Monday, August 5, 2013

Gluten Free Lasagna

Ever since I was fifteen I have been put on different diets to try to fix some medical issues. In the last year I have been cutting out gluten which has helped, but as usual my options have become limited. Most restaurants, family recipes, and entire food groups present a problem for me and many others. Because of this, I have been compiling healthy, filling, and delicious recipes that my entire family can enjoy. 

What is Gluten?
I get this question on a regular basis. Gluten actually comes from the Latin word for glue. It is part of the protein that helps dough stick together. It is in wheat, barley, rye, and oats. It also contains protein. 
There are several different types of medical issues related to gluten which are usually divided between sensitivity and allergy. Celiac disease is one of these medical issues that is relatively well known. Those who have this or other brands of gluten intolerance can not even eat food that has been cross contaminated. It can make someone a little paranoid. 

  • 1 eggplant 
  • 2 zucchini
  • 2 summer squash
  • 1 1/4 pounds Ground Beef
  • 2 bell peppers
  • 2 cups mushrooms
  • 2 (14.5 ounce) cans diced tomatoes or 4 cups of chopped fresh tomatoes
  • 1 cup tomato sauce
  • 1/2 cup basil, chopped
  • 1 teaspoon oregano
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon black pepper
  • 1 container (15 oz) whole milk ricotta cheese
  • 2 cups shredded mozzarella cheese
  • 1/4 cup Parmesan cheese

  1. Preheat oven to 375 F. Peel off and feed to chickens thin slice from sides of eggplant. Cut eggplant, zucchini, and summer squash crosswise into thin (1/8 - 1/4 inch) slices; set aside. 
I find the best way to do this is by using a long serrated knife like a bread knife and start by slicing through the middle. This give you an even flat surface to work with. This is a great midsummer recipe, but we are still harvesting the last of our zucchini so we get to enjoy it into November. 

2. Heat large skillet over medium high heat. Add ground beef; cook 8-10 minutes or until cooked through, stirring occasionally to break up meat. remove from skillet; drain fat.
         This is the best time to get your layering station set up with the grated cheeses, a spatula, and  enough room to maneuver your meat sauce pan. 

3. Add bell peppers and mushrooms to skillet; cook and stir 3-4 minutes or until vegetables are tender. Return sausage to skillet. Add tomatoes, tomato sauce, spices, and herbs; cook and stir over medium- heat 1 to 2 minutes or until heated through.
        The first time I made this I used cubanelle peppers which gave the dish a little more zing. Early in the bell pepper season my boss sent me home with two bushels of cosmetically challenged bell peppers, so I chopped them up and froze them. Bell peppers are a more dry vegetable, so even when they are frozen they break apart from a block of peppers easily. 

4. Layer one third of eggplant, zucchini and summer squash in 13x9 inch pan. Spread half of ricotta cheese over vegetables and the mozzarella . Top with one third of tomato sauce mixture. Repeat layers once ending with final layer of vegetables and tomato sauce mixture. Sprinkle with Parmesan cheese; cover pan with foil.

      Ricotta cheese is a little tricky. It is very wet, so put a little olive oil on your fingers to help you spread it out evenly over the veggies. Fortunately it melts, so even if you don’t get cheese everywhere, the oven will fix it. 

5. Bake 45 minutes. Remove foil; bake, uncovered, 10- 15 minutes or until vegetables are tender. Cool 10 minutes before cutting.

There will be a lot of residual liquid, so just make sure you don’t lose a layer of goodness at the bottom of your pan. Serve and enjoy!


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