If you have been following a Low Carbohydrate High Fat (LCHF) / Ketogenic (Keto) way of eating (WOE), then you have probably seen or made many recipes that substitute zucchini noodles (zoodles) in place of pasta. One recipe in particular that I think that zucchini works well in is lasagna, but I must admit it took me a couple of times until I figured out exactly how to prepare it the way that I liked it. At first there was something about the texture that I just could not get right, and the flat style zoodles were difficult to cut with a fork when eating. After two tries I figured it out that the simple trick was to peel the zucchini before slicing it on the mandolin slicer.
Leaving the peel on the zucchini would make the zoodles difficult to cut with a fork, and you would pull out the whole slice of zucchini when taking a bite. While this is not a major catastrophe, it really bothered me for some reason. Anyway, to solve this problem, I started to peel my zucchini with a standard potato peeler before slicing them with the thin blade attachment on my mandolin slicer.
Now there are several caveats to doing it this way that you must keep in mind. First, because of it's high water content, once the zucchini is peeled, it is slightly difficult to control when using the slicer. So you must be very careful not to cut yourself when using the mandolin. Second, a lot of the benefits of the vegetable (vitamins and minerals) are often found in the peeling. However, because I am such a texture eater, I choose to peel my zucchini, which makes the meal a lot more pleasurable for me. The bottom line is that you can leave the peel on if you like, but for me, once the zucchini is peeled and sliced thin, it is a better representation of a traditional lasagna noodle. Anyway, let's get on to making a delicious LCHF / Keto lasagna that I am sure that both you and your family will enjoy.
24 ounces pasta / marinara sauce (see below)
1 pound hamburger (73/27), cooked and drained
1 large zucchini, peeled
1 cup ricotta cheese
1 cup mozzarella cheese, shredded
1 large egg
1 tablespoon Italian seasoning
¼ teaspoon each salt and black pepper
Cook ground beef in a a medium sized saucepan until no longer pink, drain and set aside. If you like you may rinse with warm water to remove some of the grease, but this will decrease the fat content.
Peel, and using the thin blade of your mandolin slicer, slice the zucchini lengthwise.
Chef's Note: Care must be taken when slicing peeled zucchini as it is very slippery and can be hard to control and you can easily cut yourself if you are not careful. You can leave the peel on the zucchini, but I think it acts more like pasta if you feel the vegetable before slicing. This is however my personal preference.
Next, combine the ricotta, egg, Italian seasoning, salt and pepper in a small bowl and mix with a spoon until will combined. Now you are ready to layer the ingredients to make the lasagna.
Using a 9 ½ x 7 ¼-inch (11 cup) pan layer the ingredients starting with a small amount of sauce, then about one-third of the ground hamburger meat, a layer of zucchini, then the ricotta mixture, then one-third cup of the mozzarella cheese. Continue layering until you use all of the ingredients. Usually for this recipe it is two layers of each, finishing with the remaining sauce, ground hamburger and cheese as the top layer. Sprinkle a little Italian seasoning on top if you wish and then it is ready for the oven or the freezer. There is no right or wrong way to layer your lasagna so you can do it in whatever order you prefer.
Bake in a 350 degree oven for 90 minutes or until the sauce is bubbling and the cheese is melted. Allow to cool for about 10 minutes after removing from the oven before serving.
Chef's Note: One thing you may notice is that lasagna made with zucchini is slightly more watery than a traditional lasagna. Because zucchini contains a lot of water, a fair amount will leech out into the sauce as it cooks. This is not a problem for us, and it keeps the lasagna from drying out when reheating leftovers.
The following nutritional information for this recipe is as follows. When compared to a traditional lasagna that you would buy at your local supermarket you can see how the elimination of pasta really reduces the amount of carbohydrates in the meal. The Keto lasagna has 75% less carbohydrates than the Stouffers, and Great Value traditional frozen lasagnas with meat sauce.
