(Grain-less) Gluten-free Zucchini Lasagna

lasagna pan 1

This has been a crazy couple of weeks, to say the least.  I knew it would be, but even I couldn’t prepare myself for the little wave of panic when I looked at my calendar and saw three tech-to-performance weeks in a row.  There is a reason that the theater industry calls these “hell weeks”…nah, I’m (mostly) joking.  Thankfully, all of these performances are with my children’s company which means: (A) I know those involved, (B) Most of our team has down this before, and (C) We are all awesome enough to make these week run smoothly and simply!  This post has been sitting in my drafts, half-written, for almost a week-and-a-half, and this recipe has been waiting even longer!

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This lasagna was one of the actual “recreation” dinners I made after going gluten-free, and it was also the first time I’d ever tried making lasagna at home.  I was intrigued by the grain-free recipe (one less ingredient to worry about converting to gluten-free–score!) and the extra veggies with zucchini substituting for noodles.  I added more vegetables in the form of onions and peppers, but this recipes is incredibly flexible.  Sub more vegetables in for some or all of the meat, or any more to the onion-pepper mixture.  When I first made this recipe, I sliced the zucchini lengthwise, into long strips like noodles.  These had a tendency to slip out when trying to cut a bite’s-worth, so I recommend cutting into circle crosswise, or peeling the zucchini before slicing it.

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I wish I had had time to make this Lasagna this week (the recipe and photos are from about a month back).  This makes the best leftovers, and we have plenty when I’m only serving dinner to three people.  This comforting dish is the perfect bridge between winter and spring (we’ve just had three days of torrential rain–yuck) and would be the best lunch on my hectic performance days.  I’ve got one more performance weekend, one more week of wrap-up, and then we’ll be off on our relaxing cruise!  I’ll certainly keep you posted before then, and plan to come back with a full review of Royal Caribbean’s gluten-free offerings!

As noted in the recipe below, there is plenty of room to play in this recipe. If you make this vegetarian or vegan, or sub in an awesome ingredient, let me know how it turns out! 🙂

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Zucchini Lasagna (Pasta-less Lasagna)

Serves: 8 | Prep time: 30 minutes

  • 2 large zucchini
  • 1 large onion, finely diced
  • 1 large bell pepper (any color), finely diced
  • 4 cups fresh spinach or kale leaves (kale stems removed), roughly chopped
  • 2 Tbsp fresh basil, finely chopped
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 16 oz ricotta cheese*
  • 1 c. shredded mozzarella cheese*
  • 1/4 c. grated parmesan cheese*
  • 1 lb italian sausage (can replace with equal amounts of another ground meat or finely diced tofu or mushrooms or veggie mix)
  • 2 c. tomato sauce (storebought or homemade), divided

*I’m guessing that you could possibly use cashew ‘cheese’ if you wanted to make this vegan.  I’ve never tried it myself, please let me know how it turns out if you give it a try!

Preheat oven to 375 degrees F.

Slice the zucchini into thin slices crosswise (making circles, not long strips). (Optional–peel zucchini before slicing).  Lay slices out on papertowels and salt generously.  Allow to sit for 5-10 minutes–zuchinni will release some of their liquid.  Crumble sausage/meat/tofu/veggies into a large sauté pan.  Cook completely, then set aside.  Drain grease. Cook chopped onions and peppers in a large sauté pan with minimal oil for about 5-7 minutes, until softened.  Set aside.  Rinse all zucchini well.  Cook zuchinni in sauté pan for about 5 minutes, until slices begin to wilt.  Spread on papertowels and allow to cool.  Cooked spinach/kale in a covered sauté pan until wilted, about 3 minutes.  Mix together wilted greens, basil, garlic, parmesan, 1/4 c. mozzarella, and ricotta cheese in medium bowl.  In separate bowl, mix together onions, peppers, and meat/veggies with 1/2 c. of tomato sauce.  Firmly pat zucchini slices dry

Lightly grease a 9×9″ pan.  Spread  1/2 c. of tomato sauce into the bottom of the pan, coating evenly.  Layer zucchini in even layer, top with cheese mixture then meat/veggie mixture, spreading evenly for each layer.  Top meat/veggie mixture with 1/2 c. of tomato sauce.  Continue this pattern (zucchini, cheese, meat, sauce) until ingredients run out–I got three layers.  Be sure to end with sauce on topmost layer.  Cover with remaining 3/4 c. mozzarella cheese.

