Yes you heard it here first! I am jumping on the gluten-free bandwagon. Not only is gluten the most evil food of all time, it also makes you the fattest! What?! You haven’t heard it yet? Well get out from under that rock, gluten is the devil! Not only is the fattest cut of meat better for you than gluten, BUT JUNK FOOD TOO!!!
Okay, sorry, I had to for a minute, it is just too much fun being on a bandwagon. So the real story of why it is gluten-free is that we are currently living with Colleen’s sister who is celiac (gluten intolerant). I’ll have to give you the back story in a future post, but we have stayed at her house for a couple of weeks and for a couple more until we can move into a new apartment. Since you always want a meal, or at least the main dish, to be some thing everyone can eat, I had to go gluten-free. I got the idea for this gluten-free lasagna from my mom. She goes through times where she can only have limited or no carb intake. So during one of those times she needed to bake a lasagna, but couldn’t eat noodles. So she replaced the noodles for sliced zucchini. And everybody loved it.
To make the noodle free lasagna, you start with your favorite lasagna recipe. The only alteration you have to make is to cross out noodles and replace with thinly sliced zucchini. Since this isn’t my first rodeo I deviated from the recipe just a little. We have created lasagna from this recipe before, and even wrote about it!(Don’t Walk into the Light, Stop at the Lasagna and Zucchini and Pork Lasagna Take II) It appears that we never did tell any of you the recipe. I could go for it is a secret recipe deal, but it isn’t. It’s just some recipe I got off-line.
When thinking about making the lasagna I knew I had to start with the zucchini. I needed thin strips to act like a noodle, and zucchini has moisture in it so I needed to try to get some out if I could, so there was going to be some time waiting for it to dry (I probably could have shortened this for reasons I’ll explain later; I didn’t know it yet). Now you could do the slicing by hand, but that would be hard, and very time-consuming. Luckily I have a mandolin that was given to me by my mom. Colleen is still scared of it to this day, with good reason. I have cut my finger a little bit when I was younger, and my mom sliced her finger tip-off on one before. BE VERY CAREFUL. They are very nice, but very sharp. I started with 4 zucchini and sliced them on the thinnest setting my mandolin slicer had. I then took the slices and spread them out and covered with salt, to pull the moisture out, and paper towels. I did this a couple of times once the paper towel was wet and repeated. After it is all said and done, they were pretty dry.
Now that my “noodles” were ready, it was time to start on the meat and cheese portion of the lasagna. I decided to start with the meat because it’ll take longer than the cheese portion. The recipe I use called for pork sausage, 1 lb. Just the regular tube breakfast sausage. So I tossed that into a pan and started browning it. Our recipe then calls for zucchini to be cut and cooked with the meat. Since there was already plenty of zucchini in the lasagna I decided to add in some onion some garlic and mushrooms. I never had added mushrooms to lasagna before, and it sounded delicious. I proceeded to add everything in the pan and stirred occasionally so I wouldn’t have any burnt parts. After everything was heated and cooked I covered it and set it aside.
Then it’s time for the cheese mixture. Our recipe calls for:
8 oz of mozzarella cheese
16 oz of ricotta cheese
1/4 cup grated parmesan cheese
1 egg white
Then you mix it all together in a bowl. I did change it slightly. The small tubs of ricotta come in 15 oz so I just used that. I also eyeballed the parmesan cheese so who knows how close I was. And instead of an egg white, I just used a whole egg. That mixed quickly so now it is time to put everything together.
You start from the bottom up (duh). Before you lay down the first noodles, zucchini, you want to put a little sauce on the bottom of the pan to prevent sticking. I just used whatever pasta sauce was cheapest from Jewel at the time. I believe it was Jewel brand and just plane marinara sauce is just fine. After shaking the pan to spread a thin layer of sauce I put down my first layer of zucchini noodles. I then put about half the meat mixture and spread it out and then half the cheese layer. After making that it is time for sauce. I believe the recipe calls for 1 cup. Once again I eyeballed the amount of sauce and try to spread it all over. Then you repeat; zucchini noodles, meat mix, cheese mix, and sauce. Since I had lots of zucchini, I put another layer of them on top and covered with the rest of the sauce I had. Then top with a liberal amount of grated parmesan cheese and we are ready for the oven.
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F and bake for around 45 mins, until the parmesan cheese is starting to turn golden, and it is nice and bubbly.
So over all it went great. Everybody loved it, even Eric who doesn’t like zucchini. The flavors were really good, and I think the garlic and onions rounded everything out. It was still really wet and watery though. I spent a while drying the zucchini and I remember my mom had the same problem even though she didn’t dry her zucchini. After the fact I realized that I cooked a bunch of mushrooms and put them in it. Which were delicious. It was my first time doing that, and will not be my last. But I believe that was the reason why it was so watery. The mushrooms. So if you are going to try this with the mushrooms (you should), I wouldn’t worry too much about drying the zucchini. Hell use noodles if you want to. Just boil them to al dente and you are good to go. Also since I’m not used to cooking in this kitchen the size pan was too big. I usually bake with a 9” x 13” pan which is what the recipe is for. I only had a 11” x 15” pan. It worked out fine, and tasted delicious. But I ran low on sauce, and the meat/cheese mixture was not very evenly layered throughout. So that was my notes on this dish. I highly recommend giving it a try, especially if you know or have someone in your family who is celiac or not eating gluten/carbs, it is a great dish for them that they may not have been able to have for a while.