Zucchini Lasagna.
A Taste Test.

Quick Cuddles Update
Temperature steady.  Same amount of energy as yesterday.  On Tetracycline for 7 days.
Today Cuddles heartily dined on Romaine lettuce leaves, crumble gruel, a minuscule amount of scrambled eggs and a single cabbage worm.
Weight: Unknown. Will try to do a better job of weighing her tomorrow.

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 Zucchini Lasagna

A Taste Test

 

Hey.  Is that a banana in your pants or are you happily stealing my zucchini?  ‘Cause if  you stole some zucchini from my garden I’m O.K. with that.  Here.  I think you can probably shove more down your pants.  That’s right … just move your junk over and stuff it in there.

It’s that time of year.  Zucchini time.  The portion of summer when the Zucchini Fairy makes its first appearance, dancing from porch to porch and garden to garden dropping off loads of zucchini under the cover of darkness and the pretence of being nice.  Just to be clear, the Zucchini Fairy is not nice. The Zucchini Fairy is foaming at the mouth desperate.

As gardeners we grow things so we can eat them and share with family and friends.  Most plants produce just enough for both.  Except the zucchini. The zucchini plant  is an ever growing monster that starts out cute and cuddly then morphs into a vegetable spitting freak. The plant starts early with a few perfectly formed fruits.  They’re delightful.  Like puppy breath.

You grill them and sautee them and they’re one of the first tastes of summer.  Then all of a sudden that plant is barfing out zucchinis like a drunk at an oyster bar.  The puppy breath has turned to puke breath. Not so cute anymore.

I myself, was the recipient of a Zucchini Fairy gift just last week.

 

zucchini-fairy

 

A whopper.  5.5 pounds of zucchini dropped on my porch tied with a bow.  The mystery fairy long gone, drool flying everywhere and laughing hysterically I’m sure.

 

zucchini-fairy-2

The only problem is that very same day I unloaded 3 of my own zucchinis on relatives.  It’s a never ending vicious circle that will only end when we all explode into flying bits of zucchini bread.

So this summer has been a whirlwind of new zucchini recipe after new zucchini recipe.

In an effort to keep both my lasagna craving and my back fat at bay, I tried substituting lasagna noodles with zucchini noodles the other night.

title

 

 

Zucchini lasagna can be made a few different ways but basically it’s all the same thing to varying degrees.  Instead of using lasagna noodles which are high in carbs, calories, taste and mouth feel, you use strips of zucchini.

You don’t need a special recipe, just use whatever lasagna recipe you normally whip out when the lasagna craving comes along.  You can either substitute all of the noodles for zucchini strips, or just some of them.

 

sliced-zucchini

 

I decided I couldn’t face a lasagna without any noodles in it at all.  Just couldn’t do it.

My lasagna is normally 4 layers, so I decided to make the top and bottom layers with regular pasta noodles and the two inner layers with zucchini noodles.  That way I’d be cutting out half of the calories and carbs without (hopefully) sacrificing any taste at all.

If you have a mandolin use it to get even slices that are about 1/8th of an inch thick or less.  If you don’t have a mandolin, just cut the slides with a knife, like in the photo above.

mandolin

 

Lay your zucchini noodles onto a baking sheet and sprinkle the zucchini with salt.  Not a ton of salt.  Just sprinkle the noodles like you would if you were seasoning potatoes for instance.

Leave the zucchini slices to sit for around a half an hour.

Zucchini is filled with water so the salt will help to draw the moisture out.  If you don’t do this step your lasagna might end up being really watery.  Which is bad. That is a bad lasagna, making you a bad lasagna baker.

 

zucchini-pasta

 

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Once the zucchinis have sat you’ll be able to see all the moisture that’s been drawn out.  Rinse, rinse, rinse, rinse the zucchini noodles.  Because the only thing worst than a watery lasagna is one that tastes like a salt lick.

Once I rinsed my noodles I took it one step further and squished the zucchini noodles in my hand to squeeze out any extra moisture I could.

