Sunday, September 15, 2013

Grilled Zucchini Lasagna

I finally had some time this weekend to spend cooking and brainstorming some healthful alternatives to some of my favorite foods.  I have to say, I don't even consider this lasagna an alternative.  It's just... it's delicious.  Trust me, you won't miss the carbs in this lightened up, noodle-free version.

Zucchini is naturally filled with lots of water, so it's important to take the extra time to drain off as much as you can.  When the lasagna is done cooking, the sauce will be slightly thin as the zucchini releases more water in the oven, but the big chunks of plum tomato stay in tact so you don't lose any flavor.  

* 2 large zucchini
* 1 c. part skim mozzarella cheese
* cooking spray
* 1 lb. extra lean ground beef
* 1 tbsp. olive oil
* 1/2 onion, chopped
* 2 cloves garlic, minced
* 2 tbsp. red wine
* 1 (12 oz) can plum tomatoes with basil
* 1 tsp. dried oregano
* 1 tsp. sugar
* 1 c. low-fat cottage cheese
* 1/4 c. parmesan
* 1 egg
* 1 tbsp. dried parsley

Preheat the oven to 350.  Start by preparing the zucchini.  Using a mandolin, thinly (and carefully!) slice the zucchini lengthwise into 1/4 inch strips. Lay the strips on a paper towel lined cookie sheet and sprinkle with kosher salt.  Set the zucchini aside for 10 minutes or so while the salt works to extract some of the water.

To prepare the filling, combine all ingredients in a bowl.  Set aside.

Meanwhile, start the sauce by adding olive oil to a large pot and heating over medium.  Add the onions and sauté until soft, about five minutes or so.  While the onions are softening, prepare the tomatoes by adding them to a bowl and squeezing them with your hands to break them up.  Once the onions are done cooking, add the garlic to the pan and sauté one minute.  Deglaze the pan with red wine (as the wine bubbles, use a wooden spoon to scrape up any bits in the bottom of the pan), then add the beef to the pan and brown, using a potato masher to break up any large pieces.  When the beef is cooked through, add the tomatoes, oregano, and sugar to the pan.  Reduce heat to low, set aside.

While the sauce is simmering, blot as much water from the zucchini as possible.  Preheat a grill pan to medium heat and spray liberally with cooking spray.  Working in batches, grill each zucchini strip until they have light marks and are softened.  Place the grilled zucchini back on the paper towel lined cookie sheet to drain while the you're cooking the rest.

To assemble the lasagna, spray a 9X12 casserole dish with cooking spray.  Spoon a ladle full of sauce in the bottom and top with a layer of zucchini.  Top zucchini with cheese mixture, more sauce, and then another layer of zucchini.  Repeat these steps, topping the last layer with more zucchini, a small amount of sauce, then mozzarella cheese.  Cover with tin foil and bake for 45 minutes on top of a cookie sheet (mine came close to boiling over, so the cookie sheet is to catch any excess).  Increase the heat to 375, remove foil, and bake an additional 15 minutes.  Let rest a few minutes, then slice and serve.  Enjoy!

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