zucchini pasta

I am always looking for skinny dinner ideas. Being in New York City, where there are hundreds of dinner options on every block and the, dreaded, endless delivery options, eating healthy can be somewhat of a challenge.

Conscious eating just another task on the list of shit to do:
- work 
- keep your fashion game on point
- work out
- have a social life
- catch yourself a man with a job...

I know, the list is never ending!

Gluten free zucchini lasagna is one of those dishes that has become a regular recipe at home. What's not to love about a healthy alternative to traditional lasagna?

My creativity in the kitchen works in a funny way. More often than not, I don't plan on what I am going to make, it's not my style. I kind of go with the flow and play a little game with myself. I survey all the options, pick a few key ingredients and go from there. 

I was actually inspired by the ricotta cheese for this recipe. I LOVE ricotta!!!! I make sure to get the whole milk ricotta, although it does have a higher fat content, it is easier on your digestive system and does provide high amounts of protein.

Among being a key ingredient to a delicious lasagna dish, ricotta is one of my favorite ingredients to use for desserts.

Get your popsicle molds ready, later this week for a healthier alternative to frozen fudge bars. Trust me, you will not want to miss it! 

Okay, let's begin...

First, pre-heat the over to 350 degrees.

The Sauce:

I made my own pasta sauce for this dish but if you want to buy a jar of sauce, it's faster. If you do purchase your own, I highly recommend Raos. It is THE BEST. It is the only pre-made sauce I like to buy.

If you want to make your own sauce:

In a large pan, heat two tablespoons of the olive oil. Add 2 chopped garlic cloves, half of a finely chopped yellow onion, 1 table spoon of finely chopped fresh parsley and 1 teaspoon of finely chopped fresh oregano. Salt and pepper while the ingredients brown. When the onions have become soft and fragrant, add one can of crushed tomatoes. Stir together and salt and pepper to taste. Empty the sauce into a dish and set it aside.

zucchini pasta

In the same pan, cook a half a pound of ground meat until it's no longer pink. Empty the meat into a dish and set it aside. I use grass fed beef or bison but any ground meat works just fine.

It's important to use a mandoline or some sort of vegetable slicer to cut the zucchini because the pieces need to be very thin and evenly cut. The one I use, I purchased at the grocery store for $14. I'll provide some links below if you want one for your kitchen.

Slice 2 large zucchinis and set them aside. THIS IS IMPORTANT: Make sure to  pat dry the cut zucchini with a paper towel. There is a lot of water in this veggie and the dish will turn to soup if you skip this step.

zucchini pasta

The Layers:

1. Line the bottom of a casserol dish with a thin layer of the pasta sauce.
2. On top of the sauce, add one layer of zucchini slices, slightly overlapping one another, leaving no spaces between.
3.  Add a layer of meat, evenly spread.
4.  Place dollops of ricotta cheese on top of the meat.
5.  Add Another layer of zucchini slices, just like the bottom layer; tight and overlapping while gently pressing on the ricotta to level out the zucchini slices.
6. Add a layer of pasta sauce on top of the zucchini and then repeat layers 3-5; meat, ricotta, zucchini.
7. On the final layer of zucchini, cover the dish with parmesan cheese. 

zucchini pasta

Put the dish in the over for 20 minutes. I like the top to be kind of crunchy so I leave it in for longer but just make sure to keep an eye on it. Check the oven at 15 minutes and see how it looks. Remember, you already cooked the meat so don't worry about wether or not it is "cooked" through. 

Garnish with fresh basil and enjoy.

zucchini lasagna

I know the directions are long but I swear, once you make it the first time, it will be a no brainer the second time. 

The taste is incredible. I didn't even tell Sergio that there weren't "real" noodles, as he calls them, in the meal and he had no idea until I told him. 

Here's a tip, don't tell your boyfriend / husband you're cooking a healthy meal until he's enjoying it. It's a little trick I learned to push my agenda in the kitchen.