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):


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

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)


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.


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 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!

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...


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! :-)

Unknown 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. :-)
(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!

Deland Brooks said...

I've made it this way quite often but find that it seems to make the lasagna "wet". So later this week I'm going to try it again but put the squash in my dehydrator for a day or so to get the moisture content down and maybe get it to soak up more of the flavor.