Zucchini Lasagna (Gluten-Free!).

Thin slices of grilled zucchini take the place of traditional lasagna noodles, and are then nestled in a rich meat and cheese sauce. You won’t miss the pasta one bit!

IMG_1282

See that beautiful green peaking through the lasagna? That’s the zucchini. I realize many of you have got to be really skeptical at this point. Zucchini for lasagna noodles?! It sounds crazy, I know, and even I had my reservations about it. I’m pretty sure I looked at my husband at one point while assembling this and told him I had no idea if this was going to turn out well. Thankfully, it did. Not only did it turn out well, it was awesome!! He’s not a huge fan of zucchini and really loved this one too. With lots of meat and cheese, what’s not to love? Yum.

IMG_1286

For those of you who follow me on instagram (if you don’t, you should!), you may recall I recently had a tiiiiny kitchen incident earlier this week involving a knife and 3 of my fingers. A record, to be sure. This recipe was worth it, though. It just goes to show you everyone can have one of those days in the kitchen, and you need to be careful with sharp knives. Which, by the way, you’ll need a sharp knife or a mandoline to achieve these thin slices of zucchini you’ll use to replace the noodles. Just be careful and don’t do what I did. : )

IMG_1270
Once they’re thinly sliced (you’re going for about 1/8-1/4 inch slice), sprinkle some salt on ’em to draw out excess water, pat them dry, and grill them up on an indoor or outdoor grill. These slices are so thin that they’ll be ready within 1-2 minutes per side. My indoor grill took a little longer than that on some of my slightly thicker slices, but just pierce them with a fork to test if they’re done. They’ll look something like this:

IMG_1273

I had 3 small zucchini, and it ended up not being enough for the layers, so I did the above steps with 2 small yellow squash and added it in the middle layer, which worked out great. So, if your garden is exploding with one squash and not the other, you can certainly substitute yellow squash!

While all of that’s happening, you’ll brown your meat and make a yummy sauce. Then, in another bowl, you’ll mix together ricotta cheese with parmesan and egg. That’s what makes this sauce so creamy and rich tasting. Once everything is ready, start layering! Sauce goes in the bottom of the pan first, followed by zucchini, ricotta mixture, mozzarella cheese, and another layer of sauce. I was able to have 3 layers of zucchini total. The top layer is a little different in that you only add the remaining sauce and mozzarella, no ricotta. This is important because you now know you can use half the ricotta mixture on the first layer, and the second half on the second layer. Make sense? Then once it’s all beautifully assembled, cover it with foil and bake it for about 30 minutes.

IMG_1276

After 30-40 minutes, remove the foil and either let it bake for another 15 minutes until golden brown on top, or turn your broiler on high for a few minutes. This lasagna took a pretty long while to assemble and we were hungry, so I went with the broiler route. Just be sure to keep an eye on it!

IMG_1281

The portion sizes on mine worked out to be equivalent to about the width of 2 slices of zucchini. Pair it with a big salad and you’ve got yourself a really filling meal!

IMG_1283

Zucchini Lasagna (Gluten-Free!)

Ingredients:

  • 1 lb 96% lean beef (or ground turkey)
  • 3 cloves garlic
  • 1/2 onion
  • salt and pepper
  • 28 oz can crushed tomatoes with basil
  • 2 tbsp chopped fresh basil
  • 3-4 large zucchini OR yellow squash, sliced 1/8″-1/4″ thick (I used 3 small zucchini + 2 small yellow squash)
  • 15 oz part-skim ricotta
  • 16 oz part-skin mozzarella cheese, shredded (I did not use the whole bag but you can if you’d like!)
  • 1/4 cup grated parmesan cheese
  • 1 large egg

1). For the meat sauce: Heat a large pan and brown the meat, seasoning liberally with salt and pepper. Add the chopped onion and garlic and cook until translucent. Add the tomatoes, basil, and more salt and pepper. Simmer on low, covered, for about 30 minutes while you prepare the zucchini.

2). Sprinkle a little bit of salt on the thinly sliced zucchini to draw out any excess moisture and after 10 minutes pat them dry with a paper towel. Heat your grill and grill the zucchini slices for 1-2 minutes per side, or slightly longer for any thicker slices you may have. To test if they’re done, pierce them with a fork. They should be easily pierced when cooked through.

3). Preheat the oven to 350F. In a medium bowl, combine the ricotta, parmesan, and egg together well.

