This Zucchini lasagna is lighter than your typical lasagna but equally delicious! You won’t even miss the noodles in this healthy flavour-packed dish perfect for the whole family!
Happy New Year everyone!
I know that I kind of fell off the face of the earth last year. Sorry!! Wedding planning took over my life. It was a beautiful time, but now I’m ready to get back to blogging with the start of a new year.
I know that lots of people right now are in “New Year, New Me” mode, but with all of this cold wintery weather, are also craving comfort food. Big dilemma, right? So I thought this would be the perfect time to introduce one of my favourite lightened up recipes!
The problem with a lot of comfort foods is that they tend to be pretty heavy and not always the most waist-friendly options. Which is not such a problem if you’re having them once in a blue moon.
BUT if you’re anything like me and go into hibernation mode during the winter, these types of warm and comforting meals might be happening on a more regular basis.
Comfort foods are some of my favourite recipes to transform into lightened up versions that taste equally amazing to the original version, if not better!
Let’s talk about lasagna for example.
Long strips of noodles, gooey cheese, meat sauce, sometimes a nice cream sauce…YUM, butttt not the lightest recipe of all times. Especially when one small piece never quite seems to be enough.
Now what about if we subbed in long thin strips of zucchini instead of the noodles, used slightly less cheese, and subbed in extra lean ground beef or chicken?
A lightened up version of lasagna that I actually prefer over the regular lasagna!
Why, you might ask?
Well, as weird as it sounds, sometimes I find that regular lasagna gets a little hard and crusty along the top and edges. I’m not sure about you, but I prefer not to have hard chewy noodles and cheese on my lasagna. No hard and chewy noodles allowed!
The moisture from the zucchini noodles solves this problem! Say buh-bye to super hard and chewy noodles.
Plus, the zucchini incorporates another source of veggies AND lowers the overall carbohydrate content, which is perfect if you’re looking for a lighter dish.
When combined with the ricotta cheese, tomato sauce and ground chicken, I swear, this one is a keeper!
Hope you enjoy!!
- 3 large zucchini, washed but not peeled
- 1 tsp. salt
- 2 tsp. olive oil
- 4 garlic cloves, minced
- 1 tsp. fennel seeds
- ¼ tsp. crushed red pepper flakes
- 1 pound extra-lean ground beef (can also used ground chicken)
- 3 cups marinara sauce
- 1 ½ cups ricotta cheese
- ½ cup shredded part-skim mozzarella cheese
- 1 egg
- 1 tsp. ground nutmeg
- 1 tbsp. whole-wheat bread crumbs
- 2 tbsp. freshly grated parmesan cheese
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Spray a 9x13 inch baking dish with non-stick cooking spray.
- Use a microplane slicer to slice the zucchini into long strips, about a ¼ inch thick. Lay zucchini strips on some paper towel in a single layer. Sprinkle both sides of the zucchini strips lightly with salt, and let stand at room temperature for 15 minutes to allow them to sweat out their moisture.
- Meanwhile, heat the oil in a large pot set over medium heat. Add the ground chicken and continue cooking and stirring until the meat is browned, about 3 minutes. Add the garlic, fennel seeds and red pepper flakes and continue to cook for 30 seconds. Stir in the marinara sauce, bring to a simmer, cover and reduce the heat to low. Simmer about 10 minutes.
- In a large bowl, thoroughly combine the ricotta, mozzarella, egg and nutmeg.
- Use fresh paper towel to wipe the salt and moisture from the zucchini strips. Gently squeeze the strips between the fresh paper towels to remove excess moisture.
- Build the lasagna by sprinkling the bottom of the prepared baking dish with 1 teaspoon of whole-wheat bread crumbs. Lay 1/3 of the zucchini slices in the bottom of the pan, overlapping if necessary. Spoon 1/3 of the marinara sauce over them, then spread half the cheese mixture over the sauce. Sprinkle with 1 teaspoon breadcrumbs, and then layer with half of the remaining zucchini slices. Spoon half of the remaining sauce over them, and then spread the rest of the cheese mixture over the top. Sprinkle with remaining 1 teaspoon bread crumbs. Finish with remaining marinara sauce mixture. Sprinkle lightly with grated Parmesan cheese.
- Bake until bubbling, about 50 minutes. Allow to stand for 5 minutes before slicing and serving.