No-noodle lasagna…a celebration of zucchini

It’s not quite Sneak Some Zucchini Onto Your Neighbor’s Porch Night, a holiday I’ve talked about before. But that’s coming. In the meantime, here’s an ingenious way to make use of summer’s bounty: no-noodle lasagna.

You know how to make lasagna, right? No need for me to go into it?

The layer of red sauce
followed by a layer of noodle
followed by a layer of ricotta, perhaps mixed with an egg and some chard or spinach
followed by a layer of mozzarella
followed by a layer of red sauce
followed by a layer of noodle
…and so on and so forth until your kitchen looks like it has been the setting of a massacre?

You know this. You’ve done it. I’m not gonna’ tell you to make lasagna. I will simply tell you what I have long-considered the biggest pain-in-the-patookis about lasagna.

To my mind, the biggest pain-in-the-patookis about lasagna is not the massacre-setting. It is those danged noodles. Unless you are gonna’ let the lasagna sit overnight (something I never quite plan for, because I am not a planner, and which always makes me nervous, anyway, since I tend to mix an egg with the ricotta), you must first boil the noodles, and then lay them out in such a way that doesn’t make them stick together, and now there’s an extra pot to clean, and dang it, those noodles stuck together anyway…

And now. Now I have found a solution to that problem. And this solution also happens to be a solution to the too-much-zucchini problem of summer. And? If you happen to be one of those South Beach types? You will also find this to be a solution to the carbs-are-gonna’-kill-us problem.

Forget those sticky, pot-messying noodles! Just layer slices of zucchini wherever you would have placed a noodle. Cut ‘em to somewhere between an eighth-inch to a quarter-inch thick (don’t worry; you won’t be exact, and you don’t need to). Follow any lasagna recipe whatsoever, replacing the word “noodle” with the word “zucchini.” And yes, I mean raw zucchini. No need for that extra pot! No need whatsoever!

It works:

Your six-year old, who claims not to like zucchini, digs it. Your husband likes it fine, and says he misses the noodles only when you are fool enough to ask the question, “do you miss the noodles?”

(note to self: do not ask such a question next time).

Your two-year old happily rejects it, as she happily rejects all food, and chooses instead to clomp around the house in your sandals:

When she is silent for too long, you discover that she has decided to try on every shoe in the house:

As you clean that up mess, your six-year old finishes her lasagna, and decides to start making herself a smoothie:

Which she does remarkably well, actually:

Even if it does make her look creepily like Batman’s Joker:

But back to the no-noodle lasagna. Like any lasagna, a big pan of it makes enough for dinner, plus a bunch that can be separated, frozen, and saved for a rainy day:

Oh, wait. It IS a rainy day:

No matter. You’ll save for the next rainy day.

The only problem with this recipe, is that the zucchini contains enough water that a bunch of liquid gets left behind in a pan:

If you were a planner, you would have planned ahead for this. You would have covered your zucchini slices in salt and water, then let stand for 2 hours to draw out the vegetable’s water, then rinsed well before using.

But we have already established that you are not a planner, you shall never be a planner, you do not for the life of you understand this word, plan, this word that others mention with such frequency, and such enthusiasm.

No, you did not plan ahead. So, instead, you decide the extra liquid is nothing that a big hunk of crusty bread can’t fix.

Plenty more zucchini recipes to follow. Because those zucchini keep coming, as fast as we can use ‘em.

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11 Responses to “No-noodle lasagna…a celebration of zucchini”

  1. 1 Crystal July 23, 2008 at 8:20 pm

    Perfect. Thanks. The noodles have always been my least favorite part anyway. And the squash is getting bigger and bigger…

    And I’m not a planner so the sauce shall be runny. Yay.

  2. 2 Fairly Odd Mother July 24, 2008 at 1:30 am

    Thank you for this idea! My CSA keeps giving us squash and I’m ready to cry uncle already!

  3. 3 Greg July 24, 2008 at 2:53 am

    Eggplant works well, too. (Think Moussaka)

    As for noodles in lasagna, forget boiling them. Just make sure that you’ve added a fair amount of liquid and you can build your lasagna with un-cooked dry noodles. They will cook beautifully in the oven. I use a cup or two of tomato juice around the edges of the pan just to make sure.

    But even better yet (but twice the work… sorry) we’ll be doing home-made lasagna noodles with Vermont grown and ground flour at the coop during next month’s eat local challenge. I’ll be experimenting in the next week or so to see if I need to blanch the fresh noodles before I build the casserole, but I am guessing not. I’ll keep you posted.

  4. 4 Emily S July 24, 2008 at 12:16 pm

    If you’re on the noodle train, but don’t like to boil them, use the No Boil noodles from Creamette or Prince. They work REALLY well – you don’t even have to have extra liquid – you follow the exact same pattern. Oh and if you love lasagna but not the fat – use no fat Ricotta it’s yummy (I know, I didn’t believe it either).

  5. 5 MamaBird/SurelyYouNest July 25, 2008 at 8:05 pm

    Fantastic idea, and I love the If You Give A Pig A Pancake cadence of this post…

  6. 6 Lauren August 29, 2008 at 3:59 pm

    Hello there,

    lovely blog. I just stumbled across it entirely by accident and am enjoying trolling. Your kids crack me up.

    Just a quick note re: overly-watery-zucchini-lasagna : I too make zucchini and eggplant lasagna (yay for home gardening!) and have found that the best way to ensure the “noodles” don’t sweat while baking is to brush them with a little olive oil and season with salt, pepper, and dried basil, and then broil in the oven briefly. The texture of the lasagna is greatly improved, and the taste is out of this world.

  7. 7 Kim September 28, 2008 at 6:16 pm

    I love your site. I love to cook with my kids and it’s fun reading about others misadventures doing the same. What a great name too!

  8. 8 Nissan November 13, 2008 at 4:41 am

    Enjoyed reading your blog! I teach cooking/baking and also grow a lot of our vegetables. Although the blog came up as I was searching to see what’s new in using uncooked pasta in dishes and using vegetables as pasta substitutes, I thoroughly enjoyed the happy tale and the informed responses. Thanks for the smiles.

  9. 9 chachazoom July 11, 2009 at 11:13 pm

    Also…. a catering trick for noodles. Soak them in really hot tap water for 20 minutes before using.

  10. 10 ClevelandWhiteout July 3, 2010 at 12:40 am

    Late to the table, I know. I just discovered your website and this “recipe”. Love the site and LOVE the idea! Thank you so much. I think I may try alternating zucchini layers with eggplant layers b/c I just adore eggplant lasagna. Wondering If I should pre-bake the eggplant or just forge right ahead raw along with the zucchini. Hmmm, I’ll let you know how it goes!

    Thank you for the site!

  1. 1 The Ethicurean: Chew the right thing. » Blog Archive » Anything zuke can do… Trackback on August 4, 2008 at 8:52 am
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