cutting it, because it will fall apart slightly while hissing and spraying super fiery hot cooking liquids at you.

Super Simple Basic Marinara Sauce
  • 1 cup chopped yellow or white onion
  • 28 ounce can San Marzano tomatoes, either cubed or diced
  • 2 cloves of garlic or a squirt of the paste kind, about 1 1/2 teaspoons
  • 2 tablespoons chopped fresh basil, or the tube kind
  • 2 tablespoons good olive oil
  • S&P to taste (I use about 1 1/2 tsp salt, and 1/2 tsp black pepper)
Saute the onion in the olive oil with a bit of salt until softened. Add the remaining ingredients and bring the whole thing up to a bubble. Reduce the heat and simmer on low for 15-20 minutes, or longer if you have the time. Simple as that! If you don't have fresh herbs substitute with dried herbs, and use garlic powder if you don't have fresh garlic on hand. This is equivalent to a 26 ounce jar of sauce from the grocery store, with a better flavor of course.

You can get fancy and add red wine, balsamic vinegar, brown sugar, anchovy paste, and many other flavors to make this sauce even better. It's all about what you have on hand, and how much time you have. Enjoy!


Mary @ Bites and Bliss said...

I love this!! Lasagna's amazing..but I really don't like noodles.  I usually eat around them anyway, so this is perfect!

Fab Kimberly said...

Looks amazing!!

definingtabitha said...

YUM I'll definitely have to try this with some gluten free noodles.  Looks delish!

Healthy & Homemade said...

It's the best for anyone trying to cut carbs =P Seriously yummy though!

Healthy & Homemade said...

It is! =P

Healthy & Homemade said...


Pam said...

What a great idea!  It looks tasty.

Amyepalmacci said...

Sign me up for this dish...can't wait to make it! It looks delicious!

Healthy & Homemade said...

It is! I only got 2 pieces out of the whole pan last time =P It went quickly!

Healthy & Homemade said...

I love the different variations you can do too! A bechamel sauce instead of ricotta, any other squash not just zucchini, turkey or chicken instead of beef, the possibilities are endless!