It’s not easy being an Italian-Croatian girl on a grain-free diet. No pasta? No breads? What’s a carb-addict like me to do? Luckily there are many pasta recipes that can be adjusted, and this grain-free zucchini lasagna is one of my favorites. You can make it with all the wonderful ingredients that traditional lasagna has to offer, except with zucchini slices instead of your lasagna noodles.
Of course, the key to any good lasagna is the sauce. I enjoy my own recipe (a simple version of it is included below) but you can substitute your own favorite tomato sauce. I used to make my sauce completely from fresh tomatoes (nothing canned) but that became waaay too labor intensive, so I had to create a shortcut. Hopefully you’ll find this sauce recipe as easy to make as I do. (Note: I normally make my sauce without measuring ingredients, so the measurements below are approximate; please adjust to your liking.) Besides an amazing sauce, there is one other secret that I think makes a terrific lasagna: LESS ricotta. Most lasagna recipes call for a significant amount of ricotta cheese. Of course, this depends on one’s personal taste but for me, when it comes to ricotta, less is more. This advice is inspired by my friend Deanne: she makes my favorite traditional lasagna, so my ricotta/parmesan mix is inspired by her recipe. (Thanks, De!) In addition, I like to use FRESH mozzarella and another cheese to liven it up. But if you prefer, you can use all mozzarella and omit the other cheese (just double the mozzarella amount listed below).
This lasagna can be a little labor intensive, but you get an all-in-one meal (complete with your veggies) and depending on how many people you’re serving, possible leftovers for the next couple of days. Although this recipe is not Paleo, it still can be enjoyed as an occasional indulgence. You’re not left with that heavy feeling after you eat it, and oh yeah, it happens to be delicious! In fact, my hubby says he loves this recipe even more that traditional lasagna. So whether you’re grain-free, watching your carbs or just want to get more veggies into your daily diet, this is a great dish to try. Buon appetito!
- 3-4 Tbsp unrefined coconut oil (or extra virgin olive oil)
- ½ cup onion, diced (optional)
- 4 cloves fresh garlic, chopped
- Two 15 oz cans organic tomato sauce OR one 28-32 oz can crushed tomatoes (recommended brand: Muir Glen is made without sugar and their cans are BPA-free)
- 1 handful fresh basil, chopped (dried basil can also work)
- 1 handful fresh parsley, chopped (dried parsley can also work)
- Seasoning to your taste (like generous amounts of garlic powder, black pepper, and an organic seasoning blend plus a few dashes of mineral sea salt)
In a large saucepan, cook onions in coconut oil (or EVOO) on medium heat for about 2 minutes.
Add garlic and continue cooking for an additional minute. Add canned tomato sauce or crushed tomatoes. Bring to a gentle boil, stirring occasionally, then reduce heat to low.
Stir in basil, parsley and seasoning. Taste your sauce as you go along and continue to season to your desired flavor.
Simmer sauce (partially covered) for 30-60 minutes, allowing it to thicken. (I also like to add about ½ cup filtered water about halfway through, in case some of the sauce has dried up, although this step is optional.) Stir occasionally as your sauce simmers.
While sauce is cooking, begin prepping your lasagna as follows.
- 5-6 large organic zucchini
- 2 pastured eggs
- 8 oz ricotta cheese (you can also use farmer’s cheese)
- 12 oz FRESH mozzarella (regular mozzarella will work too)
- Sliced or shredded cheese of your choice (think provolone, havarti, or jack)
- ½ cup grated parmesan (I use a pecorino/romano/parmesan blend)
- 4 cups tomato/marinara sauce
- 1 lb ground grass-fed beef or organic turkey (optional)
In a large saucepan, prepare your marinara sauce to your liking (or use recipe above). If using ground turkey or beef: brown, drain and add to your simmering sauce (you may need add a little additional sauce when including meat).
Meanwhile, preheat oven to 425 degrees. Slice zucchini into long slices (the length of the zucchini), about ¼ inch thick. Lightly grease two baking sheets (I use a coconut oil spray), lay out slices side by side (don’t pile them on top of one another; allow each piece to rest directly on the baking sheet) and bake for about 20-25 minutes.
While zucchini is baking, mix eggs, ricotta (remember only 8 oz.) and grated parmesan or parmesan blend in a small mixing bowl. This will serve as your “cheese mix.”
Once you’ve removed zucchini from the oven, reduce oven heat to 375 degrees.
Now, to assemble your lasagna: in a 9x12 glass baking dish, spread a thin layer of sauce on the bottom of the dish.
Next, lay out your baked zucchini side by side (like you would lasagna noodles).
Next, scoop out HALF of your “cheese mix” and spread to form a layer over your zucchini (set aside the other half for later).
Next, arrange sliced fresh mozzarella and other sliced/shredded cheese of your choice to form the next layer…remember the cheese will melt and spread so you don’t need to cover every inch (you’ll use about half of your sliced or shredded cheese here).
For the next three layers, repeat the first three steps: a generous layer of sauce, then the rest of your sliced zucchini and then the remainder of your cheese mix.
Finally, spread another generous layer of sauce and top with the remainder of your mozzarella and other cheese.
Bake uncovered in a 375 degree oven for 30-35 minutes or until cheese begins to brown slightly. Let cool for at least 10-15 minutes, as your lasagna will be VERY hot. Enjoy!
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