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Keto (or not!) zucchini lasagna

Hi friends! I realize I am truly the worst and most inconsistent blogger, but I promise I’ll continue to try to do better 🙂

I had a lot of interest in my recent talk of zucchini lasagna because it sounds like those of you who have tried it in the past also found it soupy, too! Well it turns out making it keto was the key for me– which means I focused on lowering the carbs as much as possible and upping the fat. Yum!

Back story: we’ve been on the keto wagon since the end of October (except a brief reprieve that I took during the first trimester), and we couldn’t be bigger believers. If you have a single keto question about our experience with it, I’d LOVE to answer it! We are by no means experts or nutritionists or doctors, obviously, but we do our own research thoroughly. We have each read multiple books, fallen in love with the documentary The Magic Pill (that’s now on Netflix!), and Marcus has actually helped compile more than NINETY studies about the keto diet on Reddit! How cool is that?! If you have an interest in reading up on it, I suggest starting with The Art & Science of Low Carb Living by Phinney & Volek. They have to be two of the most respected researchers out there, if ya ask me.

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ANYWAYS! On to the lasagna! So as I’ve told many of you, I am not a recipe cook… call it lazy, call it creative in the kitchen, but I don’t do a lot of measuring. If you know my mother, you know she’s more of the eye-balling type, and I am a lot like her 😉 I can tell you ABOUT what I used, but it’s definitely up to you to fine-tune these things the way I’ve done over the last few years of attempting zucchini lasagna. It really has been a process!

To start, the two things that I think make the biggest difference in the liquid-factor of this dish are 1) sweating your zucchini & 2) using as little tomato as possible and still achieve lasagna flavor.

No, don’t take your zucchini to a sauna with you! Sweating it means giving it a chance to lose a lot of its water content, which undoubtedly contributes to how liquidy your lasagna turns out. I cut the ends off my zucchini (after washing), then cut in half, and then use a mandolin slicer ($20 tops at Bed Bath & Beyond) to cut thin strips. However you slice yours is totally your preference! After slicing up 2-3 zucchini, depending on their size, I lay them all out on a single layer on paper towels. You can choose to salt them here to help bring out extra water, or just plan to let them sit out for at least 20 minutes. After 10-15 minutes, I add a paper towel to the top, too, to really press down and blot them.

While your zuccs are sweatin’ it like Richard Simmons, prepare your innards and brown your meat (I used 1 pound of 80/20 grassfed ground beef). Oh and maybe turn your oven on– I like 400 degrees. I don’t have a reason, it’s just a nice, hot, round number. I used an 8 ounce can of organic tomato paste, about 1/2 cup organic ricotta, about 4 ounces of cream cheese, a generous shaking of Italian seasoning (like 2-3 tablespoons), 1-2 tsp salt, garlic powder, and onion powder each (this is where I’m really estimating and you should use how much of these sounds good to you! We like a strong garlic flavor and need a bunch of extra salt because of keto). I did let my cream cheese sit out a bit before mixing it in here cause I wanted it soft and stirrable. Stir all that together nicely and try not to leave massive chunks of cream cheese– although I’m never opposed to biting into something with a big bite of cream cheese! There’s nothing that isn’t delicious mixed in here, so feel free to give it a taste, too. Now’s a good time to decide if you need more of any of those seasonings, or any other additions you’d like. I’ve made this before where it called for an egg mixed into the ricotta mixture, but I find it isn’t a necessary binding ingredient personally. And this way I can taste test. So if you’re happy with this filling and your zucchinis are happily depleted of some water, lightly grease a casserole dish. I used a deep 8×8 (or maybe it’s 9×9?) Corningware. Layer some zucchini in the bottom and plan for about how many layers you’ll do. It doesn’t really matter, these are all just tedious logistics! Next, scoop out some of your tomato/cheese mixture and spread it over the zucchini pretty evenly, then top that with a generous handful of shredded mozzarella and the ground beef. Note: if you didn’t season your ground beef in the pan, you may want to sprinkle some salt and Italian seasonings over it now. I also think parmesan is an important flavor in this dish, so I also sprinkled a shaved Italian cheese blend here, too. Then start over laying with more zucchini, and continue in that fashion until you’ve used everything up! You can be very tedious and intentional with how much you use of certain ingredients if you’re a macros person, but if you’re like me, just go to town.

Cook uncovered for 30-45, more like 30 if you get impatient and crank the heat up to 425 halfway through… It will take a LONG time to cool– I know this because I burn my mouth on it every. single. time. Just like with Chinese food. I recommend slicing up a few servings and plating them to allow to cool for 4-5 minutes!

I apologize for not being good at writing out a recipe in an easy to read or follow fashion, but I hope this gives you the gist of how to achieve a non-soupy, delicious, low carb alternative to traditional lasagna! I don’t even think Marcus and I would enjoy real lasagna anymore. That’s how much we love this dish! It’s worth the time to prepare and the burned tongue, every time. And the casserole dish that’s still “soaking” in my sink.

Note: if you’re trying to really lower the carbs, you must read labels of the items you choose! For example, I got the Publix brand organic ricotta cheese because it had 2 carbs per serving, whereas a traditional brand had 6! When you’re using several servings of it, that adds up fast. Be picky! 

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