Tuesday, August 19, 2014

Zucchini Lasagna

We're always excited to find new ways to use our garden produce. I shared these yummy zucchini muffins last week in case you missed them and they are superb. Today I'm excited to share this delicious Zucchini Lasagna recipe given to me by Kim, my hair stylist and good friend. She grows a beautiful garden and has shared many awesome gardening tips and ideas with me. She told me about this lasagna at the end of last gardening season and I never got a chance to make it. I texted her this year begging for the recipe when my zucchini came on in full force. She was kind enough to share the basic ideas with me and I adapted it using on my own spaghetti sauce and a few ideas I read about from the web. 

One of the wonderful things about this recipe is the fresh Mexican ricotta cheese. Mexican ricotta is different than regular ricotta in that it has a wonderful firm texture without a lot of liquid. If you can't find the Mexican ricotta (I think you can actually make it too, but I usually buy mine at a Mexican market near my home) you can use regular ricotta or cottage cheese. If I was making this with regular ricotta or cottage cheese I would probably buy a little bigger container than 16 oz. and leave it for a little while in a fine mesh strainer to strain out some of the extra liquid. Then measure out 16 oz. and use as directed in the recipe. 

This is a delicious lasagna and we've really enjoy eating it this harvest season. It's light but filling and packed full of flavor. I made it for my dad who is Celiac and has to eat gluten free and he loved it. My husband has commented a time or two of eating this that you really don't miss the lasagna noodles or even notice you're eating zucchini until you look at the color. I hope your family enjoys it too. Thanks Kim for sharing an awesome recipe!

Zucchini Lasagna
Printable Recipe

*Serves 6-8

2 small-medium zucchini (no monsters please)
sea salt
1/2 - 1 lb. ground meat (beef, turkey, turkey sausage, Italian sausage, etc. I usually only use 1/2 lb. when I make this with the quinoa sauce)
1 recipe Homemade Spaghetti Sauce with Quinoa (or a 28-oz. bottle of spaghetti sauce of your choice)
16 oz. ricotta or cottage cheese (I use fresh Mexican ricotta cheese. It's called Requeson.)
1/2 tsp. black pepper
1/2 tsp. sea salt
1/4 Cup fresh parsley, chopped or 1 Tbsp. dried parsley
1/3 - 1/2 Cup fresh grated Parmesan cheese
3 Cups grated Jack or Mozzarella cheese or cheese blend

Slice zucchini lengthwise into thin strips 1/8" to 1/4" thick. I usually use a mandolin slicer to do this so they are all fairly evenly sliced. Sprinkle zucchini strips lightly with salt and let drain in strainer for about 30 minutes while preparing the sauce (This is an optional step. I've made it without draining the zucchini and it's still very good, just more runny than if you let the zucchini drain first). Brown meat in large saucepan. Drain and discard grease. Add sauce ingredients and let simmer until done according to the recipe or if using bottled spaghetti sauce just heat until warm. While sauce is heating, combine ricotta cheese, black pepper, salt, parsley and Parmesan cheese in medium bowl and mix until combined. Set aside. Dry off zucchini strips with paper towels until no or little moisture is left.

Preheat oven to 350 F. When ready to assemble lasagna, add about 1/3 - 1/2 cup sauce to lightly cover the bottom of a 9x13" baking pan. Lay out the zucchini strips without overlapping to cover the pan. Then add a 1/3 of the remaining sauce and the ricotta cheese mixture on top. Lay out another layer of zucchini strips on top of the riccotta cheese mixture and press down lightly. Then add 1/2 of the remaining sauce and sprinkle with grated jack or mozzarella cheese. Lay out the rest of the zucchini strips and then add the remainder of the sauce and grated cheese.

Bake lasagna in preheat 350 F oven for 45 minutes or until bubbly and cheese is melted. Once cooked, let sit for 5-10 minutes before serving.

*Note: This lasagna can also be made ahead of time and refrigerated for up to 24 hours before baking.

*Recipe Source: Adapted from a recipe shared with me by my friend Kim.

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