Monday, September 23, 2013

Lasagna w/ Yellow Summer Squash Noodles

Today we enjoyed another fall-like day here in the Atlanta area. It's funny how the sky looks so different all of a sudden -- beautiful clear blue skies filled with lots of big fluffy white clouds -- it actually looks like a fall sky. With our evening temps dipping into the upper 50s, it's just a matter of time before the leaves begin to turn colors and fall. Yesterday we celebrated my oldest son's birthday and had the whole family over. It's been a while since I've had all of them under the same roof at the same time! I made lasagna for dinner -- the regular kind for all of the wheat-eaters and a smaller separate one for me. It's so easy to do because everything else is exactly the same, except for the noodles.

I decided to try yellow summer squash for the noodles this time. Yellow summer squash tends to have a slightly sweeter flavor to me with a different flavor than zucchini -- nothing drastic, but more subtle. I made a batch of very meaty meat sauce -- I used 3 pounds of ground sirloin. I used a good jarred sauce (DelGrosso's Fireworks Sauce, which is spicy). I wanted a thick spicy meat sauce. You can use your favorite lasagna recipe to make this -- just make or buy a good sauce that doesn't contain sugar or any corn syrup as sweetener. I used 2 26-ounce jars for 3 pounds of meat that I added to the meat after I browned it along with a small diced onion (I seasoned the meat well with sea salt, black pepper, red pepper flakes, 6 chopped fresh sage leaves and a few generous pinches of fennel seed to give the beef a "sausage-like flavor"). I added the sauce to the browned, seasoned beef and simmer uncovered for about 20 minutes.

The trick to making a good lasagna when you substitute zucchini or yellow squash for noodles is to make sure you don't use too much sauce, and the thicker the better. The meat sauce I made was enough to make one large deep regular lasagna for the family as well as a 9.5" x 9.5" square 3-layer wheat-free lasagna for me. The funny thing is that my younger son wanted to eat MY lasagna instead of the regular kind -- he tried the regular kind but preferred mine -- so that just proves that it really is good regardless of whether or not you are a wheat-eater! While I do believe that they all would have eaten and enjoyed it if I had just made my wheat-free version -- since this was a birthday dinner, I always cater to the birthday person (it's called mother's prerogative). Believe it or not, it's actually really easy to make a separate and smaller modified version of the same thing for yourself, if you are the only wheat-free person in your house with minimal time and effort. I just placed the casserole dishes side by side and layered them at the same time.  The amount of lasagna that I prepared last night made 12 generous portions (4 wheat-free servings in my little casserole and 8 servings in the larger regular-version casserole). I photographed my lasagna yesterday but waited until this evening to write it up and post it so I could spend the evening uninterrupted with my family. Hubby and I enjoyed having the leftovers again this evening and I sent lasagna home with the kids, too. I snapped a few photos for you to see below as well as my simple recipe for the 4-serving casserole which can easily be doubled or tripled, depending on how many you are serving. I served the lasagna with a fresh green salad on the side. Enjoy!








Lasagna w/ Yellow Summer Squash Noodles

Basic instructions: To make the 4-serving 9.5" x 9.5" casserole, I made "yellow squash noodles" by thinly slicing 3 medium yellow summer squash (about 1/4" thick), lightly sprayed them with olive oil and seasoned with sea salt and black pepper and roasted in a 400 degree F oven for about 15-20 minutes until fork-tender. In addition to the thick meaty sauce, I used fresh mozzarella cheese, ricotta cheese, shredded regular mozzarella cheese and shredded Parmigiano Reggiano to top the lasagna with. To make the smaller 4-serving casserole you would need the following ingredients (double the recipe to serve 8 or triple to serve 12):

INGREDIENTS:

Noodles:
3 to 4 medium yellow summer squash (or zucchini), sliced lengthwise in 1/4" slices

Meat sauce:
2 tablespoons olive oil (for browning beef and onion)
1 pound ground sirloin
1/4 cup diced onion
Seasonings to taste, optional: salt, black pepper, cayenne pepper, sage and fennel seed (if you want to give a sausage-like flavor to your browned beef)
2/3 of a 26-oz jar of pasta sauce

Cheeses:
1/2 pound fresh mozzarella cheese
8 ounces shredded regular mozzarella cheese
3/4 cup ricotta cheese (or about 1/3 of a 16-oz container)
1/3 cup shredded Parmigiano Reggiano (or regular Parmesan cheese)

INSTRUCTIONS:

