Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Low- Carb Lasagna

Pasta is totally an example of those things you miss when you're watching your carbs.  This is a clever way to eat more veggies and still enjoy the comfort food you crave.  If you're not watching your carbs, just follow the same recipe and substitute the the zucchini noodles for lasagna. When I make the traditional lasagna, I soak the noodles in hot water until it's time to assemble so they're pliable. No need to cook them through because they'll cook in the oven.  Just be sure to be generous with the sauce if you do it this way.

ground chicken (2.5 lbs)
4 garlic cloves
1 large onion
2 tbsp. fresh parsley (finely chopped)
1 tsp. dried oregano
1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese
1/3 cup unflavored whey protein powder
3 eggs
1 cup ricotta cheese
2 cups shredded mozzarella cheese
1 can tomato sauce
1 can tomato paste
2 cups chicken stock
2 large zucchinis
3 tbsp. olive oil
1/3 tsp. nutmeg, grated
salt and pepper to taste

The first thing to do, is pre-heat the oven to 350 degrees.  Next remove the ground chicken from the package and put in a mixing bowl.  Grate 3 large garlic cloves into the bowl.  Now take your onion and remove the skin.  Cut it in half and grate the half into the bowl.  Reserve the other half for the tomato sauce.  Crack one egg into the bowl and combine.  Add the Parmesan cheese and whey powder to the bowl (this will sub as the bread crumbs in the traditional recipe).  Add a little salt, but go easy because the cheese is salty.  Next throw in a pinch of the oregano and one tbsp. of the fresh parsley.  If you like you can also add a little basil.  I left it out this time though.   Combine all of the ingredients well and add a little olive oil to a skillet.  Once it gets hot, add the ground chicken and begin cooking through.

While the chicken is browning, you can begin slicing the zucchini.  I used a mandolin to get even slices.  The trick is to slice them lengthwise so that they resemble lasagna noodles.  Set aside until you're ready to assemble the lasagna.

I am not a big fan of ricotta in lasagna because I find that it can be kind of gritty instead of creamy and smooth.  I found a way to help remedy this issue.  I put the ricotta into a food processor and let it run on high for about 1 minute.  Next I crack the eggs in and turn on the processor again.  I transfer this mixture to a mixing bowl.  Add the nutmeg and 3/4 cup of the mozzarella cheese and incorporate well.

The last step before we begin the assembly of the lasagna is to make the sauce.  If you're not up to making the sauce from scratch, you can use a bottled one.  I LOVE Emeril's "Roasted Gaaahlic" sauce. Any who to make the sauce, just dice up the onion and grate the garlic.  Sauté in olive oil and add the tomato sauce and tomato paste.  Add the chicken stock and combine well.  Add the spices and allow for the sauce to simmer until the consistency is to your liking.

Now to assemble the lasagna.  Add a ladle full of sauce to the bottom of the lasagna pan and spread evenly.  Lay down the first layer of zucchini noodles.  Next top with the ground chicken.  After that add the ricotta mixture and spread. I find a spatula or butter knife works well for this.  Take another ladle full of sauce and spoon over the top. Lastly add some mozzarella cheese.  Repeat this process till you get to the top of the pan.  Top with mozzarella and bake until the cheese is bubbly- about 30 minutes.

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