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Summer Lasagna With Zucchini Noodles

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Lasagna is comfort food. Usually, when I make a lasagna these days, it’s made with non-dairy cheese of some kind. This time, I used real cheese but instead of traditional pasta noodles, I used thinly sliced zucchini in its place. No one missed the pasta. I usually make lasagna in the winter, but with this substitution of zucchini for pasta, it’s the perfect summer meal. Even though I don’t eat dairy, I do occasionally cook with  grass-fed dairy  because my family feels deprived without any cheese ever.  This lasagna was for my son’s return from college, so I wanted to make him happy by using real mozzarella and ricotta.

Zucchini helps the body with detoxification and it cools you down in the heat of summer. It really does a good job at this cooling job, that’s why this is the perfect lasagna to make in the summertime. It’s also good at settling you down when you are feeling irritable and restless. This summer squash also has a good amount of vitamin C and it possesses properties that help you avoid eye problems. Many people make zucchini a large part of their diet when they are trying to lose weight because it is low in calories yet makes you feel full. I’ve been using zucchini a lot these days for what has become known as “zoodles” or zucchini noodles. Really, I’ve found that almost any pasta dish can be made with zucchini noodles instead of regular pasta. It’s really a pretty cool thing (no pun intended…).

Buy some uniformly-shaped zucchinis (if you buy some really curvy, crooked ones it will make it much more difficult to slice)…
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Slice into thin lengthwise slices (I used a mandolin to make fast work of this, but you can use a sharp knife)…
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I made my favorite simple sauce and added ground beef and spicy sausage (feel free to use store-bought sauce)…
sauce
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Mix ricotta cheese with an egg and some fresh basil…
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And either grate some fresh mozzarella or buy some packaged…
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Now, we are ready to assemble the lasagna. Spoon a little sauce in the bottom of a baking dish and line with zucchini noodles…
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Spread some of the ricotta mixture on top of the zucchini and top that with some meat sauce…
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Then sprinkle on some mozzarella and cover with another layer of zucchini…
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Repeat this layering process 3 times…
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Bake until it’s all gooey and delicious…
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Cut it into squares and enjoy!
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Summer Lasagna With Zucchini Noodles
(serves 9)

2 large zucchini, washed, ends trimmed (try to buy uniformly shaped zucchini that are straight and not too curvy)
1 28-oz can crushed tomatoes
1 Tbs coconut sugar
1/4 tsp sea salt
crushed red pepper flakes to taste
1-1/3 lb grass-fed ground beef
2 spicy Italian sausages, sliced (I used pre-cooked nitrate-free ones)
1 Tbs extra virgin olive oil
sea salt and black pepper to taste
1/4 cup chopped fresh basil
15-oz ricotta cheese
1 egg
3 cups shredded mozzarella cheese

Slice the zucchini lengthwise into paper-thin slices. I used a mandolin, but you can do this by hand with a sharp knife as well. Set aside.

If making your own sauce, put the tomatoes, 1/4 tsp salt, coconut sugar and red pepper flakes into a medium sauce pan and let simmer for 30 – 45 minutes. Or, use store-bought sauce.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Heat oil in a large sauté pan and add ground beef and sausages. Saute until cooked through. Add the meat to the sauce and let simmer 10 minutes.

In a small bowl, combine the ricotta, basil and egg. Whisk until smooth.

Put a little sauce in the bottom of a 9 x 13-inch baking dish. Lay zucchini noodles across the bottom so it’s entirely covered (5 or 6 slices layed crosswise should do it). Spread a little ricotta mixture on top of the zucchini. Spoon a little sauce on top. Sprinkle with mozzarella. Top with another layer of zucchini. Repeat this layering process 3 times, ending with mozzarella.

Bake until the cheese is all gooey and the lasagna is hot, about 30 minutes.

Let cool at least 15 minutes, then cut into squares and enjoy!

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