Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Zucchini Lasagna: A Noodle-less & Meat-less Lasagna Version

Have you seen the movie, Cloudy With A Chance Of Meatballs?  Everyone in my family loved that movie because we all love to eat.  Lately, it seems that I have been living out the movie!  Only in my case, it seems like I have a cheese cloud following me the past two weeks!  It is surely heaven for this cheese-lover!  I have to quickly bring out all my recipes with cheese... savory and sweet!
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As promised, I am going to share with you my recipe for a meat-less and noodle-less lasagna. This is perfect when you want to feed your family something light, because aside from having less carbo, it is also guilt-free because it is a vegetarian lasagna, too.

This recipe replaces the lasagna noodles with thinly sliced zucchini, and is such a yummy way to lessen gluten intake. My kids all suffer from skin-asthma, and I've noticed that their skin erupt in rashes if they eat too much gluten. So, as much as they love pasta, I have set a limit to how much pasta they can consume.
Since it is meat-less and noodle-less, I feel like we should balance it all out by indulging in cheese - lots and lots of it!  The topping and filling includes lots of cheese, your kids won't even notice the veggies!

Phenomenal Tip: 
1. You can use a mandolin to make easy work of slicing the zucchini into thinly, uniformed strips.
2. Make sure to salt and grill the zucchini to keep the zucchini from watering down the dish. I also laid the zucchini strips on a paper towel to absorb the extra moisture.
3. You can make the tomato sauce ahead of time to speed things up a little.
4.  The recipe calls for a 9x13 baking dish, but I actually used 3 smaller Lock & Lock Boroseal containers, which are lidded and oven safe containers, which can easily make the transition from oven to dining table. One for eating right away, and the other two for reheating at any time within the next few days.
5.  If you feel like adding meat to this dish, go ahead and cook lean ground beef and add them with the layers.

Hurry, make a trip to the grocery if the ingredients listed here are not in your pantry.
INGREDIENTS:
For the tomato sauce:
1 tablespoon olive oil
1/2 medium onion, diced
3 garlic clove, finely chopped
1/8 teaspoon red pepper flakes, optional
1 (14.5-ounce) can tomato sauce
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt, plus more for seasoning
For the filling:
1 container cottage cheese
1 cup Perfect Italiano grated Parmesan cheese
1 can Cream of Mushroom
½ cup water or milk
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1 egg
For the vegetables:
3 large sized zucchini, ends trimmed and sliced lengthwise
1 small head of broccoli, just use the florets
1 medium sized carrots, cubed
1 pack button mushrooms (about 300 grams), stems trimmed and sliced 1/4 inch thick
Kosher salt
Freshly ground black pepper
Olive oil spray

To assemble:
4 cups Perfect Italiano grated mozzarella cheese

DIRECTIONS:
For the sauce:

1. Heat medium sauce pan over medium heat.
2. Add the onion, season with salt, and cook until softened and translucent. Add the garlic and pepper flakes and cook, stirring occasionally, until fragrant.
3. Add the tomato sauce, and salt, stir to combine, and bring to a boil.
4. Reduce the heat to medium low and simmer until the flavors meld and the sauce has slightly thickened, about 40-45 minutes. Do not add extra water, the sauce should be thick.
5. Remove from the heat. Meanwhile, make the filling and cook the vegetables.
For the Vegetables:
1. Preheat oven to 375°.
2. slice zucchini with a mandolin or knife, lightly salt and set aside or 10-15 minutes to let their water come out. Zucchini has a lot of water when cooked, and salting it helps to take out a lot of moisture. After 10-a5 minutes, blot excess moisture with a paper towel.
3. On a grill pan, grill zucchini on each side, until slightly cooked, about 1-2 minutes per side. Place on paper towels to soak any excess moisture.
4. Heat 1 tablespoon of the oil in a large frying pan over medium-high heat until shimmering. Add half of the mushrooms, season with salt and pepper, and cook, stirring rarely, until golden brown, about 6 minutes. Transfer to a large bowl. Repeat process with the remaining half.
5. Add the remaining tablespoon of oil to the pan and heat over medium-high heat until shimmering. Add the carrots and brocolli, season with salt and pepper, and cook, stirring occasionally, until slightly cookied, about 3-5 minutes. Transfer to the bowl with the mushrooms.

For the filling:
In a medium bowl mix all the filling ingredients. Stir well.

Assembly:
1. In a 9x13 baking dish, spread some sauce on the bottom and layer the zucchini to cover, slightly overlapping each one on top of the sauce.
2. Then place some of the parmesan-cottage cheese mixture, then top with the mozzarella cheese and repeat the process until all your ingredients are used up. Top with sauce and mozzarella
3.  Bake uncovered until the sauce is bubbling around the edges and the top is browned, about 40 minutes. Remove the pan to a wire rack and let cool for 30 minutes before slicing.

If you want to get inspired to cook new dishes for your family, go to the Perfect Italiano recipe page, where they share a lot of easy to do recipes which your family will surely enjoy!
Check back again soon because I will be sharing more recipes in the coming days!

To know more about Perfect Italiano:
webpage:  http://perfectitaliano.com.ph/
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