The meal I am sharing with you today has changed the way I think about cooking with less carbs. A while back I participated in Medi-Fast, and it was pretty much a carb-free form of dieting. It was successful for me and many members in my family, but eventually got too expensive to continue long-term. What I took away from the experience (other than a glorious love of fresh food) was that I really can cook delicious meals for my family that are both healthy and aren’t loaded with carbohydrates. It really taught me a new way to think about food. I watched as it enlightened many others in my family and has been hugely beneficial to their health.
I am no longer staying strictly on the carb-free diet, but I have cut way back on my carb intake. As I think back on the 4 months that I was cooking strictly low-carb, there were several meals that were surprisingly lovely, and something I will continue to cook for my family. My Veggie Loaded Turkey Lasagna was one of the best! Its super low-carb but is mighty filling. The flavor is awesome! Everyone who has tried it has loved it. I was inspired to concoct this meal from Sandy’s Kitchen who has her own rendition of veggie lasagna that sticks strictly within the MediFast parameters. I changed her recipe significantly to accommodate my tastes and it turned out to be a big win!
I have been craving this gorgeous italian meal and realized I never shared it with you fine folks! Shame, shame. I apologize. What better time to do so than at 6:00 AM on vacation while listening to the ocean waves?
In this version of lasagna I used lean ground turkey. One thing I have learned about cooking with ground turkey is that it tastes WAY better if you caramelize it al little. Don’t just cook it till it’s not pink anymore. You want to season it well and continue cooking it until it gets quite browned on the outside. It enhances the flavor significantly. The second little tip would be seasoning it to taste like italian sausage! I used shallots, garlic, salt, pepper, fennel, italian seasoning blend and a little crushed red pepper.
One of the key ingredients is spaghetti squash. I have tried cooking it so many different ways, and the best way yet has been in the microwave (gasp) with the squash cut in half, face down in a half inch or so of water. One thing that is super important to the flavor of the squash is to scoop out all the seeds before cooking it. If you leave them in, it lends a very musty flavor to the squash (not delicious). It’s still edible, but just more slimy in texture and flavor. It is also a lot harder to remove the seeds and stringy pulp once you have cooked it. So there’s a little tipsy for ya!
I kept the sauce really simple, using canned San Marzano tomatoes as the base. They are super flavorful.
Once you have all your ingredients cooked and prepped it is super easy to layer this deep 9×9 baking dish! Bada bing! Layer, layer, layer and you are done! I like the order I put them together, but you could switch it up and I’m sure it would be just as yummy! Check out all the pretty ingredients…
This first layer has spaghetti squash topped with the cheese ricotta, mozzarella, egg and seasoning blend.
Next up came a layer of caramelized italian ground turkey topped with crushed San Marzano tomatoes, grape tomatoes and seasonings.
I topped that goodness off with a layer of thick sliced zucchini (using a mandolin).
On top of that I layered some more spaghetti squash, then another layer of zucchini noodles.
On top of the zucchini I layered the rest of the cheese, egg and seasoning blend. Then added the rest of the ground turkey. On the top layer I used more crushed tomatoes and some grape tomatoes. Then I sprinkled some extra mozzarella cheese and seasoned it with salt, pepper and Italian seasoning blend.
Isn’t it pretty? It tastes just as good…. I sure hope you get a chance to whip up a batch of this deliciousness!
Here is the detailed recipe with instructions:
- For Italian Ground Turkey:
- 1-tablespoon olive oil
- 2 shallots, diced
- 1 teaspoon minced garlic
- 1 pound lean ground turkey
- Salt and pepper
- ½ teaspoon ground fennel
- 1 teaspoon Italian seasoning blend
- ¼ teaspoon red pepper flakes (or less depending on how spicy you like it)
- For Lasagna:
- 4 cups cooked spaghetti squash
- 2 small zucchini sliced lengthwise on a mandolin (into lasagna noodles)
- 1-cup low fat ricotta cheese
- 1-cup low fat shredded mozzarella cheese
- 1 egg
- 2 cups crushed tomatoes
- ½ teaspoon Italian seasoning blend
- Salt and pepper
- 1-cup grape tomatoes, halved
- Preheat oven to 400 degrees.
- In a large skillet heat olive oil over medium-high. Add diced shallots and minced garlic. Sauté for 3 minutes. Add ground turkey, salt, pepper, ground fennel, crushed red pepper and Italian seasoning. Brown until turkey begins to caramelize a little on the outside (about 15 minutes). Remove from heat and set aside.
- Slice spaghetti squash in half lengthwise and remove seeds and stringy pulp. Place ½ of the spaghetti squash cut side down on a large microwavable plate in ½ inch of water. Microwave for 10-12 minutes. Repeat with other half of spaghetti squash. Use 2 forks to fluff spaghetti squash and remove from skin.
- Slice stem from zucchini. Slice zucchini on a mandolin into thick flat lasagna “noodles”.
- In a medium bowl mix together ricotta cheese, mozzarella cheese, egg, Italian seasoning, salt and pepper. Set aside.
- In a deep 9 x 9 baking dish layer lasagna as follows. Add 2 cups spaghetti squash on bottom of baking sheet. Next sprinkle ½ of the browned turkey. Layer ½ of the cheese blend next. Next add 1 cup crushed tomato topped with some cherry tomatoes (halved). Season with Italian seasoning blend, salt and pepper. Lay an even layer of zucchini noodles on top of tomatoes. Add 2 more cups spaghetti squash in the next layer. Top with one more layer of zucchini noodles. Top with the rest of the cheese, then turkey. Add one more cup-crushed tomato. Top with cherry tomatoes. Sprinkle with a little extra shredded mozzarella cheese. Season with salt, pepper and Italian seasoning blend.
- Press lasagna casserole down evenly. Place in oven on center rack. Place a baking sheet on the lower rack to catch any drippings if it bubbles over a little.
- Bake for 25 minutes. Remove from oven and allow to cool for 5 minutes before serving.
- Sprinkle each serving with a tablespoon of shredded Parmesan cheese!
Thanks for chillin with me today! Let me know how your lasagna making adventure goes!