Thursday, October 6, 2011

One of the World's Best Kept Diet Secrets...

It's no secret around here that I have a major sweet tooth. Unfortunately, that's not the only thing I'm a sucker for. I also love comfort foods, the cheesier the better......especially when the temperatures starts falling (like it rapidly is here in New England). So naturally, lasagna is one of my fave foods that I've been especially looking forward to eating lately. Having a lasagna a few times during the year really isn't a bad thing....but what do you do when you want lasagna on a weekly basis once the cold weather rolls in? Well, my lucky readers, I have the answer for you...................

Zucchini Lasagna!!! The idea is genius. I came across Gina's recipe on one of my favorite healthy cooking blogs: Skinnytaste. The recipe includes all of the typical lasagna ingredients - flavorful, thick sauce, ground meat, and lots of ricotta, parm/reggiano and mozzarella cheese. But no lasagna noodles. That clever Gina simply sliced zucchinis into long, thin strips and replaced the lasagna noodles with this low-cal, low-carb vedgie substitute. With the glorious sauce, fresh basil, loads of cheese and ground meat I can honestly say the lasagna noodles weren't missed and it 100% fulfilled my lasagna craving.

This recipe was simply too good to not share with as many people as possible, so I've posted it below. The only special comment I have regarding the recipe is be sure to read the entire recipe before you begin any steps. I always fall for not doing that, and sure enough, I missed a kind-of-important beginning step, which was to be sure and cut the zucchini and then sprinkle it with salt and let it sit for about 10 minutes before broiling it. This will help zap out moisture, as zucchini is known for retaining a lot of water. Other than that, the steps are easy and it's basically the same process as making lasagna the traditional way.

Wait, I lied - I do have one more special comment regarding this recipe. Gina's version below calls for 93% lean beef; I used 99% fat free turkey. It tasted amazing with turkey and by making this substitution it will definitely reduce the calories/fat in the nutrition information posted below.....that is unless you add in an extra handful of mozzarella cheese like I did.... :-)

Zucchini Lasagna
Servings: 6 • Serving Size: 1/6th • Calories: 418.8 • Fat: 17.6 g • Protein: 39.2 g • Carb: 20.9 g • Fiber: 3.1 g 
  • 1 lb 93% lean beef
  • 3 cloves garlic
  • 1/2 onion
  • 1 tsp olive oil
  • salt and pepper
  • 28 oz can crushed tomatoes
  • 2 tbsp chopped fresh basil
  • 3 medium zucchini, sliced 1/8" thick
  • 15 oz fat free ricotta
  • 16 oz reduced fat mozzarella cheese, shredded (Weight Watchers)
  • 1/4 cup Parmigiano Reggiano
  • 1 large egg
On a gas grill or in the broiler, grill zucchini on each side, until cooked, about 1-2 minutes per side.

In a medium sauce pan, brown meat and season with salt. When cooked drain in colander to remove any fat. Add olive oil to the pan and saute garlic and onions about 2 minutes. Return the meat to the pan, add tomatoes, basil, salt and pepper. Simmer on low for at least 30-40minutes, covered. Do not add extra water, the sauce should be thick.

Meanwhile, slice zucchini into 1/8" thick slices, add salt and set aside or 10 minutes. Zucchini has a lot of water when cooked, salting it takes out a lot of moisture. After 10 minutes, blot excess moisture with a paper towel.

In a medium bowl mix ricotta cheese, parmesan cheese and egg. Stir well.

Preheat oven to 350°

In a 9x12 casserole spread some sauce on the bottom and layer the zucchini to cover. Then place some of the ricotta cheese mixture, then top with the mozzarella cheese and repeat the process until all your ingredients are used up. Top with sauce and mozzarella and cover with foil.

Bake 45 minutes covered at 375°, then uncovered 15 minutes. Let stand about 5 - 10 minutes before serving.

 Bon Appetit! Does anyone else have any other healthy recipes to share??! Do tell!

1 comment:

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