Like many people, I try to cook with as little unhealthy carbs as possible. Sometimes, for months, I won’t eat carbs at all. When you eat like this, you have to come up with really creative ways of eating things you love and eliminating the carbs. I had always been a fan of zucchini noodles for pastas, so when I had an intense craving for lasagna, I had a great idea.
If you think about it for a second, you realize that the flavors that you crave most about food have little to do with the carbs involved (at least for me). For example, when I crave a sandwich, I am not craving the bread, I am craving the meat, cheese, and veggies in the middle. Additionally, when I want pizza, I want cheese and peperoni. The carbs usually just serve as a medium to get all that good stuff into your mouth! It is the same with lasagna. I wanted the Italian sausage, ricotta cheese, and the wonderful tomato sauce. The noodles really had nothing to do with it.
First you want to create your noodles out of vegetables. Zucchini and yellow squash work great, but I think that eggplant would also be really tasty. Slice the veggies into sections that are about 1/4 – 1/2 inches thick that you can use for layering and try to keep the length as long as possible.
After you have sliced your “noodles”, go ahead and put the Italian sausage on heat. If I can make one request here–don’t use ground beef or turkey. Really, the best part about lasagna is the spicy sausage! I mean, you can if you want, but you are really lacking some serious flavor if you use plain ground meat.
While your sausage is cooking, you will want to start preparing your cheese mixture. I am pretty particular about this part because I like a lot of cheeses mixed together. Mozzarella, of course, is the most important part, so make sure that you use as much of that as possible. Usually, a 12 oz package will do. I also combine the mozzarella with half a container of cottage cheese, a half container of ricotta cheese, one egg and some mild seasoning. Dried basil and oregano are important flavors for the cheese mixture, and I also combine some sea salt, garlic cloves, and a bit of pepper. You don’t want to over-season the cheese mixture because (hopefully) your sauce will also have a lot of flavor, and you don’t want to overdue it.
Usually, I make my own red sauce, but this night, I didn’t feel like it–so I used a great alternative; Newman’s Own Natural Roasted Garlic Tomato Sauce. It tasted almost as good as my homemade. Really though, you can use any spaghetti sauce you would like.
After all of your ingredients are prepared and your Italian sausage is browned, the fun part starts–the layering! Start with your veggie noodles, then add some sausage, some red sauce, and a good amount of cheese. Don’t worry about things being even or pretty at this point. As the dish cooks, it all comes together. Keep layering until you have filled the pan with deliciousness and then pop it in the oven on 375 for about 20 – 30 minutes or so; or until the cheese on top gets to a golden brown. Usually, you can tell by the amazing smell when the time is about up.
Into the oven!
You will want to let this dish cool for a considerable amount of time before serving; at least 20 minutes or so. When you use veggies for the noodles, you get some excess water that is drawn out of the vegetables during the cooking process. This water tends to make things just a little bit messier–but not any less tasty. The point is that you aren’t going to be serving up a perfect layered serving of lasagna, but more of a beautiful helping of veggies swimming in red sauce, sausage, and cheese.
This is one of my favorite things to eat–and it really does taste like authentic lasagna! You get all of the best flavors of regular lasagna, and none of the fat and sugar from those terrible white noodles! If anyone tries this with eggplant, I would love to hear about it.
This dish does take some time to cook. So, when you have a free evening and want to mellow out with a bottle of wine and some time in the kitchen, try this one out! And don’t forget–try to use all natural and organic products as much as possible!