Saturday, February 9, 2013

Zucchini Lasagna - YUMMY!!!

Recipe Number Two, and let me just say, WOW!  

I got this recipe off of Pinterest; however, it's original source is from a little foodie blog called "Jo and Sue."  You can find them at:

This is a Pinterest recipe, and I pinned it for two reasons:  (1) my husband loves my lasagna recipe (which is really my mother's, which is a hybrid of 2 other recipes she tried), but would like it if I would use less pasta.  He grew up eating Mexican food all the time: beans, tortillas, and the like.  Not a lot of noodles.  So, they sit heavier on his stomach than he likes; (2) my sister's mother-in-law had sent some zucchini lasagna home with her once, and I got to try it and was instantly smitten.  So...I've been wanting a recipe ever since.  This one, as it turns out, has tons of veggies, and I am always looking for ways to get my kids to eat more vegetables, especially if I can disguise them as something they'd rather eat, like 

Enter this recipe!  

This recipe has tons going for it:  ground turkey rather than ground beef; a whole head of broccoli; a whole head of cauliflower, 2 cups of spinach, and marinara sauce.  

I added a few of my own tweaks:  a whole onion, while browning the turkey; red pepper flakes; freshly ground black pepper; and finally, some grape tomatoes I had roasted last week (with olive oil, Italian seasoning, garlic powder, some salt, and some freshly ground black pepper) before they could go bad on me!

My experience making this recipe: 

Browning the turkey and onion together, I was already liking it.  I've used ground turkey before in some recipes, BEFORE I KNEW HOW, and was not impressed with the lack of flavor.  This was years ago, though, and I was not aware that it would not taste the same as ground beef; therefore, I didn't season it the way that I needed to.  But, with a chopped yellow onion, it smells really good!  And with garlic powder and red pepper flakes, it smells even better.  But, in case that wasn't enough, then it was time to add the other ingredients.  The first thing I added was my own roasted tomatoes, and it just got better!  Next I added the marinara, broccoli, and cauliflower.  After those vegetables my pot was full.  

Now, I've cooked with fresh vegetables enough to know that they will cook WAY down, but I was still nervous to see how full my pot was, and I hadn't even added the spinach yet.  I was debating whether or not to even try.  I thought:  "Well, I can always use it for something else."  Of course, I probably wouldn't, and it would be thrown away after it sat in the refrigerator long enough to get funky smelling, which happens more than I care to admit.

But... the broccoli and cauliflower did cook down, and there was room in my pot for the full 2 cups of spinach, and that cooked down too.  Thankfully!  Funny how you can "know" a thing, but then still have to see it to believe it!  

Once it had cooked down a fair amount, I tasted it, and it was a bit bland.  The recipe doesn't call for much salt, so I'm sure that's why it was not as flavorful as I'd like.  Furthermore, comments on the blog concerning the recipe mention that a few of the people had an issue with the final product being a little more watery than they'd like.  SO...I added more salt, and let it cook down even longer.

In the meantime, I prepped the zucchini.  A few words about that:

          1.  I did not like trying to slice the zucchini lengthwise.  I should've done what Rachel Ray recommends, and sliced a bit off one side so that it had a base to sit on.  I'll do that next time!  Trying to keep a zucchini from rolling and trying to slice it into uniform pieces is more than I am capable to doing.

          2.  The blog says to roast the zucchini for 5 minutes on each side at 425.  I did this, but only after I salted it for a while to draw out the juices.  I wanted to make doubly sure that my lasagna was not overly watery.  This worked extremely well for the pieces that were decently thick, but on the slices that were too thin, not so much.  When I baked the thin pieces (on silicon sheet pans, rather than cookie sheets with parchment paper), after they had been salted, they wanted to stick to the pan. 

Finally, the sauce had cooked down sufficiently, and I tried it again, and I LOVED it!  That being said, my kids, who were sitting in the living room, were less than impressed with the smell.  Admittedly, I am not fond of the smell of broccoli when it cooks, but I could smell it the way they were.  After I had the lasagna in the oven, I found out that they had tried to make a deal with their father to get out of eating the meal because they were not fond of the smell of the sauce.

Personally, I didn't really care, because I had already tasted it and knew that I was probably going to like it.  However, I have not gone into this project with the impression that they, or I, will like everything that I make over the next year.  My only issue is with their deciding they aren't going to like it before they even try it.  However, whenever I try a new recipe, I employ a tactic I learned from a friend of mine called the "no-thank-you bite."  You don't have to like it.  I can't dictate that.  But you do have to try it.  

Before buying the ingredients for the lasagna, I read through the comments on the blog.  There were a few comments regarding ricotta cheese, and the success those who used it had had (the original recipe calls for cottage cheese), and since I hadn't used it before, I decided to try ricotta rather than cottage cheese.  Again, A BIG SUCCESS!  

After I had the lasagna in the oven, I called my husband into the kitchen to try the sauce, to give me his opinion.  He said it was good, but seemed like it was missing something, that maybe it would be better all put together, with the cheese, and everything.  So, I took a bite of the sauce, and a bit of the left-over ricotta/parmesan mixture and - LET ME TELL YOU -  I could've just eaten those two things together.  A bite of cheese filling and a bite of sauce!  YUM!  Another bite of both delivered to my man, and we both confirmed his previous suspicions:  SAUCE + CHEESE = FANTASTIC!

Finally, an hour and 10 minutes later, it was time to dish out the lasagna.  The kids both received their "no-thank-you bite" and my man and I dished out our bowls.  And my kids - who had tried to wrangle their way out of eating the meal I so lovingly prepared for them became converts!  Any my husband, who suspected he was going to like it after trying the sauce/cheese combination, sat down with his bowl and did not put the bowl down to take so much as even a drink of Coke until after his bowl was empty!  

the gorgeous masterpiece

As for me, well...I've been doing this whole Weight Watchers/points counting thing long enough now that my stomach has shrunk to about the size of a pea.  I ate a little less than half of my serving (about 6 decent-sized bites) and I was full.  But man, were those bites heavenly!  

and, from the top
This lasagna was so good, in fact, that my husband and I decided that this is going to be the lasagna I take to our church for our annual couple's Valentine's dinner!  All I'll have to do is double the recipe!

YEEHAW! for a big hit!  I do love my mama's lasagna recipe, and this one will never be able to replace it, but it is a healthy alternative which will enable me to be able to eat more lasagna more often!  So...SCORE!!

A couple quick notes:  
          1.  During assembly, after each layer of the ricotta/parmesan filling mix, I also added a thin layer of mozzarella cheese.  

2.  I had enough sauce left over, for another whole lasagna.

Finally, here is the link that will take you right to the recipe!  Try it!  I think you'll be impressed.

1 comment:

  1. So happy that you enjoyed it as much as we do!! Thank you for linking back to us :)