 

zucchini-noodles

Now just assemble your lasagna.  In my case it was noodles, cheese, meat sauce, zucchini, cheese, meat sauce, zucchini, cheese, meat sauce, noodle, meat sauce, cheese.

 

layering-zucchini-lasagna

 

I threw the casserole in the oven and 45 minutes or so later I came back to a bubbling, gooey lasagna that looked like any other lasagna.  Unless you looked at it from the side, where you could see the zucchini.

 

zucchini-lasagna

 

So the question you’re wondering is, did a zucchini noodle lasagna pass the taste test?

Yes it did.

To be honest I’d still prefer a regular lasagna filled to the brim with actual pasta.  But when you consider cutting out half of the pasta noodles eliminates close to 100 calories per large slice of lasagna … it softens the blow.  You also eliminate almost half the carbs, plus gain all the nutrients from the zucchini.  Zucchini is loaded with vitamins A, C and potassium.

Yes.  Potassium.  Like the banana down your pants.

This is the sort of thing I’d make again, but only if I was overrun with zucchini as I am at the moment.  Yes, you save 100 calories but let’s face it.  That just means you have that whole “100 calories saved” thing in your head.  And more often than not that doesn’t lead to weight loss.

It leads to dessert.

 

Wanna see what that piece of lasagna looked like before I spent half an hour food styling it? Click here for the behind the scenes look.




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65 Comments

  1. Missnicoleo says:

    Oh swoon those gold forks!!!!!!!! Where can I steal them!!!!

    • Karen says:

      I got those at the Christie Antique Show just up the road from me. AREN’T THEY GREAT!!??? Lol. I got them in the spring. $40 for an incomplete set of 12, but really it’s only a complete set of 8, with a few serving pieces. I use it for everyday and love it. ~ karen!

  2. Dana says:

    I have the same gold flatware as you. Maybe it could be our lasagne flatware, so it can get some use!

  3. Go Cuddles! Does she like zucchini? Did you just toy with us about the click here thingy, cause there was no place to click, dang it! Thanks for the update, I think you should do this for awhile cause we will all want to know. Keep on fightin the good fight, both with Cuddles and zucchini. Mine always ends up wormy and I can barely get one (zucchini, that is).

    • Karen says:

      Really? I’ve never heard of a wormy zucchini! You’ve got some bad zucchini luck there. Sorry, I had forgotten to post the link. It’s up now! ~ karen

    • Pennie says:

      Maybe you could get some “medical hooch “snacks for Cuddles to help with her appetite!!! 🙂

  4. SeaDee says:

    I made zucchini lasagna two weeks ago without noddles. Not bad. Since my three zucchini plants seem to be done producing already, tonight I made another lasagna with some of the overload of white scallop squash I have. It’s not nearly as watery so you don’t have to dry it out, and it tasted a bit more like noodles. Yum!

  5. sara says:

    Congratulations on your lasagna and everything, but I have to know what else is on the plate! Are they miniature caprese salads? With balsamic? It’s the prettiest little side I’ve ever seen and I need to make it immediately.

    • Karen says:

      Lol. That’s exactly what is. Once the tomatoes start coming in, I have it pretty much every night. Buffalo mozzarella, basil, olive oil and balsamic. In this case it was mini to atones. Black cherry, Sweet Baby Girl and Fargo Yellow Pear. – karen!

  6. Deb says:

    I have been attempting a no-processed-carb diet (I’m a veritable whore for pasta…any pasta…all pasta), so it’s KILLING me. Ive tried the spaghetti squash with red sauce, blah blah blah, and it’s not even close, so I just accepted that it’s no substitute and ate it like it should be eaten, as a squash. But, the zucchini squash looks like a good alternative.

    My question is, would it freeze well do you think, the zucchini part of it? I’m thinking probably yes since most of the water has been removed.

    I also noticed the flatware which is beautiful, but I only had eyes for the food. It looks heavenly, by the way.

    • Karen says:

      Funny you should mention it Deb. I froze the leftover lasagna and had a piece last night cause I was too tired to cook with Cuddles watch going on. It was perfect. Freeze away. -karen!

