Lasagna with Zucchini & Yellow Squash
You guys, this is one my favorite things I’ve made in a long time. I only tell you that because when I’m searching the internet for inspiration on what to cook, I get lost in the 603 million recipes there are out there. Probably more. Sometimes I just want someone to say: cook Suzy’s hot beef for dinner. It would simplify everything and there wouldn’t be so much wasted time on the net playing culinary mind games.
So I’m telling you, try this! It won’t disappoint. The inspiration behind this recipe is that we love Italian food, but sometimes aren’t in the mood for tons of pasta. Also my husband can be a bit of a broken record sometimes, and every time we eat spaghetti squash, he says “I don’t even miss the pasta. If I was at Terrilli’s enjoying a glass of wine with this I wouldn’t even know the difference.” (Terilli’s is our favorite local Italian joint).
So, I wanted lasagna…but wondered if we could try a version without the noodles (i.e. without the carbs, without the gluten. I had to redeem myself after eating these all week. Though I did eat one after for dessert). I also wanted it to be relatively healthy so used part-skim mozzarella, low fat cottage cheese, and 96% lean ground beef. You guys, I thought this recipe was enough for like 24 people and we literally ate 1/3 of it in one night. So, I don’t know whether to tell you this serves 12 or serves 6. Totally depends on your noodle-less lasagna capacity.
- 1 lb 96% lean ground beef
- ~1/3 lb reduced-fat Jimmy Dean sausage
- 3/4 cup diced white/yellow onion
- 1/2 teaspoon minced garlic (jar), or 1 clove garlic
- 1 small can tomato pasted
- 1 can crushed tomatoes (14.5 oz)
- 1 can diced tomatoes, drained (14.5 oz)
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 1/2 teaspoon pepper
- 1/4 teaspoon oregano
- 2-3 tablespoons fresh chopped basil
Cottage Cheese Layer
- 2 cups lowfat cottage cheese (not nonfat)
- 6 tablespoons grated Parmesan cheese (from the cheese section rather than Kraft)
- 1 egg
- About 4-5 medium summer squash – zucchini and yellow squash
- 4 cups part-skim mozzarella
- ~1/4 cup grated parmesan
Start by making the meat layer. Brown the beef and sausage over medium heat. While cooking, add the diced onion and garlic. Stir and cook until meat is no longer pink. You shouldn’t have much fat here so no need to drain, but if you used fattier beef or more sausage – drain the fat. Stir in the tomato paste, canned tomatoes, and remaining ingredients. Simmer on low for about 25 minutes. Sauce should be thick and meaty, not watery.
Meanwhile, we need to get the excess moisture out of the squash so the lasagna isn’t soggy. This is the most time consuming part of this recipe. First, slice them lengthwise as thin as you can. This would be easier with a mandoline, but I don’t have one so just used a sharp knife and played chicken with my fingers. About 1/8 in thick. But like I said, just as thin as you can. Lay them out on paper towel, and salt them very generously. The salt will draw out some of the moisture. Let sit for 15 minutes, then pat them dry. Next, place the squash into a bowl and microwave for 2 minutes. This will bring out more moisture. Drain the bowl, lay out the squash again and pat them dry. Set aside until ready to use.
In another bowl, mix the cottage cheese, Parmesan, egg, and season with salt & pepper.
Preheat the oven to 375 if ready to cook. I assembled my lasagna and then refrigerated for an hour until I cooked, but either is fine. I was busy putting two tiny humans to bed so wanted to eat later – no advantage to waiting.
Get out a 9×12 inch dish and start to layer:
1st layer: 1/3 of the meat sauce, then 1/3 of the squash (this doesn’t need to be perfect, just lay them side by side, covering most of the dish), then spread 1 cup of the cottage cheese, then ~1.5 cups of mozzarella
2nd layer: 1/3 of the meat sauce, 1/3 of the squash, rest of the cottage cheese, ~1.5 cups mozzarella
3rd layer: Rest of the meat sauce, rest of the squash, and the 1/4 cup parmesan. Season with salt and pepper.
Reserve remaining mozzarella (about 1 cup).
My last layer of squash doesn’t totally cover the top, but that’s ok!
Cover the lasagna with foil and bake for 40 min.
Remove foil and bake for 15 more min to remove any excess moisture.
Then top with remaining cheese (1 cup mozzarella) and broil for 3-5 minutes.
Take out of the oven, and this step is important – let sit for at least 20 minutes before slicing. This will ensure the lasagna stays in tact and you can cut nice clean pieces.
And guess what guys? Even sitting at home, eating this without a glass of wine, we didn’t miss the noodles.