Zoodle Pho (AIP, Whole30, Paleo, GF)

titleAs I promised on instagram, after it appeared in my meal plan twice in as many weeks, today I am bringing you Zoodle Pho.  This is one of my favorite dishes, and has been super easy to make AIP-compliant.  Just cut the rice noodles, bean sprouts, spicy peppers, and anise seed.  Replace with some equally flavorful, AIP-compliant ingredients.

All of you anti-zoodlers, wait!  Don’t go!  I admit, I too, am really not a fan of zoodles.  (Did you know that in the UK, since zucchini are called courgettes, some people call zoodles “courgetti”–like spaghetti, but courj instead of spag?)  I might like the term courgetti better…But whatever you call them, I am now a zoodle acceptor!  At least, in pho.  I think, since there are so many other tidbits in pho: herbs, meat, etc, that you are slurping up with the zoodles, the difference in noodle texture is less noticeable.  Plus, it pack a little more vegetables into this dish, which is always a plus.

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Pho relies on really good broth–it’s one of those dishes where bone broth really stands out.  And that means that it is extra good for you while on AIP, since bone broth is an important part of the protocol.  In fact, I’ve been adding additional gelatin and collagen to my pho stock whilst on the AI Protocol.  These additions are included in the directions, but are optional, of course.  If you only have regular broth, adding gelatin and collagen can round it out, adding that silky sort of touch that is so nice in pho.

I always do my pho broth in a crockpot, so dinner is quick to assemble when I get home from work, but I’ve included stovetop directions as well.  I also make my own bone broth fairly regularly, to help with our food waste, so I usually have a stash in the freezer.  I flavor my pho broth with onion, ginger, garlic, fish sauce, a touch of sweetener, cinnamon, cloves, and–usually–anise seed.  Anise is not AIP compliant, since it is a seed pod.  (Cloves are, but I cannot remember the rationale…must not actually be a seedpod…maybe they are berries?)  In lieu of the licorice-y anise seed, I turned to another source of licorice-y flavor: fennel.  The actual vegetable, not fennel seeds–which are not AIP compliant.  Thai basil can also taste a little like licorice, and would be a good addition, if you can get your hands on it.

If I have a few extra minutes in the morning, I like to broil my fresh vegetables and roots before I add them to the broth, just until they start to blacken.  The char adds nice flavor.  I, obviously, do not stick the dried spices under the broiler, because they would burn.  So the broiled veg + dry spices go into the crockpot with the broth (and gelatin) and spend 8-10 hours infusing into a delicious, delicious broth for the soup.

Then, at dinner time, it’s just a matter of chopping any fresh toppings and cooking up the meat.  Spiralize up some zoodles/courgetti, plunk it all in a bowl,top it with piping hot broth, and dinner is on the table!

toppings

I prefer shaved steak or pork in my pho, so, in theory the meat is thin enough to be put in the bowl raw and cook in the broth like in Vietnamese restaurants.  However, the broth has to be boiling for this to be achieved, and I have found that the amount of meat that I want in my pho bowl is usually too much for a few cups of broth to cook.  So I just spend 5-10 minutes at the stove, quickly cooking the shaved meat before adding it to the bowl.

Also, this totally makes great–if slightly messy–leftovers for lunch the next day.  The flavors in the broth continue to meld.  Usually, I travel with two containers: one of broth + meat/mushrooms and one container with zoodles + fresh toppings.  I microwave the noodles just enough to take the chill off, then pour over super hot broth right when I’m ready to eat, so my bowl of pho is nice and fresh!

The directions are long, but trust me, it is a fairly quick dish.  Especially when made in the crockpot.  After making it a few times, I hardly have to think about it.  I regularly make this on a weeknight, sometimes even after class, and it comes together very swiftly!  Make some pho this week!

