Who doesn't love a big dish of lasagna? This classic Italian casserole layers pasta with ground beef, tomato sauce, and tons of melted cheese. It is comfort food at its finest, but it's definitely not light fare.
And if you are on any kind of low-carb or gluten-free diet, the lasagna noodles that are the mainstay of this dish make it impossible to eat. Or is it? All you really need is something that layers like lasagna noodles to provide structure, and zucchini works perfectly. The long, thick vegetable slices perfectly into the same approximate shape and size as the pasta and suddenly, lasagna is back on your menu!
Substituting zucchini for the pasta makes this a low-carb, wheat-free, and gluten-free recipe and, of course, it's much lighter on calories. Although it's still filled with tons of gooey cheese. Zucchini is also delicious and the final dish is hearty and satisfying, so the chances are good that you won't really miss the pasta that much.
Make this vegetarian version or add ground beef to the tomato sauce for a heartier dish.
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- 1 onion (peeled and diced)
- 2 cloves garlic (peeled and minced)
- 8 ounces tomato sauce
- 1/2 teaspoon dried oregano
- 2 tablespoons fresh basil (chopped)
- 4 zucchini (thinly sliced)
- 1 cup ricotta cheese
- 1/4 cup Parmesan cheese (grated)
- 2 cups mozzarella cheese (shredded)
- Salt (to taste)
- Freshly ground black pepper (to taste)
Gather the ingredients.
Preheat the oven to 400 F.
Add the tablespoon of olive oil and the diced onion to a large skillet or cast iron pan. Cook on medium heat, stirring often until the onions soften and begin to lightly caramelize.
Add the minced garlic and continue cooking for one more minute.
Add the tomato sauce, oregano, fresh basil, salt, and ground black pepper. Continue cooking for another minute or two and then remove from the heat to cool slightly.
While the sauce cools, slice the zucchini into thin (approximately 1/8-inch thick), noodle-like layers. You can do this with a sharp knife, but a mandoline slicer is the ideal tool for this job.
Lightly salt them and set them on a rack for about 10 minutes. This will help draw some of the excess water from the vegetable. Pat them dry with a paper towel before assembling the lasagna.
In an oven-safe casserole dish (approximately 9-inches-by-13-inches), spread a couple of tablespoons of the cooled sauce on the bottom. Place a layer of the zucchini noodles over the sauce, then a layer of shredded mozzarella cheese.
Add a couple of tablespoons of the sauce followed by another layer of the zucchini noodles.
Place a few dollops of the ricotta cheese on top and repeat the process until you've reached the top of the dish. The final layer should be mozzarella cheese topped with the Parmesan.
Bake in the oven for 35 to 45 minutes or until the cheese has melted and started to brown.
Let stand for 5 to 10 minutes before serving.
- To make a heartier, meat-based but still grain-free lasagna, brown 1 pound of lean ground beef in the pan with the onions and garlic. Then follow the same steps to complete the dish.a