No-Noodle Zucchini Lasagna

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No-Noodle Zucchini LasagnaHave you ever grown a zucchini plant? One year, my genius father decided it would be great to put three of them in the backyard. We had zucchini coming out of our ears all summer. We roasted it with tomatoes. We baked it in bread. We gave it to neighbors. We whittled it into art projects. And still, it kept coming. This casserole was one of the innovations of that summer. Unlike my art projects, it was good enough that we kept it around, even in subsequent summers when we were smart enough to leave the squash growing to the professionals.

  • Yield: 4 to 6 Servings
  • Total Time: 2 Hours 30 Minutes


  • 2 Tbsp extra-virgin olive oil, divided
  • 1 large onion, diced
  • 1½ tsp salt, divided
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 lb ground beef
  • 1 cup mushrooms, thinly sliced
  • ¾ cup red wine
  • 1 15-oz can pureed tomatoes
  • ½ cup water
  • 1 6-oz can tomato paste
  • 1½ tsp dried basil
  • ½ tsp dried thyme
  • ½ tsp dried oregano
  • ½ tsp ground black pepper
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 5 medium zucchini (about 2 lb), cut into ⅛ inch-thick
  • strips
  • 12 oz ricotta cheese
  • 12 oz mozzarella cheese, shredded
  • 1 cup Parmesan cheese, shredded or grated
How to Make It
  1. To make the sauce, place a skillet over medium heat. Add 1 tablespoon of the olive oil. When the oil begins to shimmer, add the onion and 1 teaspoon salt and sauté 6–8 minutes, or until translucent. Add the garlic and cook until fragrant, about 30 seconds. Add the beef and mushrooms and sauté until the meat is browned, about 6-8 minutes. Add the wine and scrape the bottom of the pan to free the browned bits.
  2. Once the wine has bubbled for a minute, add the tomatoes, water, tomato paste, basil, thyme, oregano, pepper, and bay leaf. Reduce the heat to low and simmer, uncovered, for 30-45minutes—the longer it cooks, the better it will taste.
  3. While the sauce cooks, preheat the oven to 375°F. When the sauce is done, remove the bay leaf.
  4. Prepare a baking dish by coating it with the remaining 1 tablespoon of olive oil. Using a third of the zucchini, create a layer of overlapping slices to cover the bottom of the baking dish. Use a third of the ricotta to spread dollops across the layer of zucchini. Use a third of the mozzarella to sprinkle a layer across the ricotta. Top the cheese with a third of the meat sauce. Repeat this twice more: zucchini, ricotta, mozzarella, meat sauce. Top with Parmesan cheese.
  5. Transfer the baking dish to the oven and bake for 45-50 minutes, or until top is beginning to brown. Remove the lasagna from the oven and allow it to rest for 15 minutes before serving up heaping blocks of cheesy goodness.

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