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Zoodle Pho

Serves 4 | Prep time: 20 minutes | Cook Time: 15 min (+ more, unattended)

For the broth:

  • 6 cups broth (beef or chicken is best, as is bone broth–the silky gelatin is a bonus here)
  • 1 onion
  • 1/2 fresh fennel bulb, green stems removed*
  • fresh ginger, 1 thumb-sized piece
  • 4 garlic cloves, peeled and smashed
  • 1 cinnamon stick
  • 7 whole cloves
  • 3 Tbsp. fish sauce
  • optional: 1 Tbsp. honey
  • optional: up to 4 Tbsp of gelatin powder and/or 4 Tbsp. collagen powder

For serving:

  • 1 lb. shaved beef or pork
  • 2 medium-large zucchini (or 3-4 c. pre-spiralized zoodles)
  • Coconut aminos

+Any combination of below:

  • Lime wedges
  • Fresh cilantro
  • Green onions
  • Sautéed mushrooms
  • Fresh mint
  • Fresh basil or thai basil
  • Raw or pickled red onion
  • Bean sprouts**
  • Fresh jalapeño**

*When not on AIP, replace with 4 anise seed pods–skip the broil and treat like other whole spices

**Only when not following AIP, these pulses & nightshades are not AIP-compliant

Crockpot Method:

In the morning, set the broiler to High.  Slice the onion in half, remove the paper-y skin.  Slice the half of the fennel bulb in half again.  Slice the ginger in half (it can be peeled, if desired, but I usually just leave the skin on).  Place onion, fennel, and ginger face-up under the broiler for 5-15 minutes, until beginning to blacken.

Meanwhile, if using gelatin powder, add up to 4 tablespoons to a bowl of about 3/4 c. cool water.  Allow to bloom: the gelatin will soak up the water and no longer be a dry powder.

Add remaining broth ingredients (broth, cinnamon, garlic, whole cloves, fish sauce, honey–if using) to the crockpot.  I tie up the cloves in a bit of cheesecloth or drop them into a tea satchet to keep them together.  You can add them loose, but just need to remember to strain them from the broth in the evening.

Add the blackened onion, fennel, and ginger to the crockpot.  Add in the fully-bloomed (no longer dry) gelatin powder.  Stir, cover, and cook on low for 8-10 hours.

Stovetop method:

Stove top is entirely the same as above, but, instead of adding the ingredients to a crockpot, put them in a large stock pot.  Bring the mixture to a boil over medium heat, then turn the heat to low and simmer, covered, for 1-2 hours.

Serving:

When ready to serve, strain out the onion, fennel, garlic, ginger, cinnamon, and cloves.  Discard.  Just broth should remain.  If using collagen powder (up to 4 tablespoons), add to the broth at this point.  Sprinkle over the hot broth and stir until dissolved.  Turn the crockpot back to High, or turn the heat under the stockpot up to medium.

Spiralize the zucchini into noodle shapes.  I prefer to leave the skin on and I break the strands every 8 inches, or so, so that the noodle length is manageable.

Prep the toppings: slice the limes and green onions, slice and sauté the mushroom, chop the herbs.  Set aside.

In a large, shallow pan, cooked the shaved meat over medium.  I separate all the thin layers with my fingers before laying in the pan, to ensure the pieces cook evenly.  Once the meat is browned, add a splash or two of coconut aminos.  Cook for two minutes more.

To assemble a bowl:  place 3/4-1 c. of zoodles in a bowl and microwave for 30 seconds-1 minute.  The aim is just to get the zoodles warm, but not to actually cook the zucchini.  Lay the warm meat and any desired toppings over the warm zoodles.  Top with about 1 1/2 c. of hot broth.  Enjoy.

To store: place un-warmed zoodles in a large container, with or without additional fresh, cold toppings (herbs, onions, etc).  In a separate container, store meat and mushrooms in the broth.  Reheat and re-assemble when ready to eat.

