I have so much to tell you about this lasagna, and I want to say it all at once. In no particular order – or, all at once, if that were possible:
- It’s DELICIOUS. The ricotta and mozzarella you crave from lasagna, and the rich vegetable flavors of ratatouille, together in one casserole. Mmm, mmm, mmm.
- Healthy twists in this recipe will give you a break from your standard lasagna, without sacrificing taste.
- There are no noodles; and you will not miss them. Before you wince/ furrow your brow/ make that face I make when I pick up my work iPhone … try it. This recipe has so much going on, that I will bet you will not miss the carbs and calories.
- This dish has up to 6 vegetables woven through its layers – some in substantial amounts – so you don’t need to mess around with a side dish to get in your veggies. Zucchini, yellow squash, onion, eggplant, roasted red peppers, and a whole lotta tomato sauce. I want to bring this dish to work for lunch every day, for this reason (among like 30 others).
- It takes a little while to compile the parts, but the effort is so worth it. Pin or bookmark this one for the first shut-in snow day of the season. You will not be disappointed! It is also a great summer dish to keep in mind, overflowing with the aforementioned veggies.
- This lasagna is hearty enough without meat, but I’m a meat-lover; it is great both ways. In this recipe, I use ground bison, which I was surprised to realize actually meshed with the rich flavors a lot better in this dish than ground beef.
- You can use some shortcuts if you want, or make this your ultimate signature dish, with all components home-made. Try your hand at making your own ricotta cheese, or pick up a pint at the store. Roast your own red peppers, or grab a jar. Roast an eggplant from the farmer’s market, or grab some pre-roasted slices from a grocery store salad bar. Not in the mood to make your own sauce (although it only takes a few minutes)? Use a jar from the store and augment it with meat and veggies.
The layers that comprise this ultimate dish are: the “noodles” made from zucchini, sauce (includes roasted red peppers, roasted eggplant, and ground meat, if using), ricotta (includes egg and parmesan cheese), and mozzarella.
For the zucchini “noodles” … I am a mere novice in the zucchini noodle trend, but this lasagna was a great gateway recipe for me. I don’t have a “spiralizer,” and you don’t need one for this dish. What I do have is a cheap mandolin slicer that is not very photo-worthy. I use it on the thinnest setting to slice two zucchini and one yellow squash long-ways (to look as much like lasagna noodles as possible). If you don’t have a mandolin, you can try a veggie peeler, and press very hard to make thick strips. You will need two to three squash; my lasagnas have ended up needing more than one zucchini, and one yellow squash.
Have a plate nearby, and a roll of paper towels. Put a paper towel on the plate, and line it with a single layer of zucchini. Very lightly salt the zucchini – very lightly. Cover with more paper towel, and repeat through at least one and a half zucchinis. Slice the yellow squash, but you don’t have to salt it; yellow squash does not have the same water to sweat out that the zucchini does.
For the sauce, you can roast the eggplant and red pepper in advance, or do the roasting while you are making the ricotta, if you choose to make that cheese yourself. For the eggplant, cut it in to 1/2″ to 1/4″ cubes – as long as they are uniformly sized. Toss with a little olive oil and roast at 425 until it softens and browns, about 20 minutes.
To roast the red peppers, follow these instructions.
If you are making the ricotta yourself, you will need to make twice the batch that is in my recipe. I would make it in two batches, because it will take a long time for twice the amount of milk to come to a boil at a low temperature.
- 3 squash (I use two zucchini and one yellow)
- kosher salt
- .5 sweet onion, diced
- 1 lb ground bison
- 2-4 cloves garlic, sliced
- 3 T tomato paste
- 1 28-oz can crushed tomatoes (or same with basil added)
- .5 to 1 eggplant, diced to .5" or .25"
- 1 red pepper, roasted, peeled, sliced, and diced (or use a small jar, and dice)
- .5 t dried oregano
- .5 t dried basil
- 1 egg
- about 2 c ricotta cheese (double this recipe, or purchase a pint)
- .25 c grated parmesan cheese
- .5 t kosher salt
- 4 c shredded mozzerella
- Slice the zucchini and yellow squash long-ways on a mandolin, or press very hard using a veggie peeler to get the widest strip you can. You may want to make a flat bottom on the zucchini if you use a veggie peeler, so it doesn't get slippery and roll away.
- Lay the slices in a single layer on paper towel, and very very lightly sprinkle zucchini with salt. Cover with paper towel and repeat with the rest of the zucchini. You don't need to salt the yellow squash.
- Let sit for 10-15 minutes.
- Roast the eggplant on a large rimmed sheet pan at 375 or 400 for 15-20 minutes, until it browns a bit. Toss as necessary during roasting.
- Heat a medium-sized dutch oven or pot over medium-high heat. When it has heated, add some extra virgin olive oil.
- When the oil has heated, add the diced sweet onion. Sautee until softened and browned.
- Add the ground bison, and cook until browned through, breaking it up with a wooden spoon as it cooks.
- Add the garlic when the bison is almost done browning.
- Once it has browned, add the 3 T tomato paste, and stir it in to onions and meat.
- Add the crushed tomatoes, and stir through to incorporate.
- Add the roasted eggplant, and diced roasted red pepper. Stir to incorporate.
- Add the oregano and basil, and stir. If it seems a bit thick, add half a cup of water. Simmer on low until you are ready to use it.
- In a medium bowl, scramble the egg with a fork. Add the ricotta and parmesan cheeses and salt, and stir until uniform.
- Heat the oven to 375.
- In a 9" x 13" pan, scoop ½ cup of the sauce and spread around the bottom of the pan.
- Layer with a single layer of zucchini/yellow squash.
- Divide the ricotta in to 4 portions (eye it), and layer one of the portions on top of the zucchini. It may be easier to spread it around if you dab it on in teaspoons or tablespoons.
- Sprinkle less than a cup of mozzarella on top.
- Add another layer of zucchini/yellow squash; add sauce to cover; add ricotta, and finish with mozzarella.
- Repeat another layer of zucchini/yellow squash, sauce, ricotta, and mozzarella.
- End with a final layer of zucchini/yellow squash and top with sauce.
- Cover in aluminum foil, and bake for 30 minutes.
- After 30 minutes, remove the foil, and add the remaining mozzarella.
- Bake for an additional 10-15 minutes, until the cheese melts and any extra liquid evaporates.
- This part is so hard, but it's worth it. If you let the lasagna set for about 10-15 minutes, it will cut much cleaner!
This is a great recipe to assemble on a Sunday, and bake on Monday or Tuesday. I have served it to company several times, to great reviews. As I mentioned above, this is a great work lunch. I love bringing casseroles for lunch – they are easy to pack, travel well, heat in the office microwave in 90-120 seconds, and are filling to get me through the afternoon.
Inspired by this recipe: http://www.epicurious.com/recipes/food/views/noodle-less-zucchini-lasagna-51252310