I’m not really on Twitter, so I’m not as familiar or obsessed with Chrissy Teigen as a lot of people are these days. But I obviously know of her, and I had heard lots of good things about her cookbooks. So I was pretty excited when I received her book Cravings for Hanukkah, and I was eager to try one of the recipes. With a chilly, rainy Sunday on the horizon, I settled on her Zucchini “Lasagna” Bolognese, a recipe that required simmering a homemade bolognese sauce, roasting zucchini into noodles then layering and baking a lasagna. That might sound like a lot, but most of it was pretty hands-off and the result was incredibly delicious.
First, this is the recipe. The length of the ingredient list for the sauce might seem intimidating, but it contains a lot of herbs and spices that we already had in the pantry.
Before even starting, I read through the recipe. Again, this wasn’t super intensive but there were a lot of different components. So I decided on a rough time that I wanted it to be ready, then worked backwards to figure out when we needed to start the bolognese sauce and when we needed to start preparing the zucchini. And I am happy to report that we ate only about 15 minutes later than the time in that original plan, which should tell you something about how easy the steps are, even if there are a lot of them.
The first thing that had to get going was the sauce. The mirepoix went into the pot to brown, followed by the herbs. I appreciated that she gave measurements for fresh and dried oregano and thyme, because I’m often doing the conversion from fresh to dried on my own.
Next was the meat. We didn’t follow the recipe exactly here; it called for ground pork, ground beef and a slice of bacon. But Trader Joe’s doesn’t sell ground pork, we didn’t want to buy a whole package for one slice of bacon, and we had a leftover quarter pound of ground beef in the freezer. So we went with a pound and a quarter of ground beef. That went in the pot to brown.
Now, I’ll admit that the next couple photos are not the most appetizing. But it’s a meat sauce, what do you expected? The wine went in, then the milk, then broth, tomatoes and basil. Basil we did buy fresh because I knew that the recipe called for a lot of it, so we would use it all up at once—it actually turned out that the recipe used more than one package.
Once all the sauce ingredients were in the pot, we left it to simmer for a while and turned our attention to the zucchini. I cut the zucchini into long, thin slices, which I learned later in the process I probably could have cut a little thicker. Nonetheless, I laid them out on baking sheets and sprinkled with salt to release some of the water. I was pretty impressed by the amount of water there was to pour off after 30 minutes! Then the zucchini went in the oven to roast. The super dark ones you’ll see below are the ones I probably cut a bit too thin. And this is just one of the sheets.
By this point the sauce should have been all simmered and thick, but it still seemed a little loose and liquidy to me. This may have been because I didn’t chop the veggies and garlic fine enough or I wasn’t simmering it vigorously enough. I also don’t know if bolognese sauces you get in Italian restaurants are partially blended or pulsed in a food processor (this was the first one I had ever made). But we let it simmer for 15 or 20 minutes longer and then it seemed good, so the next step was to build the lasagna! Some sauce went down in the pan first, followed by zucchini, sauce, the ricotta mixture and some cheese. I love how rich ricotta is, so I was very excited for that part.
And then, finally, the lasagna went in the oven! Here’s a before and after:
And then the best part: Eating! This lasagna was so delicious. The meat sauce and the ricotta were so rich that I’m pretty sure real noodles would have made this lasagna too heavy. I’ve been cooking with fresh garlic more and more lately and did so in this recipe; it was the first time I truly understood what a difference fresh makes vs. jarred or dried minced garlic. We also don’t eat a lot of ground beef (we usually make meatballs and the like with ground turkey), so that was super savory and indulgent. And again, despite the fact that the noodles were veggies, this lasagna was super filling. We ate it for dinner twice and each had some for lunch once and those were pretty big portions; it was so good I couldn’t stop eating.
Overall, I was thrilled with how this lasagna came out. It was really fun to make on a lazy Sunday afternoon and it was even more fun to eat. And perhaps the best part is that it was the first recipe I made from the new cookbook, so now I’m even more eager to try more!