In the garden this year, zucchinis are one of the few items that have actually been flourishing. Thus, my kitchen is stocked with big fat zucchinis!
Did you know that zucchinis are considered a fruit, but we cook it like a vegetable? There are a number of benefits as to why we should be consuming more zucchini in our everyday lives.
Zucchini is like the cool friend you want at your party. They are sophisticated and get along with everyone.
A few reasons why zucchinis are so great are:
- They help you lose weight! They are so low in calories and made up of a lot of water that you won’t feel guilty if you take an extra helping, or 2, 3…(try making zoodles, so delicious!)
- They are high in a variety of vitamins and minerals, such as potassium, manganese, Vitamin A and C. What this all means is that zucchinis are great for your heart, cholesterol levels, eyes and really, overall health. People like my parents who have high blood pressure and cholesterol, this is one way to help minimize it.
- It’s mild taste and soft texture make it so versatile in cooking. Zucchini is one of those superfoods that get along with so many and pairs so well with a variety of other ingredients.
One of my favourite Italian dishes is lasagna. The combination of pasta, meat, cheese and sauce is something I will never get tired of, but something I cannot eat everyday.
My family enjoys making this veggie variation during the week as it is filling even though there is no pasta. We normally use eggplants as they have a more ‘meatier’ texture than zucchini, but if you slice it thick enough I think I might just like the zucchini version better.
- 1 large zucchini or 2-3 small ones
- Mediterranean sea salt
- Prepared tomato sauce (I use my homemade sauce, I typically add a little salt, pepper, dried oregano and a drizzle of olive oil)
- Mozzarella cheese or bocconcini cheese
- You could add ground beef if you don’t want a vegetarian version.
- Grated Parmigiano-Reggiano (for the top)
The key to using zucchini as a pasta, is to extract any excess water before cooking it. I cut the zucchini in long slices about 1 cm thick and apply liberally mediterranean sea salt over each slice. Let them sit for about 15 minutes and then wipe off the excess water with a paper towel.
Once that is done you may begin the layering process. In a casserole dish begin by adding your prepared tomato sauce layer.
Add a layer of zucchini. I usually cut them in skinnier pieces to let them fit the dish, you want it cover the pan as if they were lasagna sheets.
Add a layer of tomato sauce and then sprinkle mozzarella or bocconcini or how about both? Why not?
Repeat the process until you’ve run out of your ingredients or you have filled your dish, whichever comes first.
I always finish my dish with a sprinkle of cheese and some grated Parmigiano-Reggiano on top.
Bake it in the oven for about 30 minutes at 400 degrees. Sometimes I give it a little broil, but your cheese should have become nice and golden by now.