Lasagna is generally something to be served in the cold of winter. But when you substitute super-thin slices of zucchini for the noodles, you wind up with a layered casserole that is perfectly suited to summer – summer lasagna, if you will.
This Zucchini Lasagna happened during a carb-restricting moment, but it is yummy enough for the staunchest carboholics among us. First inspired by Gina Homolka of Skinnytaste, we have played with the recipe a little here and there, adding Italian sausage for bite and fresh mozzarella slices for a thick, stretchy, bubbly top layer of cheese. The zucchini stays just a little bit al-dente – a texture I actually prefer to soft pasta noodles.
Zucchini Lasagna is a favorite in our house, one that is on the regular request list. You will never have to wonder what to do with all that summer zucchini again!
3 zucchinis, sliced very thinly lengthwise (best done on a mandoline)
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 pound lean ground beef
½ pound Italian sausage, casings removed
1 yellow onion, chopped
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 teaspoon kosher salt
½ teaspoon freshly ground pepper
1 teaspoon dried oregano
2 tablespoons tomato paste
1 28-ounce can crushed tomatoes
½ cup fresh basil leaves, torn
16 ounces ricotta cheese
1 cup grated parmesan cheese, plus ¼ cup, divided
1 egg, beaten
16 ounces fresh mozzarella cheese, sliced ¼-inch thick
Line the countertop with a couple of paper towels stacked on top of each other. Layer some of the zucchini slices in a single layer on top of the paper towels, then layer more paper towels on top. Keep layering paper towels and zucchini until all the zucchini slices are between paper towels and press down gently. Let the zucchini sit for about 30 minutes; this helps to drain the excess water out of it and keep the lasagna from getting soupy.
In a heavy saucepan, heat the olive oil over medium heat. Add the ground beef and sausage, using a wooden spoon to break up and combine the meat. Cook until the meat is no longer pink, about 8 minutes. Add the onion and garlic, and cook until the onion is translucent, about 5 minutes. Season with the salt, pepper, and oregano, and stir in the tomato paste and crushed tomatoes, then the basil. Simmer over low heat for 30 minutes.
Meanwhile, in a large bowl, stir together the ricotta, parmesan, and egg. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.
Spread 1/3 of the sauce in the bottom of a 9-by-13-inch baking dish. Top with a single layer of zucchini slices, cutting the slices to fit. Dollop ½ of the cheese mixture all over the top of the zucchini, then spread 1/3 of the sauce on top. Repeat the layers, ending with the sauce. Place the mozzarella slices on top, then sprinkle ¼ cup parmesan over. Cover the lasagna with foil and bake for 30 minutes. Remove the foil, and bake for another 20 minutes. Turn on the broiler, and broil the top for about 3 minutes, until the cheese begins to bubble and brown.
Remove from the oven and let the lasagna stand for 10 or 15 minutes before serving.
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