Wednesday, October 23, 2013

No Pasta "Lasagna"

So. . .I've started eating low starch. The switch has not been particularly hard, except for the times I crave a specific food, like lasagna. Now, I never made lasagna when I ate pasta--all those noodles get messy. I just made spaghetti and called myself happy. But the hubby (the Darling Beloved) needed an idea for lunch that we could make ahead and then heat up. So No Pasta Lasagna was born.

It has everything you could want in a meal--plenty of garlic, melted cheese, great veggies, a yummy sauce, and can be heated up over and over and it will only get better. There are plenty of variations you can do to make it your own, so don't be afraid to get creative!

This one has hamburger, because that's what the Darling Beloved likes in his lasagna. I'll go over possible substitutes at the end of the recipe.

Here's the list of ingredients you'll need:

  • 3/4 lb hamburger
  • 1 red pepper, sliced into strips
  • about 1-1 1/2 cups cooked spinach, squeezed dry
  • 1 zucchini, sliced in rounds
  • 1 large onion, chopped
  • 4 cloves of garlic
  • 1/2 tsp dry oregano, or one or two sprigs fresh, leaves removed
  • 1 tsp dry basil, or a small handful of fresh leaves
  • 1 4-6 oz tub of pesto (you can make your own with this recipe
  • Several thick slices of mozzarella cheese, preferably whole milk from grass-fed cows
  • Salt to taste
  • Coconut oil and/or butter to saute the vegetables (the coconut oil will give the veggies a sweetness).

This recipe is odd for me because it has several steps, and you have to keep it all separate until the end. I did mix the peppers and zucchini, because it seemed easier. Keep them separate or not as you wish.

Saute all the veggies and the hamburger. I used coconut oil for the pepper/zucchini mix, and butter for the onions.

I measured the dry spices just for this recipe--usually I just toss them in whatever amount looks pretty. Cooking them with the onion made the onion prettier and made sure they got mixed in to dish well. I also tossed the garlic in with the onions after about a minute.

The spinach was already cooked, so I just squeezed it dry (NOTE: if you are smarter than me, you will have the spinach cooked and cooled before you start. Hot spinach hurts!)

Once you have all your layers cooked, including the hamburger, assemble your lasagna. I started with sauce, then kind of lost all sense. I did one layer of pepper-zucchini, then pesto, then spinach, then cheese,
then onion, then meat, then remembered the pesto and added it. I don't think the layers were orderly, but I got the thing full. I had to press it all down occasionally to pack it in.

Now, everybody into the oven! Since all the ingredients were cooked, and I knew we would be heating it up repeatedly, I just put it under the broiler long enough for the cheese to turn brown and gorgeous.


  1. I cooked everything separately in hopes of avoiding too much liquid from coming off the vegetables. The next time I make this, I may try roasting the vegetables instead of cooking them on the stovetop. The final product came out a little greasy for my taste, but the Darling Beloved loved it.
  2. Hamburger is not my favorite lasagna ingredient, and there are a few other things I like better than the ingredients above. So if I were making this dish just for me, I would make these modifications:
    1. Substitute fresh basil leaves and parmasan cheese for the pesto. (I'd just drink the pesto instead--I love it!)
    2. Use shredded poached chicken, turkey, or even portabello mushrooms for the meat portion.
    3. Mix feta cheese into the spinach (and I might use kale instead).
    4. I would use more zucchini and/or yellow squash, and some sliced or sun-dried tomatoes.
  3. Other ideas:
    1. Use butternut squash, sweet potatoes, and leeks for your veggies. Keep the garlic! Substitute sage or nutmeg (probably at least a teaspoon, probably more) for the basil/oregano--two very different taste choices, but I think either would be best. Use ricotta in the dish, and keep the mozzarella just for the top.
    2. For a more Mexican flair, add 1 T cumin and 1/4 t coriander to the spice mix. If you like heat, finely chop a jalapeno pepper or two and add it to the spinach. Serve with guacamole and sour cream.
    3. If you don't do dairy, you can either skip the cheese entirely, or make a tofu "cheese" the night before (it needs to sit to let the tofu absorb flavors). Use 1 tub of tofu, weighted and drained for a couple of hours. Mix in 1 tablespoon lemon juice, 1/4 t nutmeg, 1 T fresh parsley, and 2 cloves of very finely chopped garlic. Layer into the dish as usual, but be sure to cook the lasagna at least half an hour. 

Let me know if you have any other additions to suggest. I think this dish can be endlessly adapted.

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