Friday, July 11, 2014

No pasta lasagna and Mom


No pasta lasagna is a treat everybody can enjoy. Make some for Mom.

No Pasta Lasagna
No Pasta Lasagna | PHOTO CREDIT: P-G Matuszak

Lasagna is one of those guilty pleasure dishes that many recovering carbohydrate addicts, diabetics, and gluten-sensitive individuals mourn having to do without. With this recipe, they don’t have to.

If Mom is getting up in years and conditions such as type-2 diabetes, Alzheimer’s or  Parkinson’s run in the family, Mom may have made the choice to go gluten-free. Several neurologists, cardiologists and nutritionists such as Dr. David Perlmutter and Dr. William Davis looked at long-term studies and found possible correlations between modern wheat gluten and these conditions as well as inflammation and heart disease. Current research indicates as many as 40 percent of Americans are gluten intolerant and don’t even know it. We love Mom and want to keep her around for many years to come. If her doctor recommended a low-carb, gluten-free diet, this main course is a great and tasty Mother’s Day meal.

It takes a bit of time to prepare, but the kids can help out, especially in the final assembly. Just make sure they wash their hands often.

No Pasta Lasagna

Serves 6

Ingredients:

Zucchini – 1 large or 2 small
Extra virgin Olive Oil – 2 tbsp
Basil, chopped (fine) – 1 tbsp
Sauce:
Roma tomatoes – 3-4
Basil – 2 tbsp
Oregano – 1 tbsp
Extra virgin olive oil – 2 tbsp
Balsamic vinegar – 1 tbsp
Marsala wine – 2 tbsp
Garlic, minced – 1 tbsp
Cayenne powder – 1/2 tsp
Fillings:
Italian sausage – 12-16 oz
(Alternate – 12-16 oz ground beef or ground turkey mixed with 1 tsp black pepper, 1tbsp fennel seed, and 1 tbsp minced garlic, browned)
Mozzarella cheese, grated – 5 oz (about 2/3 cup dry measure)
Parmesan cheese, grated – 2 oz (about 1/4 cup dry measure)
Ricotta cheese – 15 oz
Fennel seed – 1 tbsp
Garlic, minced – 1 tbsp
Spinach, chopped – 8 oz (about 1 cup)
Top:
Mozzarella cheese, grated – 3 oz
Provolone cheese, shredded – 2 oz

Directions:

No Pasta Lasagna | PHOTO CREDIT: P-G Matuszak
No Pasta Lasagna | PHOTO CREDIT: P-G Matuszak

Preheat oven to 400 degrees Fahrenheit.

Quarter the tomatoes and place them in your food processor or blender. Add the other sauce ingredients and blend until desired consistency. The sauce will be thin, but can be as chunky or smooth as desired. With lasagne, usually the smoother the better, though. Put the sauce in a small saucepan and simmer on low to reduce, slightly. This will help thicken the sauce.

Cut the stem portions off of the zucchini. Using a mandolin or a vegetable peeler, slice the zucchini longways into thin strips. Add extra virgin olive oil and chopped basil. Toss together until well coated. Set aside.
Slice the sausage and lightly brown in a skillet. If using the alternate, mix the ingredients into a skillet with a small amount of olive oil and lightly brown. Set aside.

No Pasta Lasagna | PHOTO CREDIT: P-G Matuszak
Kids can treat mom | PHOTO CREDIT: P-G Matuszak

In a medium mixing bowl, combine cheeses for the filling. Add in the spices and spinach. Mix until well blended. Using clean hands is fine and can be fun for children.

In a small baking dish, place about 1/2 tablespoon of olive oil and spoon in just enough sauce to cover the bottom once spread. Lay the first layer of zucchini slices down, overlapping slightly. Next place a layer of half the sausage followed by a layer of half the cheese filling mixture. Place another layer of zucchini, perpendicular to the direction of the first layer. Overlapping is not as important for the middle layer. Top the zucchini layer with another layer of sauce, just enough to cover the zucchini. Layer with the second half of sausage followed by the cheese mixture. Top with a final layer of zucchini slices, going in the same direction as the bottom layer. Top with the rest of the sauce and the shredded cheese mix. Bake for 45 minutes at 400 degrees. Let stand for 5 minutes outside the oven. The heat trapped within the lasagna will continue to cook though removed from heat. Slice into portions. Let stand an additional 5 minutes before serving.
This pairs well with a semi-sweet Italian or Greek red wine such as a Sangiovese or Chianti.

No Pasta Lasagna | PHOTO CREDIT: P-G Matuszak
No Pasta Lasagna | PHOTO CREDIT: P-G Matuszak

No Pasta Lasagna | PHOTO CREDIT: P-G Matuszak
Kids make Mom a special meal | PHOTO CREDIT: P-G Matuszak

This recipe is easy enough for a ten year old to make with adult supervision. An adult should handle the actual cooking portions to include placing the lasagna in the oven, removing it from the heat and slicing it into portions. When slicing, steam may escape.  Kids’ involvement will allow them to help make Mother’s day special. If you teach them some elements of mis en place, and your clean as you go, the mess it manageable, even for Dad.

For a great finish, spoon out some spumoni or chocolate gelato garnished with fresh strawberries or raspberries.

Don’t forget to give Mom a hug and a kiss and to thank her for your life and everything else she has done for you over the years. Mom is special. Without her, you would not be. That includes adoptive and foster mothers who share their love, nurturing and caring. There is no greater gift than a mother’s or father’s love. Cherish them.

Disclaimer: The author is not a medical doctor nor currently a registered dietitian. The information provided in this article is for entertainment purposes only and is not meant to be interpreted as medical, nutritional or health advice. Please seek the advice of an expert before starting any new diet or exercise program.