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Recovered Produce and Stuffed Squash

Happy fall, everyone!  Although the official equinox was a few days ago, today is the day that I can actually feel it.  The air is just a little crispy and-finally!-not muggy.  We’ve had the AC off and the windows open all day yesterday and today I keep getting lovely little wafts of cool breeze as I sit on the couch.  For hours on end.  Sigh.  Somehow, I pulled something in my lower back that has kept me prone and couch-bound since Saturday.  I’m walking like a slow, old lady, and trying to sit upright is pretty terrible.  Sneezing is the absolute worst and causes some awful spasms.  Today, I think, is slightly better, so I’m hoping I can go back to working at my desk tomorrow and it will be a quick heal after that.  What is really disappointing, though, is that M and I were going away for this coming weekend and now kayaking is most likely off that schedule.  Boo.

In spite of my pain, I was excited to come home from work on Saturday to my weekly Hungry Harvest box!  I signed up for this produce delivery service a few weeks ago and I LOVE it!  I’d been looking for some kind of produce delivery/CSA, since I can’t make it to the Farmer’s Market when my Saturday work schedule begins each September.  A produce box was also appealing because it would force me to be creative with whatever I got each week.  I found Hungry Harvest, which was extremely affordable, and I loved that they were using recovered produce from farmers and grocery stores that would otherwise go to waste.  They also donate leftover produce to food banks every week.  They are awesome! (This is not a sponsored post, I really do just love HH this much.)

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This week’s Hungry Harvest box!

We’ve had great success with our weekly boxes and this week was no exception.  We are getting into the groove of meal planning around the box, too.  This week we received: 3 (giant) sweet potatoes, a carton of kumquats, 3/4 lb of collard greens, 3 empire apples, 2 beets, an adorably tiny eggplant, 1/2 a bunch of cilantro, a clamshell of cabernet tomatoes, and a large spaghetti squash.  All of that…for $15!  Did I mention that this is the SMALLEST option?  They have several larger sizes of boxes, even all-fruit, all-veggie, or all-organic boxes!  I cannot get over how great they are!  All of our veggies usually go towards dinners for the week.  Since M isn’t a big fruit-eater, I take care of most of the fruit between my breakfasts and snacks.  M was on a roll this week and picked most of the meals for us.  Here is what we will make, using everything from the box (and a few veggies left in the fridge from last week):

Dinner Plan for Sept 25-Oct 1

Sunday: Sausage & Veggie-Stuffed Spaghetti Squash

Monday: BBQ pulled chicken, collard greens, cilantro cole slaw

Tuesday: Beet & Apple salad, sweet potato hash browns, eggs

Wednesday: Beef Koftas with Baba Ghanoush, Tomato-Cucumber salad

Thursday: Leftover Night (I’ll be in class)

Friday: Out with Friends

Saturday: More leftovers to clear out the fridge before we leave

Lunches are typically leftovers from dinner, and we can fill in with stuffed sweet potatoes.  Breakfasts for me rotate between smoothies, eggs, and oatmeal.  M usually has breakfast tacos.

We kicked of this week with stuffed squash, which M made from my directions while I was sitting in the other room. (No prolonged standing yet…)  Stuffed squash is super simple, and one of my favorite things to eat, since it is so customizable.  I have a very eclectically autumnal recipe for Stuffed Acorn Squash that is delicious!  I love Italian flavors with Spaghetti Squash, so we paired hot Italian sausage with veggies and tomato sauce.  We cut out cooking any grain, which saves a little prep work and makes this Primal (if you top it with cheese, like M) or Paleo (if you leave off the cheese, like me).  This was a large spaghetti squash, but not unusually large, and this meal easily made 4 huge servings.  If you scooped out the squash and served the meat sauce over top, it would very easily stretch to 5 dinner-sized servings.