    • sara says:

      Have you tried looking up recipes that use julienned zucchini instead of spaghetti? It’s the best pasta replacement I’ve ever tried!

  7. Olga says:

    Oh my God, I just read this to my 6 year old, and he were laughing hysterically. Then he asked me to read it again. lol This is my favorite post! I really can relay to it. Every time I see another huge zucchini in my garden I almost feel like kicking it as hard as I can just to see if it will land at our neighbors front door.

  8. victoria says:

    It’s so great to read your blog at the end of the day and get some good laughs! Zucchini!

  9. Grammy says:

    The very first time I got to try a garden was the first year of my marriage. I didn’t know what to do, and didn’t know anyone who grew things (it was 1979 and everybody was too busy getting stoned in their spare time and grass was ten bucks a lid in those days, so no need to get dirty hands) but I forged bravely ahead. I read that zucchini was good for beginners, so I decided to start my first garden with just that crop and see how it went.

    There were four of us, two adults and two kids (we’d gotten our ‘starter marriages’ out if the way so we were embarking on newlywedded bliss with mouths to feed right at the start). I had no idea what yield to expect, so I opted to begin with what seemed reasonable — three plants per person. One dozen zucchini plants. And it turned out zucchini really is the easiest thing to grow on the planet. And as everyone knows, newbies can NEVER let one thing they grew go to waste.

    Not only did we have a summer filled with zucchini pickles, zucchini bread, zucchini chocolate cake, zucchini grilled, broiled, fried, stuffed, shredded, raw, diced, in soups (hot and cold) and hidden in virtually every dish I made that year, but we lost most of our friends because of gifts of zucchini, one of the children ran away and the other became bulimic. That part about the kids isn’t true, but I have no doubt they contemplated it. And my husband cried when I said I could save some seeds.

    So as good as your lasagne looks, I’m real sure I won’t be serving it. But you go ahead and enjoy! It looks wonderful, and you saved calories for dessert. I have a really good recipe for zucchini chocolate cake, if you’d like it.

    • Nancy Blue Moon says:

      OMG..that is so hilarious Grammy…12 zucchini plants…OMG..

    • Rondina says:

      Grammy, I started the same way, same year. However, the next summer (1980) in Texas was horrible. I was pregnant, morning sick, the temperature was over 100 degrees 65 straight days (still the record), and water was available on odd days between 11 pm and 1 am—by hand only. After two weeks I took the tiller and plowed the whole thing under. I still remember those zucchini bugs. Gross.

      • Tigersmom says:

        That summer still gets talked about here in Dallas! All bad summers go through the comparison. It was the year before I moved here from Houston.

        I feel for you having been pregnant with morning sickness during that. Your misery may have been the only thing that kept you from taking the tiller to more than just zucchini. I would have positively murderous and horribly unpleasant to be around, had it been me.

        • Rondina says:

          Tigersmom & Fellow Cuddles-lover, hello from the big city to the west. We have Houston and Dallas in common also. It’s nice to know someone who remembers that awful year. The world just keeps getting smaller thanks to people like Karen.

    • Tigersmom says:

      Thanks for the bonus chuckles, Grammy. I love that we can count laughs from not only the posts but our commenting community, as well.

    • Ev Wilcox says:

      Hilarious! You write well. Happy Zucchini!

    • Karen says:

      LOL!!!!!!! ~ karen

      • Grammy says:

        Thanks for compliments, fellow TAODS Groupies. Sometimes I think it’s important to try to give Karen a little smile because of all the joy she brings to us on a daily basis. I can’t resist telling my true zucchini story when anyone brings up that lovely, delicious veggie.

  10. Nancy Blue Moon says:

    That looks sooooo good..I would have no trouble eating it as I love veggies..thanks for the tip about drying it first..Please continue to give us a little (or big if needed) update on Cuddles..any bit of info is appreciated as I am worried about her..and you..Hugs..Oh yeah..what are those little tomato thingies on the side..I think I would like them too..

  11. Cynthia says:

    Aha! So that’s where the weird Lssagna Styling post went to from yesterday.

