The Challenge: Take a classic recipe, and make a healthier version.
That was the assignment my son, Nick’s girlfriend, Liz, had for her final assignment in a cooking class she is taking as part of her Master’s Degree Program in Nutrition.
We were excited to help her out and have her cook dinner for us last evening.
And she rocked it! This Zucchini Lasagna recipe is a KEEPER! I do believe I like it even better than the classic version.
Liz was sweet enough to allow me to photograph her and share the adventure and recipe here with all of you.
One of the joys of cooking is appreciating and embracing the fresh ingredients that make a recipe so wonderful – like the smell of fresh basil.
And the only thing better than smelling fresh basil is the smell of sauteed onions and garlic in olive oil!
For the meat sauce, Liz used lean ground turkey instead of beef or sausage, and when mixed with crushed tomatoes, fresh basil, onions and garlic, you would never know you are “missing” anything – except you get the bonus of less fat and calories!
This adorable amateur in the kitchen totally mastered using a mandolin (which she formerly only knew as a musical instrument 🙂 ) to perfectly slice the zucchini to replace the pasta noodles.
And of course Mikey was on his steadfast “clean the floor” duty making sure no crumb is left behind (and yes – he even likes raw zucchini).
This recipe even includes mastering the grill, so Nick was in charge of instructions here, and the zucchini strips were char-grilled beautifully.
Yummy ricotta and Parmesan cheeses are mixed with some parsley, salt, pepper, and an egg for the traditional filling.
Everything was layered, using the zucchini strips as “noodles” and topped with fresh slices of mozzarella for that extra yumminess.
And who can’t resist an extra sprinkle of freshly grated Parmesan on top before diving in?!
Here is the recipe Liz used as adapted from Skinnytaste.com:
- 1 lb ground turkey
- 4 cloves garlic, minced
- 1/2 onion, chopped
- 1 tsp olive oil
- salt and pepper to taste
- 1 28 oz can crushed tomatoes
- 4 Tbsp chopped fresh basil
- 4 medium zucchini, sliced thin
- 24 oz part-skim ricotta cheese
- 1 Tbsp fresh or dried parsley
- 1 1/2 lbs. part-skim fresh mozzarella cheese, sliced
- 1/2 cup shredded Parmigiano Reggiano
- 1 large egg
In a medium sauce pan, brown ground turkey. Season with salt. Remove from pan to bowl, and add olive oil to the pan. Saute garlic and onions about 2 minutes. Return the meat to the pan, add tomatoes, basil, salt and pepper.
Simmer for 30-40 minutes, covered.
While sauce is simmering, slice zucchini into 1/8″ thin slices. Salt lightly, and set aside for 10 minutes. Zucchini has a lot of water when cooked, salting it takes out some of the moisture. After about 10 minutes, aggressively blot excess moisture with a paper towel.
On a gas grill or grill pan, grill zucchini on each side, until cooked, about 1-2 minutes per side. Place on paper towels to soak any excess moisture.
Preheat oven to 375° F.
Stir together ricotta and Parmesan cheese, parsley, salt, pepper and egg in a medium bowl.
With zucchini, sauce, and cheese mixture complete, you are ready to begin assembling the lasagna.
In a 9×12 inch casserole, spread half the sauce on the bottom and layer the zucchini to cover. Then place the ricotta cheese mixture topped with half of the mozzarella cheese.
Repeat with remaining sauce, another layer of zucchini, mozzarella and a bit of extra Parmesan.
Cover with foil, and bake for 45 minutes.
Uncover, and bake an additional 15 minutes.
Let stand 10 minutes before serving to “set.”
Thanks, Liz, for being such a good sport and for being such a bright spot in our lives. We love you! 🙂
And you all are going to love this recipe!
Cheers & Hugs,