The recipe is fairly standard and there's hardly any need to measure. The important thing here is to use a sauce of good quality. I prefer to make my own and, honestly, the sauce I recommend is almost as easy as opening a jar. I used my adapted version of Marcella Hazan's basic tomato sauce. Its so simple you can make it while the zucchini drains and the flavor is remarkably delicious. I can't imagine why anyone would buy sauce when you can make something so incredible in so little time?!
- one enormous zucchini (or several medium to large)
- two 15 oz. containers of part-skim ricotta cheese
- 1/4 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese
- 1/4 cup chopped fresh parsley
- 2 tbsp. chopped fresh basil
- 1/4 tsp. granulated garlic
- pinch of Kosher salt
- generous grating of fresh nutmeg
- generous grinding of fresh black pepper
- dash of cayenne pepper
- 1 large egg, beaten
- some shredded part-skim mozzarella cheese
- additional grated Parmesan cheese
- basic tomato sauce
Heat a large non-stick pan over high heat and brush it with a very thin layer of oil. Add as many slices as the pan will accommodate and gently brown the zucchini on both side. Do not cook it through, you want just a bit of golden color on each slice. Once lightly browned, remove from pan and reserve. Continue until all of the slices have been browned.
In a large mixing bowl, combine the ricotta, 1/4 of grated Parmesan cheese, the parsley, basil, granulated garlic, salt, nutmeg, black pepper and cayenne. Stir well to combine, taste and adjust the seasoning if necessary. Add the beaten egg and stir well to combine. Reserve.
Pre-heat your oven to 375 degrees F.
Place some tomato sauce the bottom of a 9 x 13 glass or oven-safe baking dish, and add a layer of the sliced zucchini, over-lapping slightly to cover the bottom of the pan. Spread 1/3 of the ricotta mixture over the slices, top with some shredded mozzarella and another layer of tomato sauce, then sprinkle with a bit of grated Parmesan. Repeat until all of the ricotta has been used and end with a layer of sliced zucchini. Top the final layer of slices with an even layer of tomato sauce, mozz and Parm. Bake in the middle of a pre-heated 375 degree oven for 40 to 45 minutes or until hot, bubbling and well-browned on top. Remove from oven and allow the lasagna to cool for at least 5 minutes and up to 10 before serving. Serve and enjoy with additional sauce and grated Parmesan, if desired.
As written, the recipe will serve approximately 8 to 10, depending on portion size.
Certainly, if you want to be fancy, you could slice the zucchini lengthwise to achieve flat strips more similar to lasagna noodles - but, frankly, this one was so big I simply couldn't manage it. And, really, it seems unnecessary. The finished product was every bit as tasty and I didn't have to risk injury to achieve it! Have I mentioned I'm dangerous in the kitchen?!
While there is a bit of work involved here, the dish is well worth the effort. The husband ooh-ed and ahh-ed over the dish and we both cleaned our plates. Unlike traditional lasagna, this is meal is not heavy at all - in fact, its remarkably light. The bonus here is that it truly is South Beach friendly; a lovely way to have your lasagna and eat it too. I loved it!
So, what's your favorite way to use up this ubiquitous end-of-summer veggie? Curious Diva wants to know.