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"Exploring the Health Benefits of Zucchini Noodles in Lasagna with Turkey, Ricotta, and Pesto"

Updated: Feb 13

Zucchini are a versatile mild flavored vegetable that pair well with a variety of foods and there are many ingenious ways of using them. In this recipe long slices of zucchini are substituted for lasagna noodles and baked in Convection to create a flavor packed lasagna. The baked zucchini slices are then layered with a meat sauce made with ground turkey a combination of cheeses including ricotta and a layer of basil pesto.

Zucchini Noodles for Lasagna with Turkey, Ricotta and Pesto baked in a convection oven

Preparing the individual components for a lasagna then assembling them does take some time, but I have never heard anyone say they didn’t enjoy eating a lasagna so the effort is definitely worth the time. The great thing about lasagna is that you can easily portion it into several smaller containers for freezing or make one large container.

There are several benefits to substituting zucchini for lasagna noodles. For some people, being able to enjoy a lasagna without the added starch is an important consideration. Another reason is to maximize the nutritional benefit of a dish by including an abundance of vegetables.

Another important reason is to expand your repertoire of frequently cooked recipes. Once you have mastered making a traditional lasagna, adding some variations will add interest to your family menus and keep your taste buds interested.

And of course it’s just one more way that you can make good use of your Convection oven to simplify the preparation of a lasagna

Orchestrating the Preparation of a Zucchini Lasagna

When preparing a recipe such as lasagna with several components that need to be prepared separately, it’s important to have a cooking plan before you begin. Having a plan makes it easier to orchestrate the cooking and helps keep the kitchen organized; in the long run the more organized you are the less stressful cooking feels.

Since the meat sauce takes approximately 40 minutes to cook, it’s a good idea to begin with making the sauce. Very little prep is required; first the meat is browned then set aside then the vegetables for the sauce are cooked, and the tomatoes and meat are added back to the pan and cooked at a gentle simmer. Once the sauce is simmering you can turn your attention to preparing and baking the zucchini.

Using Convection to bake the zucchini slices allows you to cook two or three trays of zucchini in the oven at one time, and there will be no boiling water to deal with or having to separate the noodles once they have cooked. Once the zucchini are in the oven your hands are free to assemble the cheeses and other ingredients required for the final assembly of the lasagna.

Best Convection Mode for Baking the Zucchini Noodles and Lasagna

Either the Convection Bake or Convection Roast mode can be used to bake several racks of the sliced zucchini. Be sure to arrange the oven racks before heating the oven and follow the manufacturer's recommendations for best rack positions. Typically placing one rack in the lower third of the oven and one in the upper third is the best placement.

In the Convection Bake and Convection Roast modes the top and bottom heating elements are engaged and the Convection fan circulates the heated air around the oven. Not only will all the zucchini cook through evenly they will brown well without drying out.

Lasagna just baked and ready to serve
Lasagna just baked

Once the lasagna is assembled and ready for baking it should be covered, unless you are baking it in a Steam oven in which case covering it is not necessary. Convection Bake is the ideal mode for baking the lasagna and the best rack placement is in the middle of the oven. Once the lasagna has cooked for approximately 30 minutes remove the foil for the final 10 minutes of cooking time so that the top heating elements can add a touch of gentle browning while melting the cheese.

Remember once the delicious lasagna comes out of the oven you will need to let it rest for 10 - 15 minutes before enjoying it but it’s well worth the wait. If you are interested in in savory pizza style pancake that uses no flour then check out my next post for Soca (baked chickpea pancake) with greens, for another easy delicious Convection recipe.

Larissa, Your Convection Enthusiast

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