Cover pan with aluminum foil.  Bake at 375 degree F for 45 minutes.  Uncover and bake for 10-15 minutes more, until cheese is browned and bubbling.  Allow lasagna to rest for 20 minutes before slicing.

Can be refrigerated in sealed container for up to 4 days.

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Almond-Cauliflower (Grain-less!) Pizza Crust (+ Link Love)

I’ve been on an undeniable veggie kick lately.  My breakfast eggs are suddenly loaded with tomatoes, onions, peppers, spinach, and potatoes; my soups are turning into stews with the sheer amount of vegetables swimming in the broth; stir-fries are invading my daydreams.  I’m guessing it is due to craving the nutrients, now that we are getting close to midwinter and I keep battling bouts of cold and flu that knock me flat for days and then leave me scrambling at work.  Can I apologize any more for the unplanned absence here on this blog?

But I’m returning with a brand new cobbled together recipe and several links to others’ brainchildren.  And all of these recipes have “hidden” veggies.  Or legumes, I suppose, to be vegetation-ally-correct.  Not that I have to hide veggies from anyone, these days, but it’s nice to know I can work in extra nutrients without much fuss.

First, I made Heidi’s Black Bean Brownies.  I was intrigued by this flourless version, as a opposed to brownie-mix recipes around the web, because ‘flourless’, obviously, means one less ingredient to check or adapt to be gluten-free.  I’ll be honest, I started this recipe while I upset with other matters, and didn’t realize it called for a food processor.  Ours has begun its slow death, and after a lot of frustration, I managed to cobble together the recipe.  These brownies taste delicious, deeply chocolate-y, moist and fudgy…nearly too fudgy.  I’m slightly put off by just how much butter is in this recipe (I save my massive-amounts-of-butter-recipes for more precious things like Lemon Curd).  I would like to tweak and play with this recipe, to see if I can reduce the butter and set things up a little better.  These fudgy brownies barely stick together after refrigeration.  Despite our troubles holding them together, we had no trouble finishing off the batch over the next few days.

My second vegetable addition was to my beloved Shepherd’s Pie.  I had some cauliflower to use up, so I cooked that up with a potato or two and pureed/mashed it all in place of the potato topping (still with all of the cheesy, buttery goodness).  I had never had cauliflower mash before, but I love the texture and mild taste it added to the Pie.  I’d like to work in a lot more veggies in this dish, as it’s quickly becoming a house favorite.

Finally, I continue to play with gluten-free pizza crusts and crust-alternatives.  I’d seen recipes for cauliflower crusts, but I didn’t like how much cheese was within the crust.  I have made an All-Cheese Pizza Crust, but I prefer to have my cheesy melty goodness on top of the pizza.  To have it on top and in the crust makes me a little guilty 😉  I also found an almond crust, and played with combining the two to keep the veggies without the massive amounts of cheese, with relative success.

Cauliflower-Almond Pizza Crust, precooked

Almond-Cauliflower Crust

  • -1 c. grated cauliflower (about 1/3 of a head)
  • -1 c. almond meal
  • -2 eggs, lightly beaten
  • -3 Tbsp parmesan cheese
  • -1 garlic clove, minced
  • -2 tsp italian seasoning
  • -1 Tbsp olive oil, plus more for brushing

Preheat oven to 425 degrees F. Grate or food-process the cauliflower into a texture similar to cornmeal.  Microwave the cauliflower without additional liquid for 8 minutes.  In large bowl whisk almond meal, cheese, and seasoning.  Add cauliflower and garlic, mix well.  Stir in eggs and olive oil until thoroughly mixed.  The dough should be slightly wet and sticky, but ball together and stay together with a little pressure (mine looked kind of crumbly, but rolled into a ball as I pulled it out of the bowl).  Line a baking sheet with parchment paper and grease thoroughly (I mean it!)  Spread dough onto baking sheet, pressing flat and into preferred shape.  Lightly brush top with olive oil.  Bake for 15 minute, until crust is golden.  Spread with your preferred toppings (pre-cook any meats and tough vegetables) and broil for 5-10 minutes until toppings are warmed through.

Cooked Crust