Better Bites: Zucchini Lasagna

Vegetable "Lasagna"

First of let me just say that I’m not a fan of “low carb” anything and in fact I didn’t take the noodles out of this dish to make it that. To be completely honest when I hear the term “low-carb” I cringe. Any “diet” (also another word I’m not that fond of…Focus on healthy eating not starving yourself to death on some “diet”!) that tells you it’s ok to eat a slice of fatty bacon over an apple has more than a few issues! All things in moderation and if you want a piece of bacon, then plan for it, but all of that to say I can’t tell you the carb content of the dish…I could figure it out if I wanted to, but I won’t. I can however tell you my way of thinking…I believe in good carbs (whole grains, vegetables, fruits) versus bad carbs (refined sugars, flours, etc.). In fact you can make a perfectly healthy pasta dish using whole grain pastas just as easily, but I thought it would be fun to shake things up a bit.

Second, let’s touch on the subject of dairy. Most fat free dairy is just nasty. It tastes like cardboard. The exceptions to this are skim milk, ricotta and some cottage cheeses. Low-fat dairy on the other hand isn’t half bad and in some cases you can’t even tell the difference. It’s still something you want to use in moderation, but then again the key to these sort of things to begin with is moderation.

This dish pairs low-fat dairy, with zucchini to take lasagna to a whole new level. Who says you can’t have “lasagna” when you’re trying to eat right? This is just the dish for you!

What You’ll Need:
1 – 16 or 18 ounce jar of marinara sauce (Note: Read the label. You want something that is made of tomatoes, perhaps some garlic and some herbs. If it has sugar, or god forbid high fructose corn syrup, put it back!)
3-4 large zucchini, cut in half and then cut into long slices roughly 1/4 of an inch thick
1 tablespoon of extra virgin olive oil
2 cups of sliced mushrooms (Note: I usually slice them myself, but you can buy them sliced if you like.)
1 red onion, chopped
4-6 cloves of garlic, minced
A pinch of sea salt
Freshly ground black pepper
1/2 a small container of fat-free ricotta
8 ounces of part skim mozzarella, shredded or sliced thing (Note: I buy a 16 ounce package and cut it in half and then shred or slice thin. Lately I’ve been slicing it.)
6 ounces of freshly grated Parmesan

Preheat oven to 375 F.

Vegetable "Lasagna": Vegetables

In a large skillet sauté mushrooms, onion and garlic in extra virgin olive oil with a pinch of sea salt and some freshly ground black pepper until tender. Remove from heat and set aside.

(Note: This next step you can follow as written, BUT the next time I make this I am going to roast the zucchini FIRST. When you cook zucchini, as with most vegetables, they let off moisture, so it made the dish a bit most overall. It won’t affect taste, but for presentation value it would be nice to roast it first. To do that you would simply pan “fry” or roast in the oven until tender and then cut the cooking time for the “lasagna” to 15-20 minute to just heat through and cheese is melted.)

Now to assemble the “lasagna”…

Spray an 8 X 8 inch dish with non-stick spray or brush it with olive oil. Layer it with a single layer of zucchini slices:

Vegetable "Lasagna": Ready for Ricotta

Next add some ricotta:

Vegetable "Lasagna": Ready for Marinara

Then a layer of marinara:

Vegetable "Lasagna": Ready for Vegetables

Next add the sautéed vegetables:

Vegetable "Lasagna": Ready for Cheese

Next add a little mozzarella and Parmesan:

Vegetable "Lasagna": Ready for the Next Layer

Repeat this process two more times and the top the top of the “lasagna” with the remaining cheese:

Vegetable "Lasagna": Ready to Bake

(Note: I like to go sparingly on the Parmesan on the in between layers and put the majority of it on the top.)

Bake covered for 35-40 minutes if you didn’t cook the zucchini first or 15-20 if you did. In the last five minutes of cooking take off the cover so it can brown slightly. Remove from the oven and let sit for 10 minutes before slicing and serving.

Notes: You could add in herbs if you like, but the marinara sauce that I used was nicely herbed to start with. You could also make your own sauce. As with anything, even though this is lighter than the original dish, it’s still something to be eaten in moderation, but it’s much lighter than other versions! This is also gluten free.

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