IMGP1536After a gorgeous summer and an extended, lovely fall, winter is upon us. By now folks have harvested their gardens and “put up” their bounty in cans, root cellars, or freezers. The snow is accumulating, we’re getting our winter gear together, our tummies are craving hearty dishes. Winter is here.

To celebrate the shift of seasons, my friends MB and Mari teamed up and created this delicious zucchini lasagna. MB used long strips of zucchini as the “noodles,” then Mari’s homegrown garden tomato sauce was layered throughout along with cheese and fresh basil. The result was divine – an achievement of recipe research, cooking techniques, and patience. The leftovers are long gone, but here’s how to recreate their delicious, healthy dish.

IMGP1615-001The sauce: Growing tomatoes in Zone 4 is a feat, and Mari’s tomato patch is impressive–check out all the varieties in her most recent pick. For her garden tomato sauce, she blanches about 4 pounds of tomatoes right from the vine to remove their skins, and sets them aside. When she’s got the better part of a day, she sautés onions until they’re almost caramelized, adds garlic, herbs and tomatoes – and lets them simmer for five hours.  “It marries and reduces on the stove forever. I throw in some red wine to deepen the flavor.” Right on, girl: simple ingredients, nice and slow.

DSC_0074The zucchini “noodles”: MB was super focused on making sure that the zucchini “noodles” didn’t create a lasagna swamp, so she did her research and found this recipe. A mandolin helped slice the zucchini evenly, then she laid them out, salted them, waited 30 minutes for them to “sweat,” “drained” the water from each slice between her fingers, then dried them with a tea towel. Last, she roasted them for ten minutes. The combination of salting, sweating, draining and roasting did the trick – the “noodles” left behind were perfectly salted and held up beautifully between the cheese mixture and Mari’s tomato sauce.

DSC_0115The cheese layers: MB included ricotta (pronounced with a rolling r: “rrrrrrrih-GOH-tuh” according to the Irish contingent from New Jersey), Parmesan, and mozzarella or “the muhtz” (according to my husband, who’s also from New Jersey). For a less cheesy, more lactose-friendly version, use goat cheeses like these: Almathia organic chevre, “Rumi”, an Egyptian style hard goat cheddar, and goat mozzarella. When I did this, I found the cheeses were saltier than cow cheeses, so go easy on the salt on the zucchinis.

An extra layer in the middle: MB and Mari did not do this, but I’d suggest adding some protein and nutrients to the zucchini lasagna with another layer of meat (beef, bison or turkey) or mushrooms along with spinach, chard or kale. Suggestion: work with a friend to slice, sweat and dry the zucchini and assemble this lasagna – it all happened easily when treated as a two-person project!  The photo on the left is the cow cheese creation; photo on the right is the goat cheese version. They were both delicious.

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Zucchini Lasanga: A Healthy, Hearty Triumph
Print Recipe
Skip the noodles and opt for this nutrient dense, gluten-free lasagna. With homemade tomato sauce and delicious cheeses, it's a delicious comfort dish to welcome winter.
Servings Prep Time
12 1 hour
Cook Time Passive Time
50 minutes 30 minutes
Servings Prep Time
12 1 hour
Cook Time Passive Time
50 minutes 30 minutes
Zucchini Lasanga: A Healthy, Hearty Triumph
Print Recipe
Skip the noodles and opt for this nutrient dense, gluten-free lasagna. With homemade tomato sauce and delicious cheeses, it's a delicious comfort dish to welcome winter.
Servings Prep Time
12 1 hour
Cook Time Passive Time
50 minutes 30 minutes
Servings Prep Time
12 1 hour
Cook Time Passive Time
50 minutes 30 minutes
Ingredients
Zucchni "noodles"
Cheese filling
Another layer: meat, mushrooms and greens
Also...
Servings:
Instructions
Make the sauce:
  1. Blanch the tomatoes for a few seconds in hot water and remove their skins. In a large pot, saute onion in olive oil for 15 minutes until they are almost caramelized. Add the garlic and stir for a minute to a minute and a half. Add the tomatoes and herbs and stir. Let the sauce come to a boil, then turn the heat down and simmer for about 5 hours. As the tomatoes stew, their flavors marry with the herbs as the sauce reduces. Stir the sauce about once an hour, add red wine to deepen the flavors if desired. As the sauce cooks, it will thicken as the water evaporates. After 5 hours, add sea salt to taste. Yield: 2.5 quarts of tomato sauce. Use 1 quart for zucchini lasagna.
Prepare the zucchini "noodles":
  1. Wash zucchinis and cut off the ends. Using a mandolin if you have one, slice the zucchinis lengthwise to between 1/8 to 1/4 inch thick. Otherwise, slicing with a knife is fine too. Lightly sprinkle fine sea salt on the zucchini as you go and allow the zucchini slices to sit in on paper towels for about 30 minutes. After 30 minutes, pick each slice up and run two fingers on either side of the slices, squeezing all the way down over a bowl or the sink, releasing even more water. Place the slices on a clean towel and pat the zucchini very dry. Rub olive oil on a large baking sheet (or 2 smaller ones) and place the zucchini slices in a single layer. Roast in a 375 oven for about 10 minutes. Allow the zucchini to cool.
Make the cheese filling:
  1. In a medium bowl, stir together ricotta, cottage cheese or soft chevre, Parmesan cheese (if using), and egg. Add salt and pepper to taste. If using chèvre, add 1/2 cup or more of water and stir, until it's a consistency that will spread easily.
Make the vegetable / meat filling:
  1. In a large sauté pan, heat 2 Tbsp olive oil and sauté the onions for 3 to 4 minutes. Add the mushrooms or meat and continue cooking. Once the mushrooms are soft (or the meat is no longer pink), add the chopped swiss chard. When the chard is cooked, remove from heat and drain any juices (save these for great soup stock). Add 2 Tbsp gluten-free flour to the mixture and mix well to incorporate.
Assemble the lasagna:
  1. Oil a 9 x 13 inch lasagna dish and spread about one third of the sauce on the bottom. Add a layer of roasted zucchini to cover the tomato sauce. Add 2/3 of the cheese filling and spread evenly. Add another layer of zucchini slices. Add a second round of tomato sauce and spread evenly, followed by the meat/mushroom mixture and half of the shredded mozzarella cheese. Add a last layer of zucchini slices followed by the rest of the cheese mixture, then the third and last round of tomato sauce. Place the twelve torn basil leaves on top of the sauce and sprinkle the rest of the shredded mozzarella on top. Place a baking tray on the rack beneath the lasagna pan to catch any bubbling juices from falling to the bottom of your oven. Bake for about 40 minutes at 350 degrees until the cheese has melted. If you wish, turn on the broiler on high for the last 2 minutes to brown the cheese slightly. Allow the lasagna to sit and cool for 30 minutes before slicing.
  2. Nutrition Facts: figured using cow cheeses, 1/2 pound ground turkey, and 1/2 pound crimini mushrooms.
Recipe Notes

The original recipe was by Aube Giroux, titled Skip the Noodles: Zucchini Lasagna.

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