A few weeks ago Chris and I decided that we were going to try to cut our meat consumption down a bit and at the same time decrease our carbs again and increase grains and vegetables. So, on a quest to find some new recipes that fit this new goal, I put a request out on a local message board that I frequent for some veggie heavy recipes. This was one suggestion and luckily I had just picked up some large zucchinis from the local farmers market and I had all the required ingredients on hand too, so I gave it a shot. (including the cottage cheese in place of the Italian standard ricotta - I know..... I later received a phone call threatening excommunication from the family because of this... more on this later.) I also had decided since we were going for a non-meat meal, that I would omit the ground beef.
After looking at a few similar recipes using zucchini in a lasagna-like casserole, I decided to start prepping my meal but along the way a FEW wires were crossed. The outcome was fantastic though and that's why I'm sharing my modifications. AND, It's your lucky day because I'll be doing it "P-Dub" style!
Cara's Modified Zucchini Lasagna
First and foremost, the cast of characters:
Garlic from our garden(three cloves chopped), one medium yellow onion(chopped), 2-3 ripe tomatoes (rough chop), olive oil, 2 - 3 large zucchini (sliced into 1/4 disks, 2 - 6oz cans of tomato paste, garlic powder (a few dashes), dried Thyme (1/2 teaspoon), dried oregano (1 teaspoon), dried basil(1 teaspoon) *** (fresh would be a nice complement to the dish too). OOH and what's that in the back there, yes, those are oven ready lasagna noodles (you'll need 6)! Something the original recipe lacked. See, this is where my wires got crossed and I somehow thought that there were supposed to be noodles in this recipe, I mean it was lasagna right? And, what's lasagna without noodles..... what I failed to notice was that the ZUCCHINI was to be sliced into large, wide, noodle-like planks and should have been used in place of noodles... OOPS!)
*** Another modification, I doubled the herb measurements from what the original recipe called for because in a few of the comments under the recipe others stated that it was a bit light on the seasonings... doubling seemed reasonable. I have no complaints about the amounts I used.
I chopped my zucchini and sauteed that with a little bit of olive oil and salt and pepper to taste. Saute until mostly cooked through.
Once the zucchini has cooked down a bit, toss in the onions, garlic and herbs/seasonings.
Allow the onions to become a little translucent and then toss in the tomatoes and tomato paste, bring to a boil and let simmer uncovered for 10 minutes. It will look like this when it's done. YUM!
While the above is simmering, you'll need to pull these friends out of the fridge:
You'll need 1 1/2 cups Cottage Cheese, 2 cups shredded mozzarella and 2 eggs which are conveniently missing from the photo... (see?! I told you it was true P-Dub style...)
In a small bowl beat eggs, add cottage cheese and 1/2 the mozzarella.
NOTE: About the Cottage Cheese... The original recipe called for this ingredient in place of ricotta. I had recently read a few other recipes that discussed substituting cottage cheese for ricotta too so I was curious... I also happened to have that on hand and didn't have ricotta... so in an effort to NOT have to run to the store for ONE item, I gave it a shot. I'll admit, it felt wrong during prep, it sorta looked the part but it just wasn't quite right looking either... I pushed through, assembled the lasagna, baked it, ate it and LIKED it this way too. *gasp* My first taste, I missed the creamy texture of ricotta. My second taste, I looked beyond it and savored the yummy that was in my mouth and put the lack of ricotta out of mind... Will I do it again? Mmm, Maybe... if i don't have ricotta on hand. However, if I've planned correctly, I hope to try this with ricotta the next time. I would think it would only add to the flavor. My mom can now rest easy knowing that I'm not a cottage cheese convert I'm sure....
Ok, moving onto assembly.
Spray a 9x11 baking dish with cooking spray, spread a little less than 1/2 of the zucchini mixture into the bottom. Next, layer 1/2 of the egg/cheese mixture, then three lasagna noodles. Spoon most but not all of the zucchini mixture (you'll want to leave a little bit for the top), then the rest of the egg/cheese mixture, three more noodles, the rest of the zucchini mixture and top with mozzarella. Cover, bake for 30 minutes at 375 degrees, uncover and bake for another 10 minutes until cheese is lightly golden. Let stand for a few minutes before serving.
Finally, enjoy with your family!