Monday, September 12, 2011

Grate some zucchini for a lasagna that's creamy

Last year on Recipes That Worked, I wrote about Zucchini-Ribbon Lasagna, a recipe that used ground turkey as the filling and long strips of zucchini in place of the noodles.
   This year, I’ve got another lasagna recipe that uses zucchini, but this time grated zucchini provides the filling and the noodles are the traditional pasta version.
   Creamy Courgette Lasagne (click for the recipe) from BBC Good Food magazine (the British word for zucchini is courgette) is delicious, as superb as any traditional meat-based lasagna.
   The grated zucchini provides a substantial filling that steps up honorably in place of meat to provide a satisfying dish.
   The recipe calls for nine dried lasagna sheets. I found I only needed eight, and that was even with overlapping them generously. I also broke them in half to aid with boiling, then “reassembled” them later by placing them broken end to broken end in the lasagna.
   The recipe says to cook the lasagna sheets for about five minutes until softened, but not cooked through, as the lasagna is also baked in the oven.
   When my husband and I ate the lasagna, we agreed that the noodles were just very slightly undercooked, and that about seven minutes of boiling instead of five would likely have done the trick.
   On the Good Food magazine website, some of the recipe’s reviewers said they used pre-cooked lasagna sheets, available in some supermarkets, to speed up the preparation of the dish even more. They report being pleased with the results.
   The recipe calls for 700 grams of zucchini, which is said to be about six. Those are mighty small zucchini! I found two large ones, purchased at a farmer’s market, weighed almost exactly 700 g (24 oz).
   The recipe also calls for “50 g cheddar” but doesn’t specify in what form the cheddar should take. I guessed, rightly as it turns out, that the cheese should be grated. We used an extra-old cheddar cheese.
   The lasagna is easy to make.
   After the lasagna sheets are boiled, they are rinsed in cold water, then drizzled with some oil to stop them from sticking together.
   Sunflower oil is heated in a large frying pan, then chopped onion, coarsely-grated zucchini, and crushed garlic cloves are cooked in it. Ricotta cheese and grated cheddar cheese are stirred in and the pan is taken off the heat.
   Tomato sauce for pasta is heated in the microwave for two minutes.
   In a large baking dish (I used an 11x7” glass baking dish) the lasagna noodles, zucchini mix and tomato sauce are layered twice before blobs of ricotta cheese are plopped on top with a spoon, and more cheddar is scattered on top.
   The lasagna is baked for about 10 minutes at 220 C (430 F) until the pasta is tender and the cheese is golden.

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