With a nod to the wisdom of Mediterranean diets, here is a twist on a basic lasagna that uses thinly sliced zucchini in place of the empty calories of pasta. The reviews from my dinner guests were great and nobody felt the usual sluggishness of the food coma that can follow a pasta-based lasagna.
5 or 6 medium zucchini, thinly sliced horizontally
Pre-cook the zucchini in a 450 degree oven. Rub a small amount of olive oil on each zucchini slice, cook them in a single layer on parchment paper, 7 minutes, turn, and bake 5 more minutes. Pat dry, lightly season w salt and pepper.
Adjust the oven heat to 350 degrees for the lasagna.
To make a quick marinara sauce (can be made ahead of time, or if you are in a hurry, you can use your favorite jarred sauce):
Note: If you would like to add meat, start by sautéing / browning 1 lb of ground beef or turkey for about 8 minutes, drain off the extra fat, omitting the olive oil for sautéing the vegetables, and then proceed with the recipe.
In a saucepan, sauté in 2 Tb olive oil:
4 cloves garlic crushed
8 oz. mushrooms, sliced
1 large onion, cut in half the long way, root to stem, then thinly sliced vertically, and finally cut in half horizontally
2 bell peppers, thinly sliced and cut into inch-long pieces
Salt and pepper to taste
Cook for about 8 minutes over med-high heat until vegetables have softened.
1 28-oz. can crushed tomatoes
1 tsp each oregano, basil
½ tsp Chili pepper flakes
Add more salt and pepper as you like
Let simmer for about 15 minutes over med-low heat while you assemble the rest of the ingredients.
4 fresh tomatoes, sliced, patted dry
In a bowl combine:
1 lb. ricotta cheese
1 tsp dried basil
2 cloves crushed garlic
1 egg yolk
salt and pepper to taste
1-2 lbs. grated mozzarella cheese, more if you like it extra cheesy
1 cup grated parmesan or asiago cheese
Lightly oil a 9”x13” baking pan and then layer zucchini slices, spread a thin layer of the ricotta mixture on them, then a layer of sliced fresh tomatoes, followed by a thin layer of the marinara, and then a light sprinkling of both the mozzarella and parmesan, and repeat until filled. I like to finish the top layer with the zucchini or the tomatoes, topped with a light layer of marinara and a bit of cheese.
Bake for about 40 minutes until the lasagna is bubbling and the cheese on top has lightly browned. Remove from the oven and allow to rest for about ten minutes before cutting and serving.