Who doesn’t love lasagna?
Call it the Italian in me, but lasagna will always have a place in my life and on my table. As much as I am happy to indulge in the real thing from time to time, I have come to love this healthy, vegetable packed rendition even more. (Sorry, Pop.)
I love lightening up classic comfort dishes, as evidenced by my Butternut Mac & Cheese and Greek Meatloaf. I’ve tried a few different versions of zucchini lasagna in my day, and I often find them watery, messy, and lacking flavor. I always liked the idea of it, but knew there was a better way.
There are a few tricks here that make this recipe seriously delicious. The first is that you quickly dehydrate the zucchini in the oven for a few minutes to get the excess moisture out before you layer. This allows the zucchini to sop up the delicious sauce rather than let off a bunch of water and dilute it. The second is the tomato paste that is used in the sauce. If you don’t have any, you can add some balsamic vinegar in its place, it’ll create the depth of flavor you are looking for. The third truck is mixing an egg in with a bit of cheese and dotting it throughout the lasagna. It gives the cheesy sauce a bit of structure as it bakes up. You can also make this vegetarian by leaving the beef out, or can swap in ground turkey or even lamb if that’s what you have.
Be sure to let this lasagna rest for the required time before cutting, especially if serving for company, it’ll help it hold together for you. But if you’re impatient and end up with a bowl full of fat zucchini noodles and a cheesy meat sauce you won’t be all that upset either. I speak from experience.
Zucchini Skillet Lasagna
2 lbs zucchini, sliced thinly lengthwise (about ¼ inch)
1 lb. ground beef, turkey, or chicken
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 small onion, diced small
1 large egg
2-3 cups spinach, fresh or defrosted from frozen
16 oz. mozzarella cheese, grated
1 cup parmesan cheese, grated
2 Tablespoons olive oil
2 teaspoons dried oregano
1 teaspoon dried basil
1 Tablespoon tomato paste
1 28 oz. can whole tomatoes, crushed by hand (preferably San Marzano)
¼ cup fresh parsley, chopped
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Place racks on two baking sheets and lay zucchini slices on the racks. Sprinkle with salt and let sit for about 15 minutes to pull water out of the zucchini. Using paper towels, blot dry.
Place zucchini in the oven and cook for 15-25 minutes to dry out. Set aside.
In a small bowl, mix together half of the mozzarella, ½ of the parmesan, and the egg and set aside.
In a large oven-proof skillet, warm 1 Tablespoon of olive oil over medium heat.
Saute the onion and garlic for 2-3 minutes. Add tomato paste and cook for 30 seconds.
Add the ground meat and brown, cooking and breaking up, for 5 minutes. Add 1 teaspoon salt, the dried oregano and basil, then spinach, then the tomatoes and cook for 5-7 minutes.
Remove most of the sauce from the pan, setting aside, leaving a thin layer of sauce in the pan.
Starting with the zucchini, layer the zucchini, then sauce, then the cheese mixture, then extra mozzarella and parmesan. You should have three layers, ending with zucchini, then sauce, then mozzarella and parmesan.
Cook the skillet lasagna for 30 minutes until bubbling and cooked through.
Switch the oven to broiler on Hi and broil for 3-5 minutes until cheese is deeply golden.
Remove and allow to rest for 20 minutes before slicing.
Serve topped with fresh parsley if desired.