When was the last time you had a slice of good lasagna? I love lasagna but I’ve actually never made it….until now! Yesterday, during my free time I started poking around the Internet for lasagna inspiration and trying to find ways to make my lasagna a bit healthier without sacrificing the rich flavor. In the end I decided to use zucchini (yes, it’s another zucchini recipe) in place of the lasagna noodles and play up the spices a bit more. The result is this zucchini lasagna with fresh basil. This recipe uses turkey but you can use any other protein you’d like.
A couple of notes when making this lasagna: (1) Make your meat sauce a bit thicker than you usually would since the zucchini will give you some extra moisture, (2) Salt and roast you zucchini slices before putting them in the lasagna; this will help eliminate excess water from the zucchini. If you do not follow these steps, don’t be surprised when your lasagna turns out runny.
For the zucchini slices, you may be able to get them already sliced at your supermarket. If you’re slicing them yourself, I recommend using a mandolin slicer. However, BE CAREFUL WITH THESE THINGS. THEY’RE MADE BY THE DEVIL HIMSELF. One day I’ll tell you my gruesome mandoline slicer story that happened to me some years ago. If you don’t have a mandoline slicer, then a knife will do the trick.
And in case you were wondering, here’s the nutrition info per serving (3.25” x 4.5” slice): 255 Cals; 18g Carb; 10g Fat; 24g Protein. For comparison I took a look at one of the “World’s Best Lasagna” recipes; its serving size is a smaller slice (about 2.17” x 4.5”) but it has 455 calories and only 5 more grams of protein. Here’s how I cut out some calories: zucchini instead of lasagna noodles, egg whites instead of whole eggs and using part skim cheeses.
Try this recipe and let me know what you think.
Prep Time: 15 minutes . Cook Time: 90 minutes . Yield: Serves 8
3 Medium Zucchini (~2 lbs), sliced (1/8” to 1/4” thick)
1 Lb Ground Turkey (93/7)
15 Oz Part Skim Ricotta Cheese
1 28-Oz can Crushed Tomatoes
1 Cup Part Skim Mozzarella, grated
1 Cup Fresh Basil, chopped
1/4 Cup Parmesan Cheese, shredded
2 Tbsp No-Salt Tomato Paste
2 Egg Whites
1 Medium Yellow Onion, finely chopped
4 Cloves Garlic, minced
1 Tbsp Olive Oil
1/2 Tbsp Italian Seasoning
1 Tsp Fennel Seeds,
1/4 Tsp Red Pepper Flakes
Salt & Black Pepper to taste
1. Sprinkle salt on zucchini slices. Let zucchini rest for 20-30 minutes in a colander to allow the zucchini to release water.
2. Preheat oven to 325 F. Lightly coat 1 or 2 large baking sheets with cooking spray. Using a paper towel, pat each slice of zucchini dry before placing it onto the baking sheet. Roast for 10 minutes. Remove zucchini from oven; set aside.
3. In a saucepan, heat oil over medium heat. Saute garlic until golden. Add turkey meat and increase heat. Cook turkey until brown while breaking up meat with spoon; season with salt and black pepper. Add onions and cook for another 3 minutes until onions begin to get translucent.
4. Coarsely chop/crack fennel seeds with knife. Add fennel seeds, Italian seasoning and red pepper flakes to saucepan of turkey meat. Toss for about 1 minute then add crushed tomatoes and tomato paste. Bring to a boil then reduce to simmer for 20-30 minutes until sauce is very thick; stir occasionally. You do not want a runny sauce since the zucchini will provide additional moisture. Taste and season with additional salt and spices as desired. Keep in mind that your zucchini slices already have a little salt.
5. While meat sauce is simmering, prepare cheese sauce: In a bowl combine egg whites, ricotta cheese, Parmesan cheese and 2/3 mozzarella cheese. Mix well.
6. To assemble lasagna, first spray a 9” × 13” baking dish with cooking spray. Spread about 1 1/4 cup of meat sauce at the bottom of dish. Assemble one layer of zucchini slices on top of meat sauce. Followed by 1/2 the cheese sauce and 1/3 of the chopped basil. Repeat: meat sauce then zucchini slices then cheese sauce then basil. Top with remaining mozzarella and basil.
7. Bake lasagna for 40 to 50 minutes until top cheese layer bubbles and becomes golden. Let lasagna cool for about 20 minutes before slicing.