Thursday, July 19, 2012

Zucchini Quinoa Lasagna

A staple of my diet is quinoa.  Quinoa is technically a seed, but in most dishes is used as if it is a grain.  Here is a favorite quinoa recipe of mine to use with leftover pasta sauce and fresh, summer zucchini.

Zucchini Quinoa Lasagna
adapted from Peas and Thank You
You'll need:
  • 2 medium-large sized zucchini
  • salt
  • 1 cup quinoa
  • 2 cups water
  • 2 t. vegetable boullion
  • 1/2 cup tomato sauce + 1 cup tomato sauce, separated
  • 1/4 cup chopped onion
  • 1 t dried oregano
  • 1 t dried parsley
  • 1 t dried basil
  • 2 T light organic cream cheese (aka "Neufchatel" cheese by some brands)
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • 1/4 cup Parmesan cheese
Preheat oven to 400.  

First you'll make zucchini "noodles."  You do this by first slicing off the ends of each zucchini, so that you can stand it up on a flat base.  Then slice the zucchini lengthwise to make quarter-inch strips.  These are your lasagna "noodles."  You'll want 12 noodles total, but if you can't cut perfect strips like me, you just need enough pieces to create 3 layers in an 8x8 baking dish. 

Zucchini can make anything it's cooked with a little soggy because it has a high water content.  To solve this problem, you can lay your strips on top of a paper towel in a colander in a single layer and sprinkle with salt.  Continue to stack layers between paper towels, salting each layer as you go and set aside to absorb moisture.

Combine quinoa, water, bouillon, 1/2 cup tomato sauce, and spices in a pot and bring to a boil.  Turn heat down to low, cover, and let simmer for 15 minutes or until all liquid is absorbed.

Fold cream cheese into quinoa mixture and add salt and pepper to taste.

Spread a spoonful of the remaining tomato sauce into the bottom of your baking dish.  Layer 4 "noodles" across the bottom of the dish.  Add a layer of quinoa mixture to the zucchini, follow by 1/3 cup of tomato sauce.  Repeat these layers.  Finish the top layer with the remaining zucchini and sauce.

Bake in oven for 30 minutes, adding the cheese to the top after 20 minutes of baking.

Tips for this recipe:
1. I have pretty much stopped using veggie broth unless I definitely need 4 cups and will use the whole package before it expires.  Vegetable bouillon works just as well when added to water and lasts a long time, just take as much as you need from the jar!

2. If you want to use fresh herbs, you need 1/4 cup of each and they should be folded in with the cream cheese instead of added before boiling.

3. The recipe above makes an 8x8 pan of lasagna, which generally gets me 3 days of dinner, by myself.  If you want it to last you 5 days of lunches or dinner, double the recipe and use a 9x13 pan.  This is a great "make-a-batch-for-the-week" dish. 

4. After seeing those of you who follow the blog on the new Veggie Doc facebook page, I know that I have at least one vegan reader out there-- you can sub out the cream cheese for the Tofutti kind and swap the parmesan for Daiya cheese.  This is very vegan friendly!

The Peas and Thank You cookbook giveaway is still going on, until tomorrow at 5 pm.  Remember, leave a comment on The Veggie Doc facebook page to have a chance to win!

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