    Looks yum. I use sliced eggplant in lasagna for a similar reason. I also go by the theory that if you eat cake then some some broccoli or cauliflower the lining of the small intestine will be blocked by the greens from absorbing all the carbs and then a big glass of water makes it all swell up and whooosh right through.

    Who cares, it’s fun to have imagination.

    I recently found real sundried tomatoes with no oil in the supermarket and find they add lots of flavour to anything tomatoey. Better than tomato paste or canned tomatoes.

    Did I tell you I gave my silkie chicks molasses and ACV watered down and put into their mash. They went nuts.

    • Karen says:

      LOL. I like your theory Cynthia. Brilliant. I’ll give some molasses a shot with Cuddles for energy. Nice change from honey, lol. ~ karen!

  12. Christy says:

    First off, go Cuddles! The lasagna looks delicious and worth a try. You can also use your zucchini to make Italian zucchini boats which are always a hit when I make them. Just half a zucchini and scoop out a bit down the center and fill with your favorite meat sauce (sometimes I do a spicy turkey sausage or a ground beef or turkey with marinara). I add sautéed garlic, spinach and mushrooms to the sauce. Fill the zucchini boat with the sauce mixture and top with cheese and bake for 10/15 minutes (until the cheese is melted and browned). Enjoy your bountiful harvest! Maybe Cuddles will be willing to take a zucchini off your hands as she continues to improve.

  13. Hazel says:

    It looks gorgeous, but I feel you need the recipe for Delicious Zucchini soup that uses a Lot of Zucchini.

    Coarsely grate lots of courgette (zucchini), including the skin. You won’t be adding anything else, so you do need plenty. Melt lots of butter and cook the courgette in it gently, seasoning with a little salt. Cover and stir occasionally. The liquid will come out of the vegetable. When it’s softened, blitz until smooth (I use my stick blender) and season to taste with pepper, freshly grated nutmeg and more salt if necessary. That’s it -serve! Most people will guess it has added cream (or cheese triangles if they’ve made courgette soup with a secret ingredient) and even my courgette-phobic husband loves it.
    I’ve tried fancying it up with garlic and herbs and honestly, the plain version is better.

    Hope it helps the glut…

    • Karen says:

      HUH! I can’t wait to try that Hazel. You said “blitz”. Are you Australian? English? New Zealand? 🙂 ~ karen!

      • Hazel says:

        Haha! English. I thought ‘courgette’ would give me away (typing zucchini over and over felt weird). I hadn’t thought about ‘blitz’ being cultural.
        Hope you like it anyway, and to echo everyone else, please continue the Cuddles updates. I’ve got chickens and I know how it feels (though I didn’t have anything to suggest and I read the post too late to help.) I spent 15 minutes last night in the dark with a torch between my teeth trying to untangle Nora one of my ex-battery hens (my favourite-shh!) who had got herself trapped in some spare net chicken fencing. I did it in the end (I cut it) but I did think I was going to garotte her at one point. It’s always your favourite.

  14. Lavada says:

    Wait a minute. Temperature steady, high @ 107.5 (yesterday’s update) or 105 where it’s kind of supposed to be? But she’s eating so yay!

    LOVE the scale. Hang in there! You’re a good chicken mom.

  15. Jacquie says:

    I’m so glad you use your gold cutlery everyday. I don’t really understand saving things “for best”. That normally turns into “to leave to someone when I’m dead”. Use beautiful things, that’s what they’re for 🙂

    Happy to hear Cuddles is stable; there’s no way she won’t improve with all the positive energy and prayers flowing her way.

  16. Rondina says:

    My son will love this recipe. I’ll have to get the mandolin to make the thin slices. A good Christmas present for him.

    I like the brief update on Cuddles. Please do those daily so we don’t wonder what is happening.

  17. Tigersmom says:

    Thank you for the update on Cuddles. Good to hear she has an appetite and that you do, too.

    Also good to hear you’re eating tomatoes. Glad you found some you like and fresh ones that have never been refrigerated taste so much better and completely different than the ones at the grocery store, don’t they?