4). Spray a 9×13 pan with cooking spray. Begin layering. Spoon some of the sauce on the bottom of the pan, then top with zucchini slices. Add HALF the ricotta mixture on top of this layer, then sprinkle with mozzarella cheese. Add more sauce, zucchini, the second half of the ricotta mixture, and more mozzarella cheese. Top with more sauce, the last layer of zucchini, more sauce, and the last of the mozzarella cheese.

5). Cover with foil and bake for about 30-40 minutes. Remove foil and bake for another 15 minutes or until the cheese is golden-brown. Alternatively, you can turn the broiler on high to achieve the golden brown look quicker (just be sure to keep an eye on it!)

6). Allow the lasagna to rest about 5-10 minutes before serving. Enjoy!

Servings: 8. Nutritional Information per Serving: Calories: 345 Carbs: 16g Fat: 17g Protein: 36g Fiber: 2g Points+: 9
Recipe adapted from: http://www.skinnytaste.com/2009/02/zucchini-lasagna.html 

 

 

Advertisement

Crock Pot Lasagna Soup

photo-7

I love lasagna but hate taking the time to assemble it. This soup entails all the traditional flavors of lasagna in a less traditional way. I tried a similar recipe last year but I think I prefer this crock pot version. It is easy to throw together, very nutritious, and it can feed a small army!

That is a huge crock pot and it is FULL! Be ready for leftovers! :)

I learned something INCREDIBLE via experimenting with this soup: you do NOT have to brown the ground turkey before you add it to your soup!

“What?!” “No way.” “This girl must be crazy.” “How is that possible?”

I bet all of those phrases just went through your mind. I know that was my initial reaction! But yes, it is true…to save yourself an extra 10 minutes and dirty pan to wash, all you have to do is crumble the ground meat directly into the crock pot. It cooked perfectly!! I will definitely be doing this from now on.

photo-6

This soup seems to be very versatile and you can easily adapt it to what you have in your pantry. For example, I was out of tomato paste so I used tomato sauce. I didn’t have beef broth so I used chicken broth. The original recipe called for V8 (who has that in their pantry? I never do!), so I used my favorite marinara sauce. The end result was fantastic!

Crock Pot Lasagna Soup

Ingredients:

  • 1.25 lb 99% fat free ground turkey (or you can use ground beef if you’d prefer!)
  • 4 cups low sodium chicken broth
  • 1 cup water
  • 1 28 oz can crushed tomatoes with basil (I love tuttorosso!)
  • 1 cup prepared pasta sauce
  • 1 8 oz can no salt added tomato sauce
  • 4-5 cloves of garlic, minced
  • 1 Tbsp dried parsley
  • 1 Tbsp dried basil
  • 1 small onion, chopped
  • 1-2 tsp salt and pepper
  • 2 cups uncooked small pasta (like elbow or shell…I used whole wheat)
  • Optional: 2 bay leaves and 1/2 tsp red pepper flakes for added flavor!
  • For (not so optional) topping: 1 Tbsp part-skim ricotta, 1-2 Tbsp part-skim shredded mozzarella cheese

Directions:

1). Mix together the tomato sauce, crushed tomatoes, broth, garlic, onion, basil, parsley, and pasta sauce in the crock pot.

2). Crumble ground turkey into the soup (or you can cook it before you add it, but it will turn out perfectly fine this way too!)

3). Cover and cook on LOW 7-8 hours or HIGH 4-5 hours.

4). About 20-30 minutes before ready to serve, add the 2 cups of uncooked pasta and 1 cup of water. Stir to combine. Place lid back on and let the pasta cook for about 30 minutes.

*If you let the soup go too long with the pasta in it the pasta will get over cooked. Just keep an eye on it!*

5) Ladle 1 cup portions in to bowls and top with ricotta and mozzarella cheese, if desired.

This soup was high in protein and low in fat, which will keep you full for a long time. My husband usually doesn’t consider soup a “meal” but that wasn’t the case with this soup! Try it and let me know what you think!

Servings: 13. Serving size: 1 cup.
Nutritional Information Per 1 Cup Serving: Calories: 178 Carbs: 22 g Fat: 3 g Protein: 15 g Sugar: 7 g Sodium: 362. 

Recipe adapted from http://www.familyfreshmeals.com/2012/11/slow-cooker-crockpot-lasagna-soup.html.