Thursday, August 11, 2011

Summer squash (no-noodle) lasagna

As I've been mentioning, we've been getting a ton of zucchini and summer squash in our CSA boxes. I've been looking for creative ways to use it, and read in several places about people who used planks of zucchini in place of noodles in their lasagna. I was intrigued. My first try was okay, but not great: way too much cheese, not enough meat, although it was clear that zucchini really did make an acceptable substitute for noodles in lasagna.

Tonight, I offered to make dinner for my dad's birthday at the ballpark; knowing pasta isn't good for him, I decided to give the no-noodle lasagna another try...and this time, it was perfect! My stepmom was the only one who said she could tell it was missing noodles, and my dad, who is my most honest critic, said it was really good! Even the kiddos, who didn't like the first version I made, ate theirs.

There are a lot of steps, but that's true of regular lasagna, too. This version is healthier, tasty, and uses up that plethora of zucchini and summer squash!

Summer squash (no-noodle) lasagna
makes six servings

for the sauce
1 tbsp olive oil
1 onion, chopped
1/2 tsp salt
2 tsp minced garlic
12 oz ground meat (I used turkey)
28 oz can of crushed tomatoes
1/4 tsp dried oregano
1/8 tsp crushed red pepper flakes

for the lasagna
1 large or 2 smaller zucchini and/or summer squash, sliced into 1/4" planks (enough for 6 planks)*
1 red pepper, cut into four sides*
3/4 c ricotta (I used part-skim)
1/8 c + 1 tbsp Parmesan cheese, grated
1/4 tsp salt
1/4 tsp pepper
2 tbsp chopped fresh basil
1 cup mozzarella

*If you prefer, leave out the red pepper and use an extra 3 planks of zucchini or summer squash in its place.

1.  Preheat oven to 425º.
2. Heat the olive oil in a large skillet over medium heat.
3. Add the onion and salt and cook for about 4 minutes, until the onion is starting to get tender.
4. Add the garlic and saute for 30 seconds, until fragrant.
5. Add the ground turkey and cook for about 5 minutes or until no longer pink.
6. Add the crushed tomatoes, red pepper flakes, and oregano. Turn down heat and simmer for 15 - 20 minutes, until thickened, stirring occasionally.
5. While sauce is cooking, coat a large jelly roll pan with cooking spray or brush with olive oil. Put the zucchini, summer squash, and red pepper planks in a layer on the pan. Coat with cooking spray. Cook for 15 minutes, flip, and cook an additional 10 minutes or until vegetables are tender but not falling apart.
6. Place the red pepper (if using) in a zip-top plastic bag for about 10 minutes, and then remove the skins. (When I skipped this step, the red pepper flavor was much more dominant and the peppers were extremely difficult to cut through.)
7. While the sauce is simmering and the veggies are roasting, make the cheese blend: in a small bowl, combine ricotta, 1/8 cup grated Parmesan, 1/4 teaspoon salt, 1/4 teaspoon pepper, and chopped basil.

Once all of the pieces are ready (see photos below):
8. Spread 1/4 cup sauce evenly on the bottom of an 8x8 baking dish.
9. Place 3 squash planks on top of the sauce.
10. Spread 2 tablespoons of the ricotta cheese mixture on each of the squash planks.
11. Sprinkle 1/3 cup of mozzarella on top.
12. Pour 1 cup sauce on top and spread evenly.
13. Lay red pepper pieces on top (or squash, if omitting red pepper), being sure to keep them even with the squash slices below. (The first time I made this, I jigsawed the veggies rather than keeping them in even columns, and it was impossible to cut! When I was careful to maintain columns, it sliced like a dream.)
14. Repeat ricotta layer (you may not use all of the cheese), mozzarella layer, and sauce layer.
15. Lay final 3 pieces of squash on top, again maintaining the columns. Pour the final 1 cup of sauce over the top and spread evenly. Sprinkle on the rest of the mozzarella. Dust with 1 tablespoon Parmesan.
16. Cover lasagna with foil coated with cooking spray.
17. At this point, you can either bake the lasagna or stick it in the fridge overnight. When ready to bake, bake in a 350º oven for 30 minutes, covered. Then remove the foil and bake for 15 minutes uncovered.
18. Let sit for 10 - 15 minutes before slicing. (Because of all of the zucchs/squash, it will be more liquidy than normal lasagna.)


  1. The series of pictures at the bottom of your post are incredibly useful for those of us thinking about recreating this in the future. I'm a huge lasagna fan, but I always wish it could be healthier. This might be just the trick. And how great that the kids liked it too!

  2. I will definitely make this for your dad and me. Wonder where to get some zucchini....

  3. That's a neat idea. I wonder if my girls would eat it? Glad to hear that it was a big hit with your dad.

  4. I've wanted to try this kind of lasagna for awhile! Hopefully I'll get around to it. Yum!!