I make these bars a lot during zucchini season. The zucchini is like a “surprise ingredient” that fools everybody. They all think it’s apple and don’t believe me when I tell them it’s zucchini. These bars are delicious, and best of all, are so easy to make. My family loves to eat them warm with a scoop of ice cream. Give them a try and see if they don’t surprise you, too.
ZUCCHINI CRUMBLE BARS
For the Filling:
8-10 cups zucchini, peeled, seeded and chopped (about 4-5 lbs.)
½ cup fresh lemon juice
1 cup sugar
1 tsp. vanilla extract
1 tsp. ground cinnamon
½ tsp. ground nutmeg
2 tbsp. cornstarch dissolved in 2-3 tbsp. cold water (this is called a slurry)
In a large saucepan over medium heat, cook zucchini, lemon juice, sugar, vanilla, cinnamon, and nutmeg, stirring occasionally until zucchini is crisp-tender, about 15-20 minutes.
While stirring constantly, pour in slurry (cornstarch water mixture). It is important to keep stirring as the slurry will thicken the mixture very quickly.
Continue to cook and stir, 1-2 minutes more, until mixture is thick and glossy.
Remove from heat and set aside.
For the Crust:
4 cups flour
2 cups sugar
1 tsp. ground cinnamon
1 tsp. salt
2 cups cold butter, cut in cubes
Preheat oven to 375ºF. Grease a 9×13-inch baking pan.
Combine flour, sugar, cinnamon, and salt in a large bowl.
Cut in butter until the mixture resembles coarse crumbs.
Set aside about 3 cups of the crust mixture for topping.
Press remaining crust mixture into bottom of prepared baking pan.
Pour zucchini mixture over crust, spreading evenly to edges.
Crumble remaining crust mixture over zucchini mixture.
Bake for 35-40 minutes or until top crust is golden brown.
My daughter, Spunky, recently went in for some allergy testing at her doctor’s office. The good news is she doesn’t have Celiac Disease, however she does have gluten sensitivity and is allergic to shellfish, wheat, corn, soy, and their by-products, which makes it difficult to find things for her to eat. Seems like there’s wheat, corn, or soy in everything these days! Because of this, I’ve been on the lookout for healthy recipes to try and ingredient substitutions I can make for her.
This recipe is a delicious, healthy take on lasagna that’s lower in carbs and gluten-free because it has no pasta. The lasagna noodles are replaced by thinly sliced zucchini. The recipe seems like it has a lot of ingredients but once you get everything you need prepped, it comes together very easily. The fam loves it and they don’t miss the pasta noodles at all! Best of all, Spunky can eat it! Serve this with a salad and you’ve got one satisfying, healthy meal.
Oh, one other thing, you could prepare the “meat” sauce up to 5 days in advance and just keep it refrigerated until you’re ready to make your lasagna. Doing that speeds up the prep time which is a big help to a harried cook on a busy week night.
LOW-CARB ZUCCHINI LASAGNA
5-6 medium zucchini (depending on how big they are)
1 (approx. 24-oz.) jar spaghetti or marinara sauce (I like Prego Heart Smart)
2 tbsp. dried Italian seasoning (can substitute dried oregano)
1 (15-oz.) tub part-skim ricotta cheese
1 (8-oz.) tub lowfat cottage cheese
½ cup grated parmesan cheese
1 tbsp. fresh basil, minced (can use dried)
1 large egg
2 cups part-skim shredded mozzarella cheese
Slice zucchini lengthwise into ⅛-inch thick slices. If you have a mandolin, use it! It makes it much easier to get nice, even slices.
Place sliced zucchini in a colander, sprinkle with a little salt, tossing it together, then set aside over an empty bowl for at least 20 minutes or more. Zucchini contains a lot of water and salting it removes some of the water.
While the zucchini is draining, heat olive oil in a medium saucepot.
Sauté garlic and onions until onions begin to turn translucent.
Add ground turkey and sauté until turkey is cooked through.
Add diced tomatoes, Prego sauce, and Italian seasoning, stirring together well.
Let sauce simmer for 30-40 minutes, stirring occasionally.
While sauce is simmering, rinse zucchini quickly in cold water to remove the salt, then gently squeeze dry between 3 or 4 layers of paper towels.
Spread zucchini on extra paper towels to blot out any excess moisture.
Preheat oven to 375ºF.
In a medium bowl, combine ricotta cheese, cottage cheese, parmesan cheese, basil and egg.
On the bottom of a 9×13 pyrex baking dish, spread one-third of the meat sauce.
Arrange zucchini slices on top of sauce and top with one-half of ricotta mixture.
Do a second layer of one-third meat sauce, zucchini slices, and remaining half of ricotta mixture.
Do a third layer with remaining meat sauce, then zucchini slices, but instead of ricotta mixture, top with shredded mozzarella cheese.
Bake for 20-25 minutes or until mixture starts to bubble around the edges and cheese melts and begins to brown in spots.
Remove from oven and let stand 10-20 minutes before cutting.