Here’s a healthy lasagne for those of us who are avoiding carbs, can’t tolerate wheat or just don’t like pasta for that matter. Ribbons of courgette (zucchini) replace the pasta and to make it even healthier we’ve used a low fat ricotta for the creamy part, instead of rich bechamel sauce. Today we used low fat mince because the boys were after some ‘meaty protein’, but we have also used mushrooms in the past instead (a large punnet of field mushrooms, finely sliced) – so it’s a perfect meal if you want to go veggie.
(No prizes for photography here! The boys were so hungry that I forgot to take the photos apart from this one ‘progress shot’, just before it went in the oven.) Credit goes to Zoe who made this for the family in the winter hols (July in Oz) – I feel that, no doubt, Grandma (Pamela) would have approved. It’s perfect when you crave a filling, comforting meal but don’t want all those really fattening components. Let us know if you try it and how you adapted the recipe to your tastes!
- Heat oven to 180 degrees (C).
- Take 3 medium courgettes (approx 6-8 inches long) and slice them into ribbons lengthways. Steam lightly till just going soft (not crunchy and not very soft!). Set aside.
- Saute one finely sliced onion for a few minutes in a drizzle of extra virgin olive oil, then add about 500g lean mince. Brown for approx 5 mins stirring.
- Add in 3 cloves of crushed garlic, 1 tsp dry thyme, 1 tsp dry tarragon and 1tsp dry basil (better to use fresh, if you have it) – stir and continue to cook together for a further 5 mins.
- Add to the meat mixture (or mushrooms if using instead of meat), a grated carrot, a handful of chopped mushrooms, a couple of chopped celery stalks (you can pad out the meat or mushroom mixture with whichever veg you prefer and how much) and a tin of crushed tomatoes (also add 1 tbsp of tomato puree if you like a very tomatoey flavour), stir and cook together for a further 5 mins.
- Meanwhile, whisk one egg with a tub of low fat ricotta (use low fat cottage cheese if you don’t have ricotta) and a cup of low fat grated mozzarella (for stronger flavour use grated cheddar or parmesan). Add seasoning (S&P) to taste.
- Find a suitable baking dish (approx 30 x 15cm or 12 x 6 inch rectangle) and layer the ingredients: meat mix, courgette, cheese mix, meat, courgette, cheese, courgette.
- Bake in oven for 30 minutes. Take out and sprinkle a cup of grated cheese (low fat mozzarella, parmesan or what ever cheddar you have knocking about) and brown in oven for approx 10 minutes.
- Et voila! ready to serve. (watch out – the courgette ribbons can be very hot!)
- courgette x 3
- mince or mushrooms (500g)
- 1 onion
- 3 cloves garlic
- carrot, celery, sweet potato, pumpkin, kale (whichever veggies you prefer to add to the ‘meaty’ layer)
- 1 medium tin of tomatoes
- small tub tomato puree
- thyme, oregano, basil (you can use dry, but fresh is always better)
- low fat ricotta or cottage cheese (350g)
- 1 egg
- 1 1/2 cups grated low fat mozzarella (replace with low fat cheddar or parmesan for a stronger flavour)
- salt & pepper (ground)
If you use aubergine (egg plant) instead of courgette (zucchini), you would have a moussaka like dish. Also if you don’t like the low fat version, go for the real béchamel sauce and full fat cheese!