Today we’re preparing one of my favorite zucchini recipes – zucchini lasagna, a veggie-based twist on a perennial favorite. Perfect for making ahead, or as light dinner, or as part of a hardier meal, this is one recipe you absolutely ‘must’ add to your repertoire.
Why you’ll love Zucchini Lasagna
1) Made for Make Ahead. Making recipes ahead of time is one of the best ways to help fit homemade meals into your busy schedule, and today’s zucchini lasagna was made with precisely that in mind. You can prepare today’s zucchini lasagna, and then instead of popping it in the oven simply pop it in the fridge for up to two nights until you’re ready to bake and eat it.
2) A Veggie-Based Entrée the Whole Family Will Love. Today’s combination of zucchini layered with cheese and sauce is something the entire family will absolutely love.
3) A Delicious Side. While today’s lasagna can be served as a light dinner, it’s light enough to pair as a side to a hardier meal, pairing particularly well with pasta and red sauce, sausage and peppers, or even steaks.
Ingredient Notes and Tips
1) Zucchini vs Cucumbers – A Tale of Unsubtle Differences. Given their largely similar appearance, new home-cooks might be tempted to believe that zucchinis and cucumbers are similar or even interchangeable. However, the differences between these two items could hardly be ‘less’ subtle. On the exterior, zucchinis are dry to the touch with a rough skin, whereas cucumbers tend to be ‘cold’ and smooth, or sometimes waxy. On tasting, raw zucchini tends to be rather unpalatable due to its dry and bitter taste with an interior whose texture is often described as ‘dry and spongey,’ whereas the moist and crisp interior of a cucumber makes it a perfect ‘stick’ veggie for eating raw or dipping. However, the aforementioned taste and texture of a zucchini makes it ideal for cooking, particularly frying and baking – think zucchini frites, fried zucchini sticks, and stir fried zucchini strips.
2) Grating Cheese – Subtle Differences that Make a Difference. The three most popular types of grating cheese here in the US are Romano, Permesan, and Reggiano. First things first, Parmesan is American produced Parmigiano Reggiano. ‘Real’ Parmigiano Reggiano ‘must’ be produced in Italy due to a combination of Italian and EU trademark laws. Thus, they are functionally the same cheese – although Reggiano is considerably pricier (at least here in the US), and is widely regarded to be of generally higher quality. Both are produced from cow’s milk, and are aged for two or more years, giving the cheese what many describe as a ‘sharp’ and salty flavor. Pecorino Romano, by contrast, is produced from sheep’s milk, and is only aged for around eight months, giving it a slightly less sharp and considerably less salty flavor. Very often these three cheeses are used interchangeably to mean “Grating Cheese.” The honest truth is that very few palates can ‘blindly’ tell the difference, especially when they are used as grating cheese. No, Locatelli is ‘not’ a variety of cheese, it is an Italian brand of Romano.
3) Mozzarella- Fresh vs Packaged. I could be a ‘food snob’ here and decry the ‘vices’ of packaged, non-fresh mozzarella, but the difference is a bit more nuanced. To start, yes, fresher is always better – and mozzarella is no different. Fresh mozzarella is undeniably moister, with a fluffy or even silky texture, with something of a milky quality to it, and above all it simply tastes ‘fresher’ – imagine that. Thus, opt for fresh whenever you can. However – and this is a big ‘however’ – fresh mozzarella is far from always being a ‘must.’ Recipes that call for fresh mozzarella involve those where the ‘milky’ taste and ‘fluffy’ texture won’t either be overpowered by the other ingredients, or destroyed by a harsh cooking process. That said, if the mozzarella is going to be drowned out by a medley of powerful ingredients, or baked down, then you can save yourself a few dollars and buy packaged. After all, there’s really no point in paying for fresh mozzarella when all of the qualities that make ‘fresh’ desirable are being lost. Today’s recipe is one such case.
If You Like Zucchini Lasagna You’ll Love
1) Sausage and Potatoes. A great side to this lasagna if you’re looking for autumn-themed comfort food.
2) Ravioli. One of my favorite ravioli recipes, this would be a great complement to today’s lasagna. Also, they’re a great fall recipe on their own as well. l
3) Zucchini Fettucine. If you’re in the market for more zucchini recipes, give my zucchini fettucine recipe a try, a perfectly balanced combination of fresh tomatoes, zucchini, set over fettucine pasta.
4) Zoodles – Noodles made from Zucchini. If you’re feeling adventurous, here’s my take on zoodles, which I prepared with a sesame peanut sauce.
If You Enjoyed Today’s Recipe…
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Enjoy with Love!