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Paleo/Primal Stuffed Spaghetti Squash

  • 1 spaghetti squash
  • 1 lb Italian sausage (hot or mild)
  • 4 oz mushrooms
  • 1 medium bell pepper
  • 3 cloves garlic
  • 1 small onion
  • 4 oz cherry tomatoes
  • 6 oz tomato sauce
  • 2 Tbsp tomato paste
  • 2 tsp Italian seasoning (or, about 1/2 tsp each: basil, oregano, rosemary, garlic powder)
  • Optional: shredded mozzarella cheese

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F.  Slice the squash in half, lengthwise.  It will be very firm, but I’ve found if I can stab in the tip of the knife, I can usually get enough leverage to split open one end, then the other.  Scoop out the seeds from each half, leaving a hollow in the middle.  Place the squash cut side down in a microwave-safe baking dish and fill with an inch of water.  Microwave on high power for 8-12 minutes, or until a fork goes easily into the flesh.

While the squash is cooking, prepare the other veggies.  The chop is entirely up to you: every vegetable can be diced for a really chunky mix, or every vegetable can be chopped finely in a food processor to make a thick, but smoother sauce.  We went for something in the middle.  M is not too fond of mushrooms, but I occasionally work them in to fill out dishes.  Because of this, we “hid” them by chopping them finely, along with the pepper and garlic, in the food processor.  We diced the onion like normal and halved our cherry tomatoes.

In a large saucepan, crumble it the sausage (remove from casing if in links) and stir to further separate the meat.  Cook until about half the meat is browned, then add the diced onions.  (If you chose to dice the peppers, now would be the time to add them)  Continue cooking until all of the meat is browned and the onions are soft and translucent.  Drain off any accumulated fat.  Add the vegetable mix from the food processor (or the diced mushrooms, if going that route).  Stir to combine and cook for 1-2 minutes.  Then add the tomato sauce, tomato paste, and Italian seasoning.  Stir to combine evenly.  If the mixture is too thick, add a little water to loosen things up.  Allow to simmer for 5 minutes.  Finally, toss in the chopped tomatoes and turn off the heat.  Set the squash cut side up in a dry, oven-proof pan.  Spoon the sausage and veggie mixture into each squash, topped with cheese, if using, and bake for 10-15 minutes until the cheese is melty and the tops of the sausage mixture are beginning to get crispy.  Split each half of squash in half again, width-wise.  Enjoy!


Rosemary & Honey Mustard Roasted Almonds

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Greetings from Blizzardville!  After five days at home, I finally went back to work today, only to have the university close early.  So I still did not make it to class.  I’ve only been to one out of four scheduled class sessions in the semester.  County schools are closed for the rest of the week and we have 6-foot-tall piles of snow at the corners of every intersection.  Thankfully, all the days off and missed classes have allowed me to get a week ahead of my homework for this semester!  I’m sure this will help with my stress levels this spring, especially when we reach the end of April and we have four (four!) tech weeks and performance weekends in a row.  Eek!

My gluten intolerance has made me more aware to food allergies than, perhaps, some people without any problems with food.  Working with children, and thus adding health information to countless rosters, I am even more aware of allergies.  Just like more and more schools, nut products are pretty much a no-go during the hours that I am around children or when we have students in our facility.  For years, I have avoided even bringing nuts to work.  Those were sad days since almonds and peanut butter are two of my favorite foods.  Also, with my gluten intolerance eliminating a lot of choices, nut products are a wonderful, nutrient-dense snack.  Recently, I have been carefully bringing nuts back into my meals at my workplace.  As long as I am sure that I can eat my snack away from the students, and I can thoroughly wash my hands afterwards, I have become confident that I can keep my students safe and still enjoy my peanut butter!

In the past few months, I’ve been working to keep our weekly groceries under $50.00 (except for an occasional stock up trip to Costco).  And so we found ourselves with a huge bag of almonds (bulk is so much more economical!)  I want to make more of our snacks, mostly to avoid the added costs that just can’t be squeezed into the weekly budget.  I love stovetop sugared almonds, so I wanted to try a savory option.  I was hoping to make these Honey Mustard Almonds completely on the stovetop, but the honey takes to long to crystallize.  I finished them in the oven without too much added time and these were the result.  The almonds remain a little sticky: they clump together, but are easily broken apart and don’t necessarily leave your fingers sticky.  I haven’t tried the technique, but I bet you could toss the cooled almonds in a teaspoon or two of cornstarch to cut down on the stickiness even further.

