Monday, August 22, 2011

Zucchini Lasagna

Copyright 2011 LtDan'sKitchen blogs
Part two of the zucchini saga features a main dish. I've used zucchini to replace part of regular pasta before to up the healthy quotient of the dish but to replace the entire pasta with zucchini is something I haven't tried yet. Given the gargantuan size of the zucchini I have with me, lasagna seems to be the best candidate for such an experiment. Looking through the internet, it becomes apparent that this idea is not novel as proven by the number of recipes available on the web. Still, I'm using my own recipe for the tomato sauce and incorporating some of my ideas on preparing this dish. One thing I want to do though is make this dish gluten-free. To achieve this, I need to do away with using a bechamel sauce to complement the gravy (tomato sauce) and use ricotta cheese instead.

The one thing to remember about this dish is that doing away with the pasta means that all liquids are contained in the dish. The lasagna is a bit watery once you cut into it but I really don't mind it one bit. The "broth" has a rich flavor and a slice of bread might be a good way to take care of this issue. Two things you can do though is to sweat the zucchini a lot longer or you can add more tomato paste so that you don't introduce more liquid into the dish.   
Zucchini Lasagna

2 lbs ground beef
1 onion, diced
3 cloves garlic, minced
2 30-oz diced tomatoes, canned
4 tbsp tomato paste
1/2 tsp each of dried oregano, thyme and basil
1/4 cup fresh parsley
1 15-oz ricotta cheese
2 cups shredded mozarella
2 tbsp olive oil
salt and pepper
3-4 lbs zucchini

1. Over medium heat, heat the olive oil in a sauce pan. Add the garlic and 
    onions and cook until softened. Season with salt and pepper. 

2. Add the dried herbs and cook for about a minute. Add the beef and 
    season with salt and cook until it loses its pink color. Add the canned 
    tomatoes and simmer for about 30 minutes. 

3. Add the tomato paste and adjust the seasoning. Set aside and cool. 

4. While making the sauce, slice the zucchini crosswise into thin slices and 
    salt to sweat for about 30 minutes. Collect the zucchini slices and in a 
    colander, wash with cold water and drain well. 

5. To assemble, spread about 1/2 cup of sauce on a 9x13 baking dish and 
    layer the zucchini slices to cover the whole pan. Ladle with a third of 
    the sauce and top with dollops of ricotta and a third of the mozzarella 

6. Continue layering the ingredients until you end up with the cheese layer. 
    Garnish with the chopped parsley and bake for an hour at 350°F.  

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