Bring Zucchini Off the Bench Tonight!
I love pasta. Any type, any dish, any time. The only problem is that my stomach typically gets a bit angry with me for eating it. While part of the issue may be the amount of cheese that I often include in my dishes, I went on a hunt for a lighter version and wound up taking my mom’s lasagna recipe and making it using zucchini strips. Plus, I took a spin-off of another favorite, pizza, and started making it with zucchini slices that make a fun, quick appetizer or easy snack! Making that swap not only sits a little lighter on your stomach, but it also packs in extra nutrients from the veggies, and it happens to be gluten free! You can also use eggplant as the noodle if zucchini is not a favorite of yours. An added bonus: if you have a hard time eating veggies or getting your kids to eat them, these are sneaky ways to hide the flavor a bit ☺
- 1-2 medium zucchinis or 1 eggplant, washed and ends cut off, and cut into round slices approx. ½ inch thick
- Line a baking sheet with tin foil and spray with pam
- Place the bites on the cooking sheet a couple of inches apart
- Drizzle or brush lightly with olive oil
- Option 1: spoon a thin layer of your favorite spaghetti sauce and spread onto each bite
- Option 2: spoon a thin amount of petite diced tomatoes onto each slice
- Sprinkle with fresh chopped or dried basil and oregano, and a sprinkle of garlic powder
- Choose your toppings from below but try to keep it fairly simple so the bites aren’t too heavy
- Slice of turkey pepperoni
- Diced red onion
- Diced bell pepper
- Black olives
- Banana peppers
- Sprinkle each bite with mozzarella cheese
- Bake at 400 degrees for approx. 15-20 minutes or until cheese and zucchini edges start to brown
- **You can also grill these placing the bites directly on the grill or place them on a sheet of tin foil
Photo: Hip Foodie Mom
Zucchini Pizza Boats
- 2-4 zucchinis
- Cut the ends off and slice the zucchinis in half lengthwise
- Using a melon baller, scoop out the insides of each of the halves
- Continue with the directions from the pizza bites to fill each boat and bake or grill them. ENJOY!
Photo: Peas of Cake
- 4-5 zucchinis
- 1 pound ground 93/7 (lean to fat) beef OR ground turkey OR ground chicken
- 2 cloves garlic, minced or 2 tbsp. pre-minced garlic
- ½ yellow onion, diced
- 1 15 oz. can petite diced tomatoes (basil and olive oil)
- 1 small can tomato paste
- Handful of spinach (optional but I like to add it as a mix in)
- Handful fresh basil, chopped OR 1 tbsp. dried basil and 1 tbsp. dried oregano
- *Optional- splash of red wine (cabernet or merlot work well)
- 1 small container part skim ricotta cheese
- 2/3 container skim or 2 % cottage cheese
- ½ cup fresh parmesan cheese
- 2 tbsp. parsley
- 1 egg
- 1 medium bag mozzarella or Italian blend cheese
- 1 package non-smoked provolone cheese slices
- Salt and pepper to taste
- Pre-heat oven to 425 degrees and line a 9 x 13 baking dish with tin foil, spray with Pam or olive oil
Zucchini strips: For best flavor, cut ends off of zucchinis and slice thin strips lengthwise (about a ¼ inch). Brush strips with olive oil and sprinkle with salt and pepper. You can then either grill them for a little smoky flavor, bake them, or microwave them until they are starting to slightly soften then remove from heat and set aside.
Meat sauce: In a large skillet, spray with Pam, heat (medium) and add garlic. Once it starts to brown, add the meat, dash of salt and pepper, and cook until it starts to brown, then add onions and if using the dried herbs, at them as well (wait if using fresh basil). Continue to cook until meat is fully cooked through, then add the fresh spinach. Lower heat to medium low and add the can of diced tomatoes and tomato paste, fresh basil, and optional splash of wine. Stir and lower heat to let simmer, continuing to stir occasionally.
Filling Mix: In a large mixing bowl, mix the ricotta, cottage cheese, 1 egg, parsley, and parmesan cheese together.
- To bake, lay the zucchini strips lengthwise in the pan until they mostly cover the bottom. Spread a thin layer of the ricotta mixture over them, then a layer of the meat sauce. Top this with 2-3 slices of provolone, torn up into pieces, and sprinkle with the mozzarella or Italian mix cheese. REPEAT THIS WHOLE PROCESS FOR A SECOND LAYER STARTING WITH THE ZUCCHINI STRIPS. Once the second layer is complete, top with the remaining cheese, cover with tin foil, and bake for 40-45 minutes. ** I like to take the cover off with about 10 minutes to spare so that the cheese bubbles and gets a little browned.
Photo: Happy Healthy Mama
– LAUREN ORMSBEE, CHC, CEP