One of our littlest chefs decided to become a vegetarian. We made a counter-offer and started making vegetarian meals one night a week (sometimes more) and began increasing the volume of our non-meat sides on the rest of the nights. This recipe is now a favorite in the Dining Downloads kitchen among our vegetarian AND our non-vegetarians! It is a little bit of work, but well worth the effort!
2 large zucchini, sliced lengthwise (use a mandolin to make sure the slices are even and thin)
salt and pepper to taste
1 diced small green bell pepper
1 diced large onion
1 tsp minced garlic, divided
2 TBSP canola oil (verify it is GF if needed)
16-18oz tomato paste (tested with Hunt’s brand)
16oz can tomato sauce (tested with Hunt’s brand)
1/4 cup red wine (We use Cabernet Sauvignon)
1 tsp dried italian seasoning (tested with McCormick brand)
1 large egg
15oz package low-fat ricotta cheese (tested with Sorrento brand)
16oz package frozen chopped spinach, thawed and squeezed completely dry in a kitchen towel
1 pound sliced, fresh mushrooms
8 ounces shredded part-skim mozzarella cheese (tested with Sorrento, shredded ourselves)
8 ounces fresh grated Parmesan cheese
Sprinkle zucchini slices with salt and put in a colander to drain for about 10-15 minutes.. This will help the water within the zucchini leech out.
In a large saucepan over medium to medium high heat, saute green pepper, onion and half the garlic in oil for 5-10 minutes. Season with salt and pepper. Stir in tomato paste, tomato sauce, wine, italian seasoning, rest of the garlic, a pinch of salt and a few cracks of fresh pepper. Reduce heat to low and simmer sauce for about 20 minutes, stirring frequently.
Stir egg, ricotta, salt and pepper together in a bowl until well blended.
Press zucchini between paper or kitchen towels to get as most of the moisture out you can. we lightly use a rolling pin when the zucchini is in the towels.
Layer in this order in an 8×8 baking dish: Spread 1/2 of the red wine tomato sauce into the bottom of prepared pan. Add 1/2 the zucchini slices in an even layer, then spread 1/2 the ricotta mixture, all of the spinach, followed by all of the mushrooms, and 1/2 the mozzarella cheese. Repeat with the remaining red wine tomato sauce, zucchini slices, ricotta mixture, and mozzarella. Spread Parmesan cheese evenly over the top and cover with foil.
Bake for 40 minutes at 350 degrees F. Remove foil and bake an additional 15 minutes. Let stand for 5 minutes before serving
ALTERNATIVELY, you can separate each serving into 4-6 individual mini loaf pans before baking. Reduce the covered baking time to 25 minutes.
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