Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Recipe Box: Gluten-Free Lasagna

Gluten-Free Lasagna

This uses zucchini instead of noodles, but you can substitute summer squash or eggplant depending on what's in season.  The salting and roasting of the squash and the cooking down of the sauce reduces the moisture content.  In regular lasagna the noodles absorb a lot of moisture so it can be tricky to keep noodleless versions from being sloppy.   If you still end up with watery lasagna (it will depend on the moisture content of the ricotta and squash) you can use corn starch to thicken sauce before spreading in the lasagna layer.  This will trap some additional moisture during baking. 

Use a high-sided 9x13 pan or two 8x8.  Freezes well either baked or unbaked.  


4-6 medium size zucchini
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 pound ground beef or Italian sausage
1 chopped medium onion
3 cloves minced garlic
1 24 ounce jar marinara sauce
1 small can tomato paste
1/2 cup diced carrots
1/2 cup red wine
4 cups ricotta cheese
2 large eggs
1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese
2 cups fresh spinach, chopped and lightly packed
1 Tablespoon fresh basil, chopped
2 cups shredded mozzarella cheese
1 teaspoon dried oregano
1 teaspoon salt


Slice zucchini into thin, wide strips (you do not have to peel first).  Place on a layer of paper (or clean, lint-free) towels on a cookie sheet and salt.  Place another layer of towel over it and weight it with another cookie sheet.  This will draw moisture from the squash.  Leave for at least 1/2 hour, replacing top towel layer if saturated.

In a medium sauce pan, cook the ground sausage or beef until no longer pink. 
Add onion, garlic and carrots and cook until onions are translucent and sausage is browned. 

Add marinara sauce, tomato paste and red wine to mixture.  Simmer uncovered for 20 minutes or until very thick.  Stir occasionally.

Preheat oven to 450 degrees F.

In a medium bowl, mix ricotta cheese, eggs, half the Parmesan, chopped spinach and basil.  set aside.

Rinse the zucchini strips to remove salt and dry on paper towels.  Place on cookie sheet in a single layer and brush top lightly with olive oil.  Roast on top rack for 3 minutes or until just starting to brown.  Flip and roast for an additional 3 minutes or until beginning to brown.  Remove from oven.  Don't worry if they seem dry; they will absolutely absorb plenty of moisture from the lasagna.

Reduce heat to 350 degrees F.   Move rack to center of oven.

Coat baking dish(es) with olive oil. 

Spread a thin layer of sauce in the bottom of the pan. 

Top with a layer of zucchini slices. 

Top with a layer of the ricotta mixture. 

Top with a layer of mozzarella cheese

Repeat until pan is full.  Finish with a layer of sauce, a thicker layer of mozzarella, the remaining Parmesan, and the dried oregano. 

Place finished pans on a cookie sheet or layer of foil for baking; this will catch drips and keep your oven clean. 

Bake at 350 degrees F for 45 minutes or until cheese on top is browned and bubbly. 

Let stand 10-20 minutes before serving to finish firming up.

If you're slicing it up for lunches or freeze-ahead meals, it will be much easier to handle if completely cool or even refrigerated overnight.  The cheese has less of a tendency of escaping and you can cut nice neat tupperware-size squares. 

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