Meatless Monday: Zucchini Lasagna

I had a surprising amount of child-free time over the weekend, and I spent most of it cooking. And it was enjoyable. Cooking — really creating meals, and not just throwing stuff together — is something I love to do.

As is exploring new recipes.

I put out a plea on Twitter one day for zucchini recipes as I am getting two a week from my CSA. I got several suggestions and links. This one comes courtesy of the incomparable @MrsCrappy and the equally lovely @pgha.

The original recipe:

2 cups cottage cheese
1 cup cooked, chopped spinach
1 pound mozzarella cheese, grated
1 1/2 pounds ground beef
1 small onion, chopped
8-ounce can tomato sauce
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon pepper
1/2 teaspoon oregano
1/2 teaspoon thyme
2 1/2 pounds zucchini, thinly sliced lengthwise

I had never seen cottage cheese used in lasagna before, and the measurements seemed a little weird to me (i.e. pounds instead of cups), so I switched some stuff up.

15 oz. container of ricotta cheese
1 cup cooked, chopped spinach [I steamed fresh spinach, but you could probably use a 10 oz. container of frozen spinach, thawed and with the moisture squeezed out]
2 cups grated mozzarella cheese
Olive oil
4 or 5 cloves garlic
1 package soy crumbles
1 cup (8 oz.) tomato sauce
Dried Italian herbs (oregano, basil) to taste
1/8 tsp. chili pepper
2 zucchini, thinly sliced lengthwise

Combine ricotta cheese, spinach, and half the mozzarella in a bowl. Saute garlic in olive oil and brown soy crumbles. Add tomato sauce and spices to crumbles. Simmer for 5 minutes. [I have to add here: I had some of my homemade marinara sauce on hand for this, and it worked perfectly.]

In a greased 9-by-13-inch casserole dish, layer half the meat mixture, half the zucchini, all of the spinach-cheese mixture, the rest of the zucchini, the rest of the meat and top with the remaining 1 cup of mozzarella. Cover and bake at 350 degrees for 30 minutes. Uncover and bake for another 45 minutes.

Another note: If I new how to use my mandoline, I would have used it to slice the zucchini. Or if Dan had been home I would have asked him to use the mandoline for me. I think it would have made the zucchini slices more uniform. Not that it mattered one whit for the taste, but still. It would have looked pretty.

I put this dish together on Saturday morning, and brought it to a graduation party. We baked it around 4 p.m.

And I gotta tell you: It’s excellent. Everyone raved about it. I’ll be passing this recipe on to a few family members. It’s easy and super tasty.

The recipe I got said it served 6, but that’s crazy talk. Even Mrs. Crappy pointed out it would only serve six if everyone filled their plates with only the lasagna. My dish served at least 12 people, with leftovers for lunch for me for two days. It would make an excellent dinner with crusty bread and a big green salad.