Keto Lasagna (about 59 ounces, 6 servings)
Total Recipe – Calories 2480, fat 186.3 grams, protein 139.9 grams, carbohydrates 48.7 grams
Per Serving – Calories 413, fat 31 grams, protein 23.3 grams, carbohydrates 8.1 grams
Stouffers Lasagna Family Size (57 ounces, 7 servings)
Total Recipe – Calories 2240, fat 84 grams, protein 140 grams, carbohydrates 224 grams
Per serving – Calories 320, fat 12 grams, protein 20 grams, carbohydrates 32 grams
Great Value Lasagna Party Size (90 ounces, 12 servings)
Total Recipe – Calories 3000, fat 108 grams, protein 156 grams, carbohydrates 360 grams
Per serving – Calories 250, fat 9 grams, protein 13 grams, carbohydrates 30 grams
There is one thing you cannot avoid when making a lasagna and that is the fact that tomatoes have carbohydrates, generally in the form of natural sugars. You can choose to make your own marinara sauce for your lasagna, or simply use plain tomato sauce. For this recipe, I grabbed a jar of 'Classico' pasta sauce from my pantry because I was in a hurry, but most of the time I make my own. Putting aside the fact that pre-made pasta sauces have some preservatives etc that many people may not like, from a purely nutritional standpoint, the Classico has added fat (10 grams), and the protein and carbohydrate counts are about the same as regular tomato sauce.
Classico (24oz Jar)
Calories – 300, fat 10 grams, protein 10 grams, carbohydrates 30 grams
Tomato Sauce (8 ounces)
Calories 70, fat 0 grams, protein 3 grams, carbohydrates 10.5 grams
Tomato Sauce (24 ounces)
Calories 210, fat 0 grams, protein 9 grams, carbohydrates 31.5 grams
Having said all of that, making your own marina sauce is usually cheaper (especially if you buy tomato sauce on sale, and in bulk) and you can eliminate or reduce the number of preservatives in your families meal buy making your own. If you want to make your own pasta/marinara sauce, then check out my article 'Mastering Marinara: One Sauce To Rule Them All' on our blog.
Meatless Keto Lasagna
If you want you could go all vegetable with this recipe by omitting the ground beef, using two cups of ricotta, two eggs, and small container (10 ounces) of frozen spinach (thawed). I may write another article on making my spinach lasagna with fresh ingredients, but this is a quick way to make this recipe meatless, just in case you need too. Thaw and rinse the frozen spinach and squeeze with your hands to remove as much moisture as possible. Then add the spinach to the ricotta mixture and follow the directions as listed previously in this article.
Spinach Keto Lasagna (about 50 ounces, 6 servings)
Total Recipe – Calories 1740, fat 115.6 grams, protein 96 grams, carbohydrates 58 grams
Per Serving – Calories 290, fat 19.2 grams, protein 16 grams, carbohydrates 9.6 grams
This meatless lasagna actually contains less good fat, protein, and more carbohydrates than the regular keto lasagna made with ground beef, however the carbohydrate count is still less than 10 grams per serving. It should be noted that the extra carbohydrates come from the additional cup of ricotta cheese (8 grams of carbohydrates per cup), that is used to replace the ground beef as a protein source.
Fresh Or Frozen
This recipe can be made fresh as in this article, or you can make it in a foil pan and freeze it for another day. If you wish to freeze the uncooked lasagna, make it in a foil pan and place in the freezer overnight. Then, after 4 hours, or the next day place a thin sheet of plastic wrap over the surface of the lasagna and cover with foil.
To cook the frozen lasagna, pre-heat your oven to 400 degrees, remove the plastic wrap and replace the foil. Then place the frozen lasagna on baking sheet and bake for approximately 2 hours or until the sauce is bubbling and the cheese is melted. Be careful when removing the foil to check the lasagna as you can easily get burned by steam when removing the foil covering.
There you have it, a quick, easy, and tasty lasagna made with zoodles (zucchini noodles) cut on a mandolin slicer. This is an easy dish to make and either freeze for later and or bake and serve right away. The leftovers freeze and reheat well which is especially nice when you are on a budget. We freeze, then vacuum seal leftovers for me to take to work and they always taste fantastic.
So if you and you family are lasagna fans and have missing one of your favorite dishes since you have started the LCHF / Keto WOE, then I am sure you will enjoy this recipe. As always we ask that if you find the information in this article informative and enjoyable that you share it with your friends family. Don't forget to send us a friend request on our Facebook page 'CulinaryyouLCHF' by clicking on the link, or add us to your circle on Google+ Culinary You.
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