Zucchini Noodle Lasagna

When you take something out of a recipe and exchange it for something else, it doesn’t mean the final outcome will suffer. Take, for example, my sudden craving for lasagna – while I’m trying to live gluten free.

The idea first clicked, and then jelled – to substitute slices of zucchini, for the layers of pasta. Just think about it. An opportunity to ADD flavour and potentially improve the dish – rather than suffer for the lack of pasta…? I’m in!

I don’t know why this didn’t occur to me earlier, especially since I’ve been turning my beloved zucchini into faux pasta for some time now. With cooler temps of early autumn now upon us, thoughts giddily return to comfort goods… simmering in the oven, or on the stove top.

It’s also now football season and for me, all is right in the world. It’s simply my favourite time of year. Why…? I’m not sure. Perhaps because I was born in the sign of Libra…?? Is it because all my favourite things collide, lovingly at this time of year…

So… now that I’ve prepared, cooked AND tasted this – including as leftovers, I simply cannot say enough good… wonderful things about it!! My gluten free lifestyle has improved exponentially since making this! Now, instead of lamenting about the things I can’t eat… I’m going to better the things I can. GF comrades.. don’t give up. With a little time and patience, we can get over missing what we’ve spent a lifetime eating, and in tasty ways.

This recipe, for example, is the first lasagna I’ve ever eaten that did not weight me down afterwards. Instead of my body trying to digest the gluten… it practically rejoiced with not only the extra taste but the nutrition. Remember… green is good!

The final word on this… I usually share what I make in the kitchen. This…? Not so much. As good as it was when first made, like most casserole type dishes, it improved with a day or even two in the fridge. ‘Nuff said~

Zucchini Noodle Lasagna

While the preparation looks long, just remember that you’re basically subbing in zucchini for the pasta and taking the opportunity to add flavour to every layer. Below are guidelines for one small pan, approx. half the size of a 9 x 13″ pan. To feed a crowd, double the ingredients for the larger size – or make 2 of the small and freeze one for future happy days. If you don’t like mushrooms, leave them out or perhaps sauté some bell peppers.

For the zucchini noodles:
Zucchini, 2 medium, washed & ends trimmed
Extra virgin olive oil, approx. 2 tsp.
Salt & pepper to taste
Thyme, basil or marjoram, fresh, 2 tsp chopped

Slice the zucchini either lengthwise or across into 1/4″ slices and brush lightly with the oil. Cook over medium heat in a grill or sauté pan until you see some colour. Season with salt, pepper & herbs, set aside.

For the sauce:
You need enough ingredients to make two layers, with the sauce not too thin – the zucchini will not soak up liquid like pasta.

Ground beef (or turkey) 1/2 lb.
Extra virgin olive oil, 2 tsp.
Onion, 1/2 small, finely chopped
Garlic,  1 clove, minced
Tomato passata (or your fave sauce) 2 cups approx.
Oregano, dried, approx. 1/2 tsp
Salt & pepper to taste

In a medium sized pan, heat the oil and cook the beef & onion until beef is no longer pink. Add the garlic, cook for one more minute until fragrant, then add your passata or other tomato sauce & seasonings, simmer for 5 minutes.

For the mushrooms:
Mushrooms, cremini, portobello, button – or a mix,  approx. 2 cups, sliced
Extra virgin olive oil, approx. 1 tbsp
Thyme, 1 tsp fresh chopped or 1/2 tsp dried.
Salt & pepper to taste

Sauté the mushrooms & thyme in the olive oil over medium heat to get some colour, season with salt & pepper, set aside.

Assembly & cooking:
Mozzarella, grated, approx. 1 cup
Parmigiano, approx. 1/4 cup grated, for the top

Have all ingredients ready for assembly and preheat your oven to 350.
Now build your layers starting with a bit of sauce in the bottom of your pan.
Add a layer of zucchini, then sauce, mushrooms and half the mozzarella
Make another full layer, finishing with the grated parmigiano.
Bake for approx. 30 minutes, until bubbly and golden on top.
Remove from oven, cover and let sit for 10 – 15 minutes before cutting.