Thursday, July 21, 2011

Zucchini Lasagna

A few months back I was watching Bobby Flay get his butt kicked over vegetable lasagna on Throwdown when my wife uttered the phrase "I would eat squash if you cooked it like that". I've probably mentioned before my wife loathes all things "squish".  I wasn't going to grow any in the garden this year because I feared divorce her wrath over it. But now I had the go ahead, so there was no way I was passing it up.

One main philosophy I'm trying to stick with in my blog is what's in season, and therefore usually inexpensive (or on sale). Now that it's summer zucchini is plentiful at both the market and in my garden. I retrieved the recipe from the episode as a starting point and got to work. The great difference about this recipe is the lack of noodles. The zucchini, lightly fried, are the noodles. Modified as such, it works as mostly as a traditional lasagna does. When I get tomatoes from my garden to make my own sauce, watch out.
My wife insisted this was "the best thing I have made in a long time".  For a squashaphobe I consider that a big win.  A few health benefits to throw in at the end. This is vegetarian and if you use potato flour you can also make it gluten free. It's also 660 calories for ¼ of the pan (I even measured total volume of oil absorbed from frying), which is a large portion. Beat that, Olive Garden.  And Bobby Flay.

Zucchini Lasagna

Tomato Sauce
1 tablespoon olive oil
1/4 onion, diced
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 (28-ounce) can crushed tomatoes
6 fresh basil leaves, chopped fine
salt and pepper

3/4 cup flour
3 eggs + 6 egg whites
1/4 cup grated Romano cheese
2 cups Canola oil for frying
2 large zucchini, sliced lengthwise about 1/4-thick (use a mandolin if you have it)
salt and pepper

1 pounds light ricotta cheese
6 basil leaves, chopped fine
1 egg
2 cloves garlic, minced
1/4 cup grated Romano cheese
salt and pepper

8 ounces shredded mozzarella

Preheat the oven to 375° F.

For the tomato sauce: Heat the olive oil in a medium saucepan over medium heat, add the onion, cook until softened.  Add garlic and cook additional 30 seconds.  Add tomatoes, salt, pepper, and basil and bring to a simmer. Lower heat to maintain simmer, partially cover, and cook for 30-40 minutes or until thickened.

For the ricotta: in a bowl mix the ricotta, egg, garlic, Romano, salt, and pepper.

For the zucchini: While sauce is simmering, heat oil in large pot or skillet over medium high heat to 350-375°F. Place the flour on a plate. In a glass baking dish (long enough to hold one long slice of zucchini), mix the eggs, egg whites, Romano cheese, salt, and pepper, and Romano cheese with a fork.  Coat the zucchini slices in flour, then dip in the egg mixture, fry on each side until golden brown.  Remove and place on tray lined with paper towels.  Repeat with remaining zucchini, keeping oil temperature around 350°F.

To assemble: In a 9x13  baking dish, spread a small amount of tomato sauce on bottom.  Layer 1/3 of the fried zucchini to cover the bottom of the dish, slightly overlapping the pieces.  Using a spatula, spread 1/3 of the tomato sauce over the zucchini followed by 1/3 of the ricotta mixture and 1 ounce mozzarella. Repeat layering the zucchini, sauce, ricotta, and mozzarella, ending with remaining mozzarella.

Cover the dish in foil and bake for 45 minutes. Remove foil and continue to cook until the top is slightly brown, about 15 minutes more. Cool the lasagna for 15 minutes before serving.