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ZUCCHINI NOODLE LASAGNA WITH MEAT SAUCE AND CHEESY GOODNESS

Ingredients

5 to 6 pounds zucchini

¾ cup olive oil

1 teaspoon salt

1 teaspoon black pepper

2 teaspoon dried basil

2 teaspoon garlic powder

Meat Sauce:

3 tablespoon olive oil

1 large onion, chopped

6 garlic cloves, chopped

1 red bell pepper, chopped

2 pounds ground beef

2 teaspoon salt

1 teaspoon black pepper

2 ½ cups spaghetti sauce (24 ounce)

 

Cheesy Goodness:

1, 8 ounce bar cream cheese, softened

2 cups whole milk ricotta

1 cup cottage cheese

¾ cup shredded parmesan cheese

6 scallions, chopped (about ½ cup)

1 small green pepper, chopped

1 box frozen spinach, thawed and squeezed dry

1 cup panko breadcrumbs

3 cups shredded mozzarella

¾ cups shredded parmesan

Instructions

Preheat oven to 400 degrees.

Cut zucchini lengthwise into ½” thick slices.  If you are working with extra-large zucchinis (10-15” long and very thick), cut the slices in half so they are shorter and easier work with.   Spread the slices on foil-covered cookies sheets in one layer.

Mix the olive oil, salt, pepper, basil, and garlic powder in a small bowl.  Brush this mixture liberally onto both sides of the zucchini slices.  Bake for 20-30 minutes until tender.  Remove from oven and set aside.

To make the meat sauce, heat olive oil in a large skillet with sides and sauté onions, garlic, and red bell peppers until soft and fragrant, about 5 minutes.  Add the ground beef, salt, and black pepper to the pan and cook until the beef is just cooked through, breaking it up with a spatula.  Add the spaghetti sauce, turn off heat and set aside.

To make the ‘cheesy goodness’, combine the cream cheese, ricotta, cottage cheese, parmesan, scallions, green pepper, and spinach in a large bowl and stir to combine.

To assemble the lasagna, spray a 9” x 13” baking dish with non-stick cooking spray.  Spread a layer of the zucchini slices on the bottom of the dish to cover.  Top evenly with ½ cup of the panko, then 1 cup of shredded mozzarella, then have of the cheesy goodness mixture.

Top with another layer of zucchini to cover, then repeat with the other ½ cup of the panko, 1 cup of mozzarella, the rest of the meat sauce, and the remaining cheesy goodness.

Top evenly with any remaining zucchini slices.  Spread last cup of mozzarella over the top along with remaining ¾ cup shredded parmesan.

Bake at 350 for 45 minutes until browned and bubbly.  If you are making this in advance, remove from fridge 30 minutes to 1 hour before baking and increase cook time to about 1 hour to ensure it is heated through.

Let rest for 15-20 minutes before serving.  Cut into squares and serve garnished with basil and grated parmesan cheese.

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