I was on the phone the other day with Laura Till, future doctor, food safety advisor, and college roommate extraordinaire. She was hosting a dinner for her USC coop and was calling me for advice on vegetarian dishes to serve twenty people. I helped her run through her ideas for the evening and gave her some ideas to complement her main entre idea: zucchini lasagna made with cottage cheese.
Now, it may astonish you that even after a 2 year stint in Italy, I had never made lasagna. I always imagined lasagna to be a poor Americans dream of Italian food, even though I had eaten lasagna on a fair number of holidays in Catania, Sicily.
When Laura told me of her plans to make lasagna with zucchini replacing the noodles and cottage cheese instead of ricotta, I was immediately intrigued. I set about researching different ideas on Pinterest and finally began creating my own recipe.
I made a batch to last me the work week, satisfying my fuel needs and my micronutrient needs by using 2 layers of whole wheat pasta sheets and 3 layers of thin zucchini “noodles”. For your best work week lunch, see below:
- 1 cup frozen spinach thawed and drained (or 3 cups fresh spinach lightly sautéed)
- 2 cups cottage cheese (I use low fat)
- Pinch salt
- 1 tbs olive oil
- Approximately 6 long whole wheat lasagna noodles (you can also use egg noodles)
- 2 cups tomato sauce (homemade or store bought- I’m a fan of Rao’s Arrabbiata)
- 3 medium zucchini
- Handful shredded Parmesan to sprinkle over the top
Preheat oven to 375.
Heat 2 quarts water in a large saucepan on high heat.
Place cottage cheese and salt in food processor. Blend until cottage cheese is smooth and creamy. Add spinach and blend until spinach is mixed in with cottage cheese mixture.
Once water is boiling, add olive oil to water. This will keep the noodles from sticking together. Cook noodles for one minute less than package says. You want your noodles to be al dente as they will be baked later on.
Wash and prepare your zucchini noodles. Using a peeler, peel long thin strips of zucchini that resemble long thin noodles.
Assemble your lasagna. Line your pan with a thin layer of sauce. Add a single layer of noodles. Add a layer of the spinach cottage cheese. Top layer with a layer of zucchini “noodles”. Using a spoon or brush, spread a layer of sauce over zucchini layer. Continue assembling in this order until you reach the top of the pan or run out of ingredients. Top final layer of zucchini with sauce and thin layer of Parmesan cheese.
Bake in oven for approximately 45 minutes or until zucchini is cooked. Remove from oven and pack for lunch.