    I wonder if it would work to take a rolling pin to the zucchini after layering it between dishtowels or paper towels to dry further dry it out after rinsing the salt off.

    I also wonder if you have a recommendation for a good mandolin. I bought an inferior one once and haven’t tried another since. And I need one, thanks to you, because in my new binge activity of roasting all vegetables I accidentally discovered how to make homemade potato chips when I was attempting to reduce the time it took to roast them. I’m also convincing myself that they are ok to binge on due to the fact that I have reduced the amount of oil I roast them in by using a Misto olive oil sprayer.

    Leave it to the girl who can turn a 90 calorie baked potato into a 2000 calorie fat fest to stumble on every possible way to un-healthify (actual word, in my house anyway) her new penchant for healthy cooking.

  18. Linda J Howes says:

    I just found a recipe for this the other day and am dying to try it out! I did not grow zucchini this year so alas I have to BUY it. My recipe calls for grilling the zucchini slices first and then assemble the lasagna. I may be a bit more fussy but it may also add a bit more flavour. I am super excited to try this out.
    And God bless Cuddles.

  19. Ruth says:

    Glad to know Cuddles is stable. Here’s hoping we’ll go from stable to much better in a little while. (You never mentioned her poop, by the way.)

    I have never had zucchini… except for that time when I got a packet of Burpee zucchini seeds as a gift… and they turned out to be lettuce seeds. Does that count? I know… I know… we were eating lettuce, but the sealed package said ‘ZUCCHINI’ so that ought to count for something. ^_^
    (Funny thing: Since I had no idea what zucchini seeds looked like, I actually *expected* to harvest zucchini. There I was thinking: ‘Zucchinis resemble cucumbers, so shouldn’t they grow on a vine? What on earth?!’)

    When I finally decided to hit up Google images and saw real zucchini seeds, I was disappointed…. but I had an ongoing lettuce harvest throughout the rainy season (Sept-April) to cheer me up. 🙂

    • Karen says:

      LOL! That’s funny. I bought some Yuca the other day to make fries with (which I’ve never done) but it was labelled something else in the store and I had to look it up on my iPhone to make sure it was the same thing. Had no idea. It was. 🙂 ~ karen

  20. Heather says:

    I am not sure how I happened on your website a few months ago (followed a link from somewhere) & I have been checking it every once in awhile since then. However, you now have me hooked with all your Cuddles posts. I hope Cuddles continues to get better every day.

    As for zucchini , this recipe has been made several times so far this summer in our house. We cannot get enough of them. Zucchini Tots My daughter also loves to make zucchini “noodles” with sauce.

  21. Heather says:

    Not sure why my link didn’t show up. Let’s try again.

    http://www.skinnytaste.com/2012/07/zucchini-tots.html

  22. susan says:

    My mother was queen of “nothing shall be wasted” land and she froze shredded zucchini to use all winter in soups to replace a lot of the water content. Her soups were amazing. I’ve never checked the vitamin and nutrient content of zucchinis but it’s got to be higher than water!

  23. Lynne says:

    If you use the lasagna noodles that don’t require pre-boiling you’ll have less of a problem with the excess moisture that zucchini slices may generate – since the dry noodles need to absorb liquid to soften anyway. I prefer them anyway because

    I like the fact that they are much thinner. Even though I’m as much of a carb ho as anyone – I don’t care for the thick lasagna noodles with the curly edges.

    • Karen says:

      Hi Lynne – These are the no boil noodles. 🙂 (I sometimes make the lasagna pasta but … meh … couldn’t be bothered) ~ karen

  24. Lori Hall says:

    Good morning Karen! This looks great! Have you used a spiralizer and made zucchini “spaghetti” noodles yet? We started that a few months ag0…..my husband didn’t like it as much at first…but now he actually prefers it to pasta…we all do. Now….to convince him to try this lasagna!!

  25. Caroline says:

    Looks and sounds delish but I like my zucchini parm recipe…so easy and healthy…I wrote about it last week in the comments…my mom used to grow zucchini in the mid 70s and that’s how we ate it…btw glad to hear Cuddles is still cuddling!

