Gluten Free Lasagna
Who needs pasta noodles in their lasagna when in the summertime, lovely strips of zucchini serve the purpose just fine? I don’t! I love pasta but in this day and age of low carb, gluten free this and that, a great lasagna can be served just the same. I love that a vegetable can be a carb substitute wheather it be a zucchini for lasagna noodles or spaghetti squash for spaghetti. It is great to enjoy the earth’s bounty straight from the garden instead of using processed foods in your favorite meals.
This lasagna is no exception when it comes to savory Italian flavor. I’ve posted a couple of lasagna recipes including meatless and traditional, but gluten free is another variation that is useful to many dietary needs today. You don’t have to sacrifice anything either way.
To substitute noodles I simply marinate 1/4 inch strips of zucchini (cut lengthwise with a cheese slicer or a very sharp knife) in equal measures of olive oil, soy sauce, and red wine with salt, pepper, and garlic powder. After 30 minutes or so I go out to the grill and cook them for a few minutes on each side…just enough to soften them and leave those lovely grill marks top and bottom. I then remove the slices to a plate and construct the rest of the lasagna indoors.
To begin the sauce we will use:
- one clove of garlic minced
- two tablespoons olive oil
- One medium carrot thinly sliced
- two ribs of celery also thinly sliced
- one medium onion diced
- three button mushrooms sliced
- five or six black olives also sliced
- 1/2 green bell pepper diced
- 1 lb. ground beef
- 1 can diced tomato
- 1 small can tomato paste
- 1 tsp basil
Between layers we will use:
- Of course the sauce
- 16 oz. ricotta cheese (low fat cottage cheese also works )
- 8 oz. shredded jack cheese
- 4 oz. mozzarella cheese
- 1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese
- 1 tsp garlic powder, one third per layer
- 1/2 tsp black pepper also divided in thirds
- 1/2 tsp salt in thirds
- 1 tsp Italian seasoning in thirds.
Saute the first seven ingredients of the sauce in a large skillet with the olive oil. Scoot it off to the side and add the ground beef and stir until it is all browned. Add the tomatoes, tomato paste and basil and stir everything together. Let this simmer a good while…about thirty minutes. Add some water or stock if it becomes too thick.
Once the sauce is made, ladle a bit to coat the bottom of a 13″ x 9″ baking pan and dilute it in half with some water…maybe a half a cup to one cup sauce. This thin layer will help later when slicing servings for your guests. Now lay enough strips of the zucchini you have just grilled, and begin begin adding the first layer of filling; ladle on a layer of sauce, add the cheeses, herbs, and spices and repeat for layer two…zucchini, ricotta, cheeses, and spices.
For the top layer lay out the zucchini, ladle on the sauce and only add a generous layer of the jack cheese and a light sprinkle of Parmesan because Parmesan browns more quickly. We want the top to be bubbly, gooey and slightly golden. Bake in a 350° oven for about 30 to 40 minutes.
Allow it to cool slightly before slicing and although this recipe has a long process let me tell you it is well worth the effort. I made this for a friend going through chemo therapy and another time for a friend who had just had knee surgery and has a son who can’t tolerate gluten. This dish worked out well for my friends because the leftovers are just as good if not better and there are lots of servings for a large family. I hope you too get to enjoy the bounty of the earth for what ever you are going through…especially if you don’t want the gluten.