So that settles it.
This vegetable-loaded, sweet, creamy, spicy Sausage Zucchini Sweet Potato Lasagna is the only dinner I’m making for the rest of 2014. It’s simple, seriously yummy (who knew sweet potato sauce could make a certain food blogger lick the inside of the blender while happy-jigging around the tiny kitchen?), and comfort food-esque while also being healthy because somma that ZUCCHINI up in there.
I’ll just go ahead and call myself out on posting two zucchini recipes in a row this week. I know it. I’m almost going to apologize about it to you, my wonderful and hopefully zucchini-loving readers, except that both of these recipes = my life right now and I seriously think you are going to lovey-love them. Can we still be friends?
I made this dish-o-joy twice – once at the peacefully quiet cabin for my family, and once at our house for Bjork and I on the day that the concrete guys were here to basically destroy our messy jungle of a yard in preparation for laying a new not saggy and not crooked sidewalk. Such a good idea, because nothing says Awesome Lasagna Cooking Experience like a team of men taking to your sidewalk with jackhammers right. next. to. your rattling kitchen window as you tenderly layer slices of zucchini with creamy sweet potato sauce and spicy sausage.
I tried to get into some kind of zen lasagna-creating state of mind with lasagna meditation and calming self talk, and even though I could hear zero percent of my podcast, I kept just turning the volume up up up and pretending any ounce of sound was going into my brain. Which maybe didn’t help the zen state of mind thing, and possibly explains the neighbors peeking out their windows with binoculars to see what in the name of Sweet Potato Zucchini Lasagna was going on over here.
Then we followed up the Demolished Yard and Permanently Ringing Ears Day by going to the annual National Night Out picnic/potluck/grill + mingle for our sweet little Yum Sweet Home neighborhood (which I could not love more – thank you, neighbors, for being wonderful and just be warned that we might try to live here forever) and we proceeded to introduce ourselves to a few neighbors that we hadn’t met. –> Which house do you live in? Ohh, THAT one. I was wondering what all that racket was about this afternoon.
Yes, that’s the one, friends. I think that’s called memorable first impression. Or something.
Food time! Here’s how it’s done:
This lil’ ol’ lasagna is going to give you a choice —> whole wheat lasagna noodles OR zucchini noodles. You can go light-and-healthy-veggie or chewy-carb-loaded or both! Either works – I’ve made it both ways, and although the zucchini noodles only version was initially hot soup thanks to my HUNGRY GIRL inability to let it rest and set before slicing, when I went back to the pan a little while later for thirds, I was happy to see that the slices held together enough to make it actually count as lasagna. *fist bump* That being said, whole wheat lasagna noodles will really make this thing hold (in addition to being yumyumyum), so that would be your best bet if you need it to turn out more like a slice and less like an deliciously overwhelming creamy, gooey cheese bomb on a plate.
Regardless of what you choose for your noodles, this thing is getting topped with ancho chili and cumin spiced sausage, mild Mozzarella cheese, fresh green onions and cilantro, and the most luscious sweet potato sauce. Hello beautiful.
So today when they come back to pour the concrete, I will be ready to watch calmly, sitting at the window with a large slice of this Sausage and Sweet Potato Zucchini Lasagna wonderfulness, enjoying it one beautiful bite at a time while daydreaming about what our yard will be like when it’s done being a dirt bomb zone. That won’t creep them out, I’m sure.
Also, now taking zucchini donations.
- 3 large zucchini
- 1 lb. ground pork
- 2 large sweet potatoes (4-5 cups when cooked and cut)
- 1 cup milk
- ½ cup chicken broth
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- 5 cloves garlic
- 2 teaspoons ancho chili powder (in the spice aisle)
- 2 teaspoons ground cumin
- 1½ teaspoons salt
- ½ cup chopped cilantro
- ½ cup chopped green onions
- 2 cups shredded Mozzarella or Provolone cheese
- Cut the zucchini into thin strips lengthwise. I did this without any special peeler - just a knife (see picture in post). Lay them on paper towels and sprinkle with salt. Let rest while you prep the other ingredients - the excess moisture will seep out of them and you can press them with paper towels when they're ready. While the zucchini is resting, in a large skillet, brown the ground pork with 3 cloves minced garlic, 1 teaspoon ancho chili powder, 1 teaspoon cumin, and ½ teaspoon salt. Set aside.
- Meanwhile, wash the sweet potatoes, poke with a fork several times, wrap once in a paper towel, and microwave for 5-7 minutes or until soft. You can also bake them in the oven if you prefer. Cut into chunks, transfer to a blender, and puree with the milk, chicken broth, olive oil, 2 garlic cloves, 1 teaspoon ancho chili powder, 1 teaspoon cumin, and 1 teaspoon salt until smooth and creamy.
- Preheat the oven to 375 degrees. Spray a 9x13 baking dish with nonstick cooking spray. Layer the zucchini noodles, sauce, sausage, chopped cilantro and green onions, and cheese; repeat layers three times. End with a final layer of zucchini noodles covered with a little sauce and cheese. Cover with greased foil so the cheese won't stick and bake for 30-45 minutes. Remove from the oven and let stand for at least 15-20 minutes. This does not cut into perfectly clean squares, especially if you cut into it before it has time to cool and set a little bit (which I did - SO HUNGRY). For a cleaner cut slice, see notes about using regular lasagna noodles.
For a more traditional lasagna (and one that holds together a little easier) you can also use cooked whole wheat lasagna noodles in place of or in addition to the zucchini. If you do this, you'll need to add a little more chicken broth to the sweet potato sauce to help the lasagna stay moist. The noodles soak up excess liquid whereas the zucchini noodles *add* liquid. I've made it both ways with delicious results - just a different texture and slice-ability.