As I mentioned, the Hubby, for digestive reasons, has gone no-carb. Not only has be lost a great deal of weight, but the digestion and overheating issues he had are completely gone! But, as a vegetarian, that makes his options for eating a little monotone. So, when he was in Grand Rapids recently and had no pasta lasagne, he thought he had found something he could have! Big surprise was, I had already made it for him in the past.
Since Hubby will be starting a new job tomorrow that’s about a 40 minute drive, he won’t be able to come home and make his lunch, so I offered to make the lasagne. He can pack it up and take it with him for lunch instead. I got an enthusiasic “Sure!”, and so we went grocery shopping.
In this version, I used 2 kinds of zucchini as the “pasta” layer, and in the past I have used thinly sliced root vegetables, but I also can see using cooked and chopped spinach, or cooked mushrooms, maybe a duxelle. Any number of vegetables can be used, the key is to get them as dry as possible, because any liquid generated can’t be absorbed by the pasta, and so to avoid a soupy mess, dry is the best way to go! Honestly I started this on Saturday, and assembled and cook this on Sunday, but you can do it all in one go. You can also vary the cheese you use, as well as the sauce. For this I used a homemade tomato sauce, but I have also used a bechamel in the past and blogged the recipe. I can see a cheddar or even a Swiss cheese, yum!
- 4 large zucchini, sliced lengthwise, as thinly as possible
- 1 teaspoon course salt (Kosher or sea salt)
- 1 large package of mushrooms, sliced finely
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- 1 clove or garlic, minced or finely chopped
- 4 – 6 cups of tomato sauce (see below for recommended preparation)
- 24 oz ricotta cheese
- 2 large eggs
- 3/4 cup ground fresh Parmasean cheese
- 1 teaspoon dried basil or 1/2 cup shredded fresh
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 4 – 5 grinds of fresh pepper
- 1 lb mozarella sliced into thin coins
On a tea towel or a few layers of paper toweling, lay out all the zucchini in one layer (you may have to do it in batches). Lightly sprinkle each with some salt, and allow to sit for 15 – 20 minutes, to draw out the water in them. Use paper toweling to dry them on both side, which will remove much of the salt too. Set them aside in a bowl. And as you’re prepping, check them periodically and drain away any water collected.
In a large, wide frying pan, heat the olive oil until hot, and add in the mushrooms, get them into one layer if possible, or again do this in batches. The target is to cook the mushrooms until most of their liquid is evaporated. I usually very lightly salt them in the pan, just a pinch spread over them. Allow them to warm through, and as they start to let their water go, toss in the garlic. Stir them over medium heat until they are all wilted and cooked through, then turn up the heat and stir them well until the water is almost completely evaporated. They may start to brown a little, and that’s OK, but take them off the heat once that happens and allow them to cool.
I am always amazed at how much mushrooms cook down!
While the mushrooms cool, if you’re assembling this right away, in a large bowl, place the ricotta, pepper, salt and eggs, and combine well. Stir in the basil and set aside.
Now it’s just a matter of assembling it all. In a lasagne pan, or a deep rectangular cake pan, arrange a layer of zucchini, top with 1/2 the ricotta mixture, sprinkle a layer of Parmasean, then a layer of tomato sauce. Lay another layer of zucchini, and gently press it into the layer below, so any air escapes. Top with the remaining ricotta, sprinkling of Parmesean, and sauce. Over that, layer the mushrooms, and strew with any remaining ricotta and a drizzle of tomato sauce, then layer the mozzarella on top and sprinkle all over with the remaining Parmesean.
Allow this to sit for 20 minutes or so, and pre-heat the oven to 375º F. Before you put the dish into the oven, tap it gently but firmly on the countertop, to force out any air bubbles. Place in the oven and cook for 10 minutes, then lower the heat to 350º F and cook for an additional hour. Start checking it abou 25 minutes before it’s done, to be sure it doesn’t burn on the top. If it starts to look like it’s burning, lightly cover it with a loose tin foil tent, and continue cooking. Don’t let the tin foil touch the cheese if possible.
In order to remove as much water as possible, when the hour is over, I turn the oven off and allow the dish to sit in the cooling oven for another 20 – 30 minutes. All you need is a nice salad and a good glass of red wine, and you have a great supper!
For the tomato sauce, there are several ways you can go. There is no shame in a bottled sauce, just remember you are trying to avoid added sugar and carbs, so a best quality sauce is recommended. My tried and true recipe is below:
- 1lb tomatoes from the freezer (or 2 cans best quality plum tomotoes, skinned, chopped)
- 1 can best quality tomato sauce (I love Dellallo, but any good Italian tomatoes are good)
- 3 tablespoons olive oil
- 1 large onion diced
- 4 cloves of garlic minced
- 1/2 teaspoon dried oregano (1 teaspoon fresh)
- 1 teaspoon dried basil (teaspoons fresh shredded)
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 1/2 teaspoon pepper
- 1 cup water
- 1 cup red wine (optional)
In a large, heavy bottomed sauce pot, heat the olive oil for 2 minutes at medium heat. Add in the onions and a pinch of salt, stir well and cover for 10 minutes. Remove the cover and stir well, allow to cook for another 10 minutes with no lid, then add in the garlic, oregano and basil, remaining salt and the pepper. Simmer this all together until the oinions are cooked through and faintly starting to brown, then add in the tomatoes. Stir all well, and add in the water and wine, if you’re using it. If you use canned tomatoes, swirl the water in the cans to grab any remaining tomato.
Once everything is combined, lower the heat to low, put the lid on the pot, and allow to cook for 30 minutes, checking once in a while and to stir, so nothing sticks to the bottom of the pan. After cooking covered for 30 minutes, take the lid off the pan and allow to bubble away for another 10 – 15 minutes, to reduce slightly.
At this point you can eat with pasta, or whatever you choose to eat it with, or allow it to cool on the stove, wrap up and use within the next few days, or freeze for future use!
This time 1 year ago:
Smooth, Creamy Hummus
2 years ago:
5 years ago:
Homemade cocktail cherries!