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A few months back, my mom started a low-carb diet, following the principles in George Stella’s Livin’ Low Carb cookbook. It’s not a super-strict diet (no counting); more of a lifestyle, I guess. While Mom’s not a big fan of Stella’s baking, some of his other dishes have been hits, and she’s been losing weight (go Mom!).
The following recipe is a low-carb recipe for “lasagna,” devised by yours truly, which I’ve been promising my mom for a couple of weeks now. The recipe is like regular lasagna, but all the noodles have been replaced with slices of zucchini. Honestly, I don’t even miss the pasta (and we know I’m a carb-oholic!).
My zucchini “lasagna” is based on a recipe for a Zucchini Polenta Bake from The Hungry Bird. I made that recipe previously (also very tasty!) but only had enough polenta (I used leftovers) for one layer. That got me thinking that you could make the same dish using just the zucchini.
There are a couple of other differences in the recipe. While Hungry Bird’s recipe is vegetarian, I used meat sauce in this version (both are delicious, though). Also, mine is a “mini” lasagna made in a loaf pan, which is three or four servings.
This is not a perfect recipe by any means. For one thing, it’s impossible to serve neatly. (Just wait til you see the pictures!) For another, and this may be related, it had a little too much sauce for me. However, it’s hearty, delicious, and easy to throw together.
Serves 2-3 (can be doubled)
For the sauce:
- 1/2 a medium onion, diced
- 1 clove garlic, chopped
- 1/2 lb ground beef
- 1 15-oz can tomato sauce
- 2 tbsp grated Parmesan
- Any other seasonings/add-ins you like to doctor up your sauce (I added Italian seasoning, extra basil and oregano, black and red pepper, and a squirt of lemon juice to freshen it up)
For the lasagna:
- 1 batch of sauce, above
- 2-3 medium zucchini
- 1 1/2 cups shredded mozzarella
- 1/2 cup grated Parmesan
- Salt, pepper, Italian seasoning, and garlic powder (or adapt to your own tastes)
- Preheat the oven to 400 F. Spray a loaf pan with cooking spray and set aside.
- Prepare the sauce: Cook the onion and garlic for a few minutes in a frying pan over medium heat until the onion is translucent. Add the beef and cook until browned. Drain the fat from the pan.
- Return the frying pan to the stove over low heat and add the can of tomato sauce, the cheese, and the seasonings. Simmer over low heat for 5-10 minutes.
- While the sauce simmers, slice the zucchini “noodles.” Here’s how I do it: Cut the ends off the zucchini. Cut the zucchini in half. Cut a small slice off of one side of the zucchini so that it will lay flat. Put the zucchini on the flat side and slice it into pieces that are about 1/4 inch thick. (Tip: when you get close to the middle of the zucchini, turn it around and start slicing from the other side). Each half of the zucchini gave me around 6-8 slices.
- Place the slices of zucchini in a colander and sprinkle generously with kosher salt. Toss and let sit at least 20 minutes, then rinse and dry thoroughly.
- Spread the zucchini slices on a baking sheet and bake 5-10 minutes until they feel dry to the touch. Cool.
- Assemble the lasagna: Spread a thin layer of sauce in the bottom of the pan. Layer zucchini slices over the sauce, overlapping as necessary. Season with salt, pepper, garlic powder, and Italian seasoning. Top the zucchini with a layer of sauce, shredded mozzarella, and some Parmesan. Repeat as necessary until the pan is full (or you run out of ingredients).
- Bake, covered with foil, at 400 F for 30-35 minutes. Uncover and bake an additional 10 minutes. Let stand for 5-10 minutes before serving.Tip: Be aware that you WILL make a mess serving this, and it will NOT come out in one piece. But, to make things easier I suggest cutting through the lasagna with a knife (rather than a spatula) and lifting it out of the pan.