Zucchini Lasagna

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      Zucchini Lasagna

      1 1/2 pounds zucchini
      1/2 tsp salt
      2 tbs olive oil
      1 onion, finely chopped
      1 red bell pepper, finely chopped
      8 oz spinach, frozen and chopped
      1 lb ground beef
      1 lb ricotta cheese
      2 eggs
      1/2 cup basil, chopped fresh or parsley
      2 cups pasta sauce, tomato-based, use any variety with no sugar
      8 oz mozzarella cheese, low sodium, shredded
      1/2 cup Parmesan cheese, fresh, shredded

      Prepare the Zucchini Noodles

      1. Slice the zucchini into strips, length-wise. The strips should be about 1/8-inch thick. A mandolin-type slicer works best. Discard any pieces that are mostly peel.
      2. Put the zucchini strips into a colander and sprinkle them with salt. Toss together to coat.
      3. After 10 to 15 min, toss the strips again so that the brine will evenly coat the strips. Drain for at least 1 hour.
      4. Spread the zucchini strips on a paper towel or a cotton tea towel to absorb most of the surface liquid.
      5. Make the Sauce and Filling
      6. Heat olive oil in a skillet over medium-high heat.
      7. Add the onion, bell pepper, and spinach. Cook until the onions are transparent, but before the bell peppers brown, about 3 to 5 min.
      8. If making this without meat, move on to the next step. Otherwise, add the ground beef to the skillet. Be sure to break up the ground meat into crumbles with a spatula or wooden spoon as it cooks. Stir occasionally and cook until the meat is brown. Drain and set aside.
      9. Combine the ricotta, eggs, and basil or parsley in a separate bowl.

      Lasagna Assembly

      1. Put 1/2 cup of the pasta sauce into the bottom of a 9×13-inch pan.
      2. Combine the remaining sauce with the drained vegetable and ground beef mixture (or just vegetables if not using beef). Set aside.
      3. Cover the sauce in the pan with a layer of zucchini strips. Then cover the zucchini with about 1/3 of the ricotta mixture, 1/3 of the sauce mixture, and 1/3 of the mozzarella cheese.
      4. For the second layer, arrange the zucchini strips in the other direction, perpendicular to the first layer. Repeat with ricotta, sauce, and mozzarella.
      5. Alternate direction of zucchini again for the third layer, and finish with remaining ricotta, sauce, and mozzarella. Sprinkle with the Parmesan cheese.
      6. Bake the lasagna until the cheese is golden brown, about 30 min.
      7. Remove from the oven and let stand for 5 to 15 min. This will allow the lasagna to cool just enough to ensure cutting and serving is easier and less messy.  Serves 8


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