Lasagna is a comfort food for me. Occasionally, I have a treat of real cheesy and beefy lasagna. But on most days, my lasagna craving needs to be met the healthier way.
There are a few ways to make lasagna healthier. Using lean ground beef or ground turkey instead of fatty ground meats, using low-fat cheeses, and adding lots of vegetables to your tomato sauce base are great ways to make lasagna healthier and less caloric.
For even more added nutrition, you can take out the noodles and replace them with vegetables. Zucchini is a great tool to become noodles!
There are many ways to do this and many special tools you can buy to help you make zucchini (or any other vegetable) into noodles. But you don’t need to spend any extra money. You can just use a good knife (and be careful of course!).
I used this recipe as my inspiration and basis for this zucchini noodle lasagna.
First, I carefully cut the zucchini into around 1/4 inch thick, long pieces. I had a large zucchini from the farmers market so for making a meal just for 2, I only used 1 large zucchini. (As you will see later in the post, I should have used two!)
I then sprinkled the zucchini slices with salt and baked them in the oven for 15 minutes.
As you can see, they definitely dried out (which is what you want!) and since my knife cuts are less than perfect, some of the thinner edges got a bit brown.
While the zucchini was in the oven, I worked on the sauce. I chopped a whole red onion and sautéed it in a tablespoon of olive oil. Then I added one clove of minced garlic and 1/2 pound of lean ground turkey.
Once the turkey was browned, I added strained tomatoes. The recipe called for cans of tomato sauce and crushed tomatoes. But since I have a nickel allergy and need to avoid canned foods, I bought the closet thing I could to this combination. Pomi makes strained tomatoes that are packaged in a carton, so I used those.
I then added a healthy dash of dried basil and dried parsley, as my fresh herb garden has turned brown in the cold weather.
I simmered the sauce for around 25 minutes until it was thick and delicious!
I let the sauce cool for a while. During that time, I mixed up the cheese base. I used nonfat ricotta cheese (1/2 of a 15 oz carton), 1/8 cup of grated Parmesan cheese and 1/8 cup of carton 100% egg whites.
Finally, it was time to assemble the lasagna.
Put 1/2 the meat sauce on the bottom of a baking dish and top with 1/2 of the zucchini noodles. I didn’t make enough noodles, so I did the best I could to cover the sauce.
Then layer on 1/2 of the ricotta cheese mixture and sprinkle with shredded low-fat mozzarella cheese.
Complete the layers again in the same order: meat sauce, zucchini noodles, ricotta cheese and shredded mozzarella cheese.
Cover and bake for 25 minutes. Then uncover and bake for 8 more minutes.
The results: This was really good! I would make a few changes the next time I make this. One would be to use more zucchini. It ended up being more of a turkey, tomato and cheese casserole than lasagna, and while it was tasty I definitely needed to overlap the zucchini noodles in order to get the lasagna feel. The other would be to salt (to taste) the meat sauce and ricotta cheese mixture. The meal took longer than I thought to cook (about 1.5 hours total with an hour of prep), so I think I just forgot to salt as I went along. But all in all, this was a great and healthy meal.