Thursday, August 18, 2011


Yes, zukesagna. It's the fancy name I made up (and I guess I made it up because when I Google it I come up with nothing) for making lasagna and using slices of zucchini in place of lasagna.

Yes, fancy. Zukesagna! It's so fun to say I can hardly stop saying it.

So, since at least one Facebook friend (shout out to Livvy!) asked for a recipe, I figured I'd just blog it and then I could say that I'd actually done a blog post, since it's been a month or two or three of Sundays since I'd done one.

My dear friend, Stephanie, had a shit ton (I love that expression) of zucchini in her garden, and I was lucky enough to benefit from her bounty. I started with one that was ginormous. There's no other way to describe it. If I remember correctly, it weighed in at 3 pounds. I really like my new digital food scale and will probably mention it again before this post is done.

I peeled that big mofo and sliced it up. I wasn't sure how thin to slice it; the slices were thicker than lasagna noodles and of course they weren't uniform or anything because it's not as if I actually have any knife skills. Frankly, after slicing that zuke and an onion last night it's amazing that I have no wounds as a result. When I was done I had in the neighborhood of 5 1/2 cups. Anyway, after I sliced it I threw it in the oven at 350 degrees for about 25 minutes. I used two pans, and the slices were overlapping, but I didn't really care. I was hoping to dry it out a little bit, and I'm not even sure if that did anything to that end, because it's not like I'm Alton Brown here, I'm no food scientist or anything.

I read a blip somewhere that you could salt up the zucchini and let it drain, I imagine a process similar to what I do with eggplant (I slice it, salt it, stack it, then put heavy stuff on top of the stack to help drain the bitter juices, then rinse it and dry it and it's ready to go). Just saying, I'm not sure you need to throw the zucchini in the oven at all, but you might want to address the high water content, because when my stuff was all done, it was a little watery, however, it did not take away from its deliciousness. That being said, I will certainly address that issue in a different manner next time and see what happens. Before I used it in the dish I did pat it dry a bit, but still, I'd love for it to be even a little drier next time.

After I dealt with the zucchini, I made my sauce. Well, if you've read this blog before you know I don't "make" sauce. I take jarred sauce and maybe add some stuff and voila, you've got sauce. So in this instance, I squeezed some chicken Sicilian sausage from Trader Joe's out of the casings and browned that up, all the while poking at it so it was nice and crumbly. Then I throw that onto a paper plate lined with paper towels to try to drain some of that grease and wipe my pan out, too.

Here comes the hard part: Open two jars of sauce. I know. I didn't mean to throw this wrench into this easy dish but yes, you will need to open up two jars of your favorite sauce. So I used Trader Joe's Puttanesca, by far my favorite jarred sauce of all time. I would have liked to use two jars of that, but I'm all diet-y and junk, so for my second jar I used Classico's Tomato Basil since it literally had like 8 grams of fat less than my Puttanesca. After I feel I've sopped enough grease off of that cooked sausage, I throw that back in the pan with the jarred sauces and let that simmer for a bit. I don't know, like 15 minutes would do just fine. And when I say simmer, I mean it's up higher than that until it sorta starts popping, then I turn it down to simmer, but I want to let all that stuff mingle for at least 15 minutes. I also added some red pepper flakes (I like my sauce a little spicy, just like my men) and some dried mince garlic. So do whatever you like with this step.

While that sauce was simmering I shredded some cheese. I had Monterey Jack and a sharp white cheddar from Trader Joe's, so I used three ounces (exactly, again, I love my food scale) each of those, in addition to using 6 slices each of lite provolone and lite havarti from Trader Joe's. I am calling it "lite" since that's what's on the package and if you try to do it like I did I wouldn't want you to be confused looking for light provolone and finding none. I also sliced up a sweet onion, since I had one and it sounded good.

Now it's time for assembly. I used a 15 x 10-inch glass baking pan. I always do sauce-noodles (zucchini)-cheese-sauce-noodles (zucchini)- cheese-sauce-a little more cheese, or something like that. I threw in sliced onion with the zucchini layers. So on my cheese layers I did my sliced cheese and filled in the gaps with the shredded stuff and then ended with the shredded stuff. I felt like more sauce would have been good, actually, so I will give you this warning that you might want a little more sauce if you use a pan this big and this much zucchini.

I covered it with foil and baked it at 375 degrees for about 45 minutes, then I took the foil off and gave it another 10 minutes... at least I think I did... that was all the way last night but I'm pretty sure that was right.

Of course you're gonna want to let it sit for a minute before you try to cut into that bubbly goodness. I cut mine into 12 pieces, and the breakdown went something like this using the ingredients I did (thank you, 307 calories, 12 carbs, 18 grams fat, 20 grams protein. You can TOTALLY bring the fat and calories down by using different cheese and sauce and omitting the sausage. Frankly, my stuff is totally freaking delicious made just this way, and for me the calorie/fat count was worth it, but next time I will try to get it lower.

So give it a whirl and I hope you enjoy it! If you don't, it's totally not my fault, I'm sure it's something you did or blame it on your oven!