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Rosemary & Honey Mustard Roasted Almonds

Serves: 15 | Prep time: 2 minutes | Cook time: 35 minutes

  • 1/4 c. honey
  • 2 Tbsp. water
  • 1 Tbsp. dijon mustard
  • 2 tsp. ground dried mustard powder
  • 1/2 tsp. ground paprika
  • 3 c. raw almonds
  • 1 Tbsp. fresh* rosemary leaves, finely chopped
  • salt and pepper

*Fresh rosemary really is pretty necessary here, as it is added at the end of roasting.  Dried rosemary would be prickly in this recipe, unless it is ground done very small.

Preheat oven to 375 degrees F.  Line a sheet pan with parchment paper and lightly coat the parchment paper with oil.

In a large saucepan, over medium heat, stir together the honey, water, dijon mustard, ground mustard, and paprika.  After a few minutes, when the mixture just begins to bubble, add in the almonds and stir until all of the nuts are coated in the honey mixture.  Cook the mixture, stirring frequently, for about 6-8 minutes.  The mixture will thicken up.  Spread the coated nuts out over the sheet pan so the nuts are in a single layer.  Sprinkle the almonds generously with salt and pepper.  Roast for 15-20 minutes, stirring every 5 minutes, until the almonds are browned.  When the almonds start to look golden (around 10-15 minutes) and you stir them before the last round of baking, sprinkle over the chopped rosemary before popping the pan back into the oven.  Once cooked, allow the almonds to cool completely in the pan.  They will be a little sticky, even when cool, but the almonds are easy to break up.  Store in an airtight container for up to two weeks, breaking apart the almonds as needed.


Pumpkin-Coconut Custard

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Hello, hello!  Long time, no see.  I know, that’s all my fault of course. I have been distracted by a couple of projects this month, not the least of which is preparing for yet another showcase weekend swiftly approaching in mid-December.   I am 99% certain that all of the set is sketched out.  Since we are using foam board to create replaceable-facing style of set, it is possible that I missed one of the 48 piece of foam board that I am using to create the set.  I will find out soon enough–I’ve started piecing it all together and hope to get to painting next week.  I’m also on sound duty, though two of the shows are a little too intensive for me to go at creating them alone.  I’ll have to take advantage of M’s expertise there.  I’m thinking every small-company, multiple-hat-wearing theater administrator should have an audio engineer for a boyfriend.  They are exceedingly useful!

This week has been a little bit of an extra battle.  Every showcase for, at least, the last year-and-a-half of my two-ish years of stage managing our showcases, inevitably, I break on in hives on my face.  Typically, I get them in the last week or two and I am left with an itchy face all weekend.  This season, they’ve come early, at four weeks out from performance.  Worse, the temperature dropped at the same time, hovering in the thirties.  I’ve worn no make-up all week.  I picked up some hydrocortisone cream, but that actually made it worse.  I woke up red and stinging.  So, I’ve been reduced to dabbing tea tree oil and aloe vera, as that seems to be all that my skin can withstand while it is so cold and dry outside.  I’d nearly gotten rid of the hive, just to have them flair up again.  I am hoping some rest during the holiday break will be enough stress-relief to clear them all up.

Punc is also really disliking the cold, so at least I have company in my misery.  As a notorious seat-stealer, but anti-cuddler, Punc has thrown all of her rules out the window for the winter.  She sneaks up onto our bed in the early morning and wriggles up into the warm spot in between the two of us.  Whenever either of us sits down, she is quick to climb up beside us, making enough contact to start stealing body heat.  I’ve been thinking about getting her another coat, since she is looking pitiful so much more often these days.  The only one we have right now is a big, bulky coat that makes her look like a cosmonaut.  It works wonderfully for walks, but is a little inhibiting to wear around the house.  All in all, I don’t think I will have a puppy who is fully happy again until Spring.