    • Karen says:

      Zucchini with parmesan is my go to recipe for zucchini! I eat it at least once a week and it really is good! Perfect combination. ~ karen

  26. Ev Wilcox says:

    Thanks for Cuddles update-very considerate. Wouldn’t mind one every post!
    Also thanks for zucc ideas. Our garden is miserable this year due to weather and pure laziness. Other half really likes lasagne, but he is ridiculous picky. May hunt up some zucc from some desperate gardener and give it a go! Your photos are really well done. BTW-my mom used to pull out the gold flatware for dinner as a not-so-subtle way to say “Hey, long time no see”! We were not too fond of that flatware!

  27. Natika says:

    Thanks for including the update about Cuddles. Sort of eases the worry somewhat.

    I need to try this lasagna! I try to cut carbs as much as possible and don’t mind eating veggies, so I thnk I could even handle the completely pasta-free version.

    I also didn’t know zucchinis were so easy to grow. I’ll have to remember for next year. 🙂

  28. Glad to hear Cuddles is still with you! I love zucchini in lasagna. We even had zucchini pasta one night and I loved that too! (zucchini shredded to mimic pasta) Thanks for sharing your recipe!

  29. kate-v says:

    Thank you for the Cuddles update – I was wondering how she is doing. Glad to hear she seems to be getting better.
    Growing up and then when my kids were growing up we’d deliberately leave a few big Zucchini squash on so they would get really, really, really big!! Then we made them into jack-o-lanterns at Halloween – some were so long we could barely scrape all the seeds because our arms wouldn’t reach all the way in to clear them out. They were very cool, scary, long, green faced apparitions lining the driveway.

  30. Suel Anglin says:

    The recipe and photos are great. I’m really looking forward to trying it soon. I love to bake layered foods. But please everyone be very careful using a mandolin slicer. I know from an unfortunate encounter between me, a surplus of sweet potatoes and the mandolin how sharp they are. I ended up at the emergency clinic and left with lots of gauze and a few stitches. I think the next time I use a mandolin I’ll use oyster shucking gloves!
    I’m glad to hear the news is good, hang in there! (with the exception of the cabbage worm, I think Cuddles eats better than I do)

  31. Tracey says:

    Four plants, lots of flowers, not a single zucchini. I’ve even been trying to manually pollinate the flowers, thinking maybe there haven’t been enough bees around. Still nothing. Not even any zucchini fairies in my neighbourhood. Might have to (*gasp*) buy zucchini in August – that never happens!

  32. Carla says:

    Hahaha! I love the post about prolific zucchini. My mom always says that she plants two seeds and prays that one dies! Also saw a bumper sticker once that said “lock your car doors – it’s zucchini season”. 🙂

  33. Shawn Sisler says:

    I’m going to give you my secret to getting my kids to eat zucchini, disguise is as fried mushrooms. Yep I disguise food to get my children to eat vegetables. I’m a bad, bad mom and I don’t give a monkey butt if people complain about it. 🙂 I slice the zucchini into 1/4 rounds, set them out and salt to pull excess liquid from them, then sometime using egg wash and dredging in crushed crackers and peppers, and sometimes using plain old flour, salt and pepper, then fry in a mix of butter and canola oil till lightly browned and crisp. Kids eat them faster than I can get them done. This is the only way they will eat it knowing what it is. I also grate it into spaghetti sauce, pizza sauce, soups, and of course banana or apple bread. It’s mean but if I have to live through their bouts of puberty they are going to make it until I go through menopause. It’s only fair.

  34. Mindy says:

    Sounds delicious to me. I made Zucchini Parmesan a couple nights ago and it was friggin’ amazing. This morning I made pancakes with about a cup of shredded zucchini and blueberries. Again, amazing.

  35. Deb says:

    We used to make zucchini burritos, recipe from a Sunset magazine years ago. Sauteed burritos, onions, etc, tomatoes, spices, put in casserole dish with cheese on top, broil. Scoop into tortillas. Actually, really good.

  36. Deb says:

    Geeez. Sauteed zucchini, not tortillas.

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