Home News Gretchen’s table: Lasagna replaces pasta with low-calorie zucchini

Gretchen’s table: Lasagna replaces pasta with low-calorie zucchini

Gretchen McKay | (TNS) Pittsburgh Post-Gazette

I’m a pasta fanatic — pappardelle with Bolognese and clouds of Parmesan is a particular fave — but I’m no longer running mile after mile each week to train for races, so it’s probably a good idea to cut back on the carb-loading.

A video on my social media feed reminded me that sliced zucchini squash makes an inexpensive, low-cal substitute for lasagna noodles, and it doesn’t require a lot of fuss to prepare. So I set out to make the traditional Northern Italian dish using panko-and-Parmesan coated strips of the veggie instead of the flat, wide sheets of pasta.

One reason to fall in love with zucchini is that it has a very mild taste, which makes it easy to incorporate into many different recipes. Another is that it’s super good for you. A source of fiber and folate, which aids in digestion and metabolism, the green summer squash is also high in magnesium and vitamin C.

Zucchini are also pretty easy to find in even the smallest grocery store. And in just a few weeks, it will be ubiquitous at farmers markets both large and small as well as countless backyard gardens — sometimes for free, if your green-thumbed neighbors are generous.

I considered this dish a test run for what I hope will be a veggie-forward summer in the kitchen. In addition to the cheese-coated zucchini planks, the recipe features an easy meat-and-tomato sauce and two cheeses: shredded mozzarella and dollops of ricotta. Designed to serve just two or three people, it’s made in a loaf pan for just four or five slices.

This dish isn’t for everyone: Both my daughters responded with a “gag” emoji when I told them the lasagna included a simple meat sauce. But that’s an easy enough fix if you’re 100% vegetarian — simply omit and make up the difference with a little more cheese, or substitute a plain tomato sauce. Either way, it’s both filling and pretty tasty.

With a loaf pan and some sauce, it's easy to turn summer's zucchini into a cheesy lasagna. (Gretchen McKay/Pittsburgh Post-Gazette/TNS)
With a loaf pan and some sauce, it’s easy to turn summer’s zucchini into a cheesy lasagna. (Gretchen McKay/Pittsburgh Post-Gazette/TNS)

Pan Zucchini Lasagna

PG tested

2 medium zucchini, ends trimmed

1 egg

1 cup panko breadcrumbs

1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese

2 teaspoons Italian seasoning, divided

Olive oil, for pan

1 clove garlic, minced

1/2 onion, chopped

1/2 pound ground beef

1/2 cup canned tomatoes

Red pepper flakes

Salt and pepper

8 ounces shredded mozzarella

1/3 cup ricotta

1 tablespoon chopped fresh parsley

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line a loaf pan with overhanging strips of parchment paper (so you can lift the lasagna out after cooking).

With sharp kitchen knife or mandoline, slice zucchini into very thin slices.

In large bowl, beat egg with a little water. In a second bowl, stir together panko, grated Parmesan and 1 teaspoon Italian seasoning. Dip zucchini slices into egg, then into the panko mixture and press so the crumbs adhere. Place on a plate and set aside while you make sauce.

Pour a glug of oil into a large saute pan and heat over medium heat. Add onion and cook until translucent, about 3 minutes. Add garlic and cook until fragrant, about 1 minute, then stir in ground beef. Cook, breaking up with a fork or spoon, until meat is browned.

Add canned tomatoes and red pepper flakes and stir to combine. Cook for about 2 minutes, then season to taste with salt and pepper.

Place a layer of breaded zucchini in the bottom of the prepared loaf pan. Top with 1/3 of the mozzarella cheese, and 1/3 of sauce. Dot with 1/3 of the ricotta. Repeat two more times for three layers, then sprinkle the chopped parsley on top.

Place in preheated oven and bake for 35-40 minutes, or until and top are bubbly and slightly crispy. Remove from oven and allow to sit for 5-10 minutes before slicing.

Serves 4.

— Gretchen McKay, Post-Gazette


©2024 PG Publishing Co. Visit at post-gazette.com. Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.


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