This is the order I layered everything:
  • Thin layer of meat sauce in the bottom of the casserole dish;
  • Layer 1/3 of "noodles" (I used yellow summer squash)
  • Layer the ricotta cheese
  • 2nd thin layer of meat sauce
  • 2nd layer of  1/3 of "noodles"
  • Layer the fresh mozzarella (break up with fingers and scatter evenly)
  • Layer 1/2 of the shredded regular mozzarella
  • 3rd thin layer of meat sauce
  • 3rd and final 1/3 layer of "noodles"
  • 4th and final thin layer of meat sauce on top
  • Layer remaining half of shredded mozzarella cheese
  • Topped with shredded Parmigiano Reggiano cheese
Bake uncovered in a 375 degree F oven for about about 35 minutes or until hot and bubbly. Let sit for about 15-20 minutes for the cheeses to cool down a bit so it isn't too hot and the cheeses can set so the lasagna doesn't slide all over the place when cut.  Serves 4.


11 comments:

rhodeanie said...

I'm eager to try this? I may try the wheat-free recipe with my family--unannounced wheat-free. It will be interesting.

Kath said...

You have read my mind! I have been thinking about making Lasagna with zucchini for days now. I love your idea of using summer squash. Your version looks perfect!

Gourmet Girl Cooks said...

Hi Rhodeanie! LOL, that would be a great idea -- sometimes when you tell them in advance it is "different"...they look for things wrong with it...at least that is how my family is. But, if they don't know or if I make it "just for me"...then everyone wants the "special version". :-)

Gourmet Girl Cooks said...

Hi Kathy! Thanks. You could even use a mixture if you wanted to -- a couple layers of zucchini and 1 layer of yellow squash or vice versa. Hope you enjoy it -- you can easily use your own favorite recipe, too and just sub out the noodles. :-)

unter der laterne said...

eHi GG. I have a wonderful son in law, but when it comes to food, that he is not familiar with , he will not touch it.I have great recipes from Africa that are so good (before *grain free*) and everybody loved, it did not matter, he will not touch it, just when the food has a foreign name , it will be rejected. He misses out on a lot of delicious cuisine.
.This lasagne looks fabulous and I will cook it and keep my mouth shut!lol. How can one not love this!
I have never used *sage* in my meat sauce . How interesting! I have to be careful, since my husband and I are on opposite sides when it comes to herbs and spices, the Swiss and Germans use it very little, except for parsley and chives. But I love it, since I have enjoyed so many different ethnic dishes. I think the taste buds evolve! Oh but how I dislike Okra!
Thank you for wonderful recipe!
Barbara.

Gourmet Girl Cooks said...

Hi Barbara! Funny how people's tastes are so different -- both of my sons are very opposite taste-wise -- one will eat almost anything or try it -- the other is picky and not as experimental. Too funny about making it and "keeping your mouth shut" -- but sometimes that is the only way to get them to branch out before their mind decides they don't like it before their mouth gets a chance to taste it! :-)

CyberSis said...

Hi GGC,

Yum ... how delectable is *this* dish! Although I really love both kinds of "pasta," I've become quite a fan of summer squash. It seems to hold it's shape better than zucchini. Maybe it's just me, but I find I have to be a little more careful about over-cooking the zukes.

We are into some gorgeous fall weather, too. Enjoy! :-)

Loretta M said...

You've heard the song, haven't you?...Greek pie in the morning, greek pie in the evening, greek pie at supper time...LOL

Made it again yesterday. :-)

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EgidhtnHq_s
(song starts @ 1:20)

This is a little before my time, but I remember my Mom singing this song. A little nostalgia for you this morning. Happy Day.

P.S. You look glamorous in your new picture on your site.

Gourmet Girl Cooks said...

Hi CyberSis! Yes, I too find that zucchini can get soggy more easily than yellow squash and seems to release more juice/liquid. I enjoyed the lasagna with yellow squash and always wondered how it would work -- now I know! I am loving the cooler weather for sure. :-)

Gourmet Girl Cooks said...

Hi Loretta! LOL...sounds like you like the Greek Spinach Feta-Pie as much as I do! I actually plan to make it sometime this week (big surprise, right?). Thanks for the touch of nostalgia, too -- my father loved Perry Como! Thanks, too, about my picture...glamorous makes me giggle a bit since I never see/consider myself that way! :-)

Msd28405 said...

Definitely trying this. I made a zucchini lasagna last year and was shocked how good it was. I liked the texture of the zucchini over than traditional noodle lasagna and it's so much healthier. Now my garden is producing huge summer squash and wondered if I could sub it for the zucchini. Now I'm sure it will be just as good or better. It wasn't easy slicing lengthwise evenly so I may just use thin rounds. Thanks for the idea!