Over the years, I’ve really gotten the hang of the whole lasagna thing. I still remember the first time I ever attempted to make it. I didn’t read a recipe and didn’t listen to any tips my mother gave me but insisted I knew what I was doing. Then I took it out of then oven……..yeah you know the rest. I ended up tossing everything together and draining some of the sauce and serving it like a casserole. After many stubborn attempts, I got a pretty good hang of it. But like any dish you make over and over, I wanted to reinvent it. I first tried switching the ground beef to ground chicken and it really made a difference but I wanted to switch more. I swapped my traditional ricotta mix to a ricotta and cottage cheese mix and it made the dish more moist but I wasn’t thrilled with the flavor.
On a late night Pinterest binge, I saw a zucchini lasagna and immediately plotted my trip to the grocery store to make it happen. With all of the meal prepping I’ve been doing, the healthier alternative caught my eye for sure. The thought of eating one of my favorite dishes without the guilt of heavy pasta just warmed my soul. Zucchini honestly doesn’t taste like anything so don’t let anyone tell you it’s gross! Anyone! Sad news my friends, I left out the ricotta. I know, I know. I am breaking just about every lasagna rule ever by not putting ricotta but it just adds extra calories and the flavor will be made up for with fresh mozzarella & Basil, I promise!
So here is my quick version. It’s about the same time as a traditional lasagna minus the time of cooking the pasta. You don’t cook the zucchini but you do have to salt it after you slice it with your mandoline. The salt extracts the extra moisture from the zucchini so you don’t end up with zucchini lasagna soup. It takes about 15 minutes to get the moisture out before you can pat it dry but it really makes a world of difference. If you don’t have a mandoline, you can use a peeler. It surprisingly works just as good. The goal is to get the zucchini thinly sliced as evenly as possible to achieve an even cooking.
- 4 large zucchini thinly sliced (read above for preparation)
- 2 tbsp olive oil
- 3 garlic cloves minced
- 1 medium yellow onion diced
- 1/2 cup fresh finely chopped basil
- 1 1/2 pounds of ground chicken
- 1 14oz can of crush tomatoes
- 1 14oz can of tomato sauce
- 2 tbsp dried oregano
- 2 cups of shredded mozzarella
- 1 cup grated parmesan
- Salt and pepper to taste
- Preheat oven to 375 degrees.
- Before you start cooking the ground chicken, slice your zucchini and salt them to remove the extra moisture. After 15 mins, pat dry with towel.
- In a large pan over medium high heat, add your olive oil and sautéed your onions. Once they are translucent, add your ground chickensnd cook until fully cooked. Season with salt and pepper (about 1 tsp of each)
- Once the chicken is fully cooked, reduce heat to medium low and add your tomato sauce and crushed tomatoes. Let simmer for about 10 minutes until warmed through and add fresh basil and oregano. Turn heat off and begin to assemble.
- Layer the bottom of your 9×13 baking dish with one spoon full of sauce to avoid sticking. Evenly spread out then layer 4-5 pieces of your zucchini. Add a layer of meat sauce then top with mozzarella cheese. Repeat until all ingredients have been used. Top with Parmesan cheese and 1 tbsp of dried oregano.
- Cover and bake for 30 minutes. Remove foil and bake an additional 20 minutes. You must let cool before serving to avoid falling apart.