M and I have finally figured out Thanksgiving.  We knew we would be sticking close to home, due to his work schedule, but we will be having dinner with his mum and whomever else we can get to join us.  I’ll be bringing my Knock-off Pepperidge Farms Gluten-Free Cornbread Stuffing.  I will be following that recipe, plus adding 3/4 c. each of whole cranberries and roughly-chopped, peeled chestnuts.  I tried this combo last Thanksgiving and it was fantastic!  Tart cranberries and soft, cozy chestnuts contrast perfectly against the herby cornbread backdrop.  I’ll also be using my Favorite Gluten-Free Pie Crust to make an apple pie and a pumpkin pie (unless I decide to make pumpkin cheesecake, or even this custard!).  M requested I make Popovers, which I think are the perfect roll for Thanksgiving: light and airy.  Who wants to fill up on rolls with the decadence of an entire Thanskgiving feast on the table?  Popovers are a nice compliment, without feeling so heavy.  It’ll be nice to have a low-key Thanksgiving Day.  I don’t even know if I will be going out for Black Friday shopping.  I may find something that I just have to purchase, but at the moment, I can’t think of anything.  This is also my very first paid holiday, which is pretty exciting!  I even managed to pay off one of my student loans in this first month on full-time salary!  Hurray!  I’m still working on creating my first true budget, now that I can plan with a steady income, but I’m getting there.  Baby steps, right?

Anyways, amidst all these projects, I decided to try eating semi-paleo (no grains, no dairy, no legumes) for a week.  This is a pretty huge challenge, though I tried not to think about it.  I pretty much subsist on yogurt and cheese.  So, as you might expect…I lasted 3 days.  I know that it wasn’t long enough to truly reset, but I didn’t notice any difference either way.  Eating a big bowl of cheesy pasta when I finally broke had no adverse effects.  Sure, it wasn’t a true test, but I was mostly seeing if I could actually manage to eat grain-free and dairy-free.  Obviously not.  I also found myself consuming a lot more sweeteners, which probably is not acceptable on paleo.  I am also sure that the only way that I survived was making this Coconut-Pumpkin Custard on day #1.  It soon became dessert and breakfast, and is a dish I will certainly make again.

This dish is pretty plain to look at, but the smooth coconut paired with the sweet flavor of lightly-spiced pumpkin is a match made in heaven!

Pumpkin-Coconut Custard

  • 2 c. pureed pumpkin*
  • 1 14 oz can full-fat coconut milk
  • 2 eggs
  • 4 egg yolks
  • 1 Tbsp. maple syrup
  • 1/2 c. sugar
  • 1/2 tsp. cinnamon
  • 1/4 tsp. nutmeg
  • 1/4 tsp. ginger
  • 1/4 tsp. salt
  • 1 tsp. vanilla extract

*Canned is fine, but I used scratch-made pumpkin puree (1 sugar/pie pumpkin split in half and roasted at 425 degrees F for 40 minutes. Scoop out the seeds and discard.  Cool pumpkin, then scoop the flesh out of the pumpkin skin and puree until smooth in a food processor) because I had a sugar pumpkin on hand.

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Lightly grease a 9 x 13 inch (for a thinner custard) or a 9 x 9 inch (for a thicker custard) casserole dish.

In a large bowl, whisk together eggs, egg yolks, maple syrup, and sugar.  Stir in coconut milk until thoroughly combine.  Then add pumpkin puree, all spices, and vanilla extract.  Mix well.  Pour in greased dish and bake for 35-45 minutes, until the top is lightly browned and the custard jiggles slightly, but is not liquid at the center of the dish.

Serve warm or cold, by itself or with whipped coconut cream, or with ice cream.

Store, covered, in the refrigerator for up to 4 days.


(Grain-less) Gluten-free Zucchini Lasagna

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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.