I grew up in a home with a Type 1 Diabetic, so there are some diet practices my family adapted that were outside of the norm for my generation. This means there was no soda, juice was only available on special occasions, candy only on very special occasions, and our starches were always limited. The starches weren’t cut out completely, I also grew up in an Alaska Bush Village and we needed shelf staple ingredients that didn’t break the bank. My mom made a lot of bread and we did eat pasta, but almost never both at the same time.
This was just normal to me growing up. My first time eating at a restaurant when I was served a slice of Garlic Bread with my plate of pasta was mind-blowing.
“I’m allowed both, what?!”
I adopted this practice after marriage and would always serve pasta dishes or rice dishes or potato dishes or bread. One starch, and one starch only. My husband is a big meat and vegetable eater, viewing many starches as a waste of plate space, so he enjoyed this for the most part. The only recurrent disappointment was pasta served without Garlic Bread. I get it, they pair so well together. The way the bread mops up the sauce and the flavors entwine, it is delicious. Yet, it was hard for me to break that standard…so I began to experiment with other ways to cook “pasta dishes.”
I much prefer the Garlic Bread to the pasta itself, actually, so I thought I’d try kicking the noodles to the curb instead. We have done some “zoodles”. I make a loaded minestrone type soup that utilizes shredded purple cabbage in place of pasta. There have been many such variations, all served with this delicious Sourdough Garlic Bread.
One of my current favorite is this tasty Zucchini Lasagna. I, honestly, prefer this to the noodle counterpart. In this recipe you get the savory meat sauce, bites of tender zucchini, and ricotta cheese that melts in your mouth. Oh, so good!
2 lbs Ground Beef or Italian Sausage. Sausage will definitely provide more flavor on its own but ground beef can be seasoned well. I usually makes this selection based on weekly sales.
2- 24 Oz Cans of Crushed Tomatoes
7 medium Garlic Cloves
2 Tablespoons Basil
1 1/2 Tablespoons Oregano
1 1/2 Tablespoons Thyme
2 teaspoons Salt
1 1/2 teaspoons Black Pepper
2 Large Zucchini
1/4 Sliced Red Onion
1- 8 Oz Container Ricotta Cheese
1- 6 oz Bag Shredded Mozzarella
Step 1- First things first. Prepare your ingredients for the sauce. Dice that garlic and remove thyme from stem. You want these to be ready when your meat is browning.
Step 2- Brown that meat. Cook and stir until browned all over, and then drain.
- You don’t want all that extra grease making your dish soggy and oily. What we want is the pure flavor of the meat itself. Personally, I prefer to buy a 90:10 meat to fat ratio when purchasing meat but will make do with an 80:20
- I am a firm believer in using what you have on hand and reducing waste, so I don’t want to get too picky about which meat to use. Just drain it well and not down your sink! I drained this inside of a large bowl so as not to disturb the drain.
Step 3- Return meat to pot, there should be a remnant of grease in it which will help in adding seasonings. Turn the pot to low heat and throw in all your seasonings. Minced garlic, basil, thyme, oregano, pepper, salt. Let that all absorb, stirring occasionally for about 2 minutes before adding the tomatoes.
- I used this time to blend my tomatoes. I had ordered them online for pick-up and they substituted my crushed tomatoes with whole tomatoes which I then blended and utilized. This worked alright, but I made a mistake. I should have drained them more and diced the tomatoes to have more texture and less liquid. This particular batch of Lasagna turned out wetter than any I have previously made and I am certain that is why.
Step 4- Add the tomatoes and let your sauce simmer. You can use the time while the flavors are combining to prep your other ingredients. Slice the Zucchini in thin slices (1/4 inch or so) and slice a Red onion in similar sized pieces.
Step 5- Begin assembling the Lasagna. Scoop of sauce, layer of Zucchini, Container of Ricotta Cheese, layer of Red Onion, scoop of sauce, layer of Zucchini, Scoop of sauce, layer of Mozzarella cheese.
When all this is done, you simply bake it like a regular Lasagna.
Bake at 425* for 40 minutes covered with Aluminim foil, remove foil and bake for an additional 10 minutes.
This is what I did, freeze first. You can do this if you are making one for now and saving one for later, trying to get ahead of an upcoming busy day, or have some ingredients that need to be used but you aren’t ready for yet. I was the last one. I had a refrigerator full of leftovers to be used but didn’t want the meat to sit past a day or two since we bought it. I prefer to use or freeze meats quickly after purchase to ensure less waste.
If baking from frozen. Preheat your oven to 375*and go ahead and stick the lasagna (still frozen and covered in foil) in as the oven comes to temperature. This will help it to thaw. Bake at 375* for 30 minutes covered, turn oven to 425* and continue cooking for an additional 40 minutes, making sure to remove the foil for the last 15 minutes of cook time.
I served this up with some Garlic Bread and Salad for a wonderful dinner.