Wednesdays used to be our Guest Blogger Series day; but, there’s just so many new and wonderful Paleo and real-food bloggers out there that we’ve expanded our series. We hope you enjoy the new view points and unique content; if so, we encourage you to show these guest bloggers your support by visiting their blog and social media links at the end of this post!
This week we’re visited by Amy Jo of Pure and Simple. She writes a terrific blog of fantastic recipes with wonderful photographs. Our recipe for today recreates an old favorite without the noodles that have forced it off the menu. Hope you love zucchini, broccoli, and spinach noodle lasagna, too! And for those serving the vegans in your life, they can eat this too!
As you probably know by now, I am not one to hold back the slightest bit of excitement when it comes to food and the sublime flavors that emerge from my kitchen. Even the simplest meal with few ingredients is capable of transforming my mood to an all-time high when it both amuses my tastebuds and satisfies my belly’s strict demands. Since giving up gluten, I am relentless in my attempts to alter my favorite dishes into a nutritious, praiseworthy feast without losing flavors in translation.
Basil, and its spry ability to brighten even the most bland dishes, light my fire, which is one of the main reasons I love the idea of Italian food. However, I usually avoid it like the plague because of the massive amounts of cheese and flour involved in the cooking process. So, I decided to try my hand at a classic lasagna without the dairy, gluten, grains, or meat. I was ecstatic when I tasted the first bite of homemade ricotta cheese made with macadamia nuts. It was divine and so easy to make! I packed it full of basil and Italian parsley to give it some gusto and plenty of nutritional value. Basil contains cinnamanic acid, which is known to stabilize blood sugar, improve circulation, and treat respiratory tract disorders. It is a natural anti-inflammatory and used to reduce fever brought on by infection. The benefit of basil I am most elated to mention is its capacity to repel insects. Mosquitoes are bigger in Texas and I will need all the help I can get keeping them off my skin this summer. Italian parsley is known as a natural diuretic, which assists in the elimination of water and sodium, cleansing the kidneys and liver.
For the sauce, I used tomatoes grown in my grandad’s garden and canned by my grandmother’s nifty hands. It turned out so yummy and knowing where it came from made it 100 times better. I threw in tons of fresh oregano for depth and an appetizing aroma. This herb is used to treat indigestion and soothe stomach discomfort. I also add to it my heavenly Cauliflower Pizza Crust.
The recipe for my Vegetable Lasagna may look a bit overwhelming with all the steps, but I assure you that it’s quite simple with a little patience. I replace the noodles with zucchini squash and layer in broccoli and spinach for a veggie boost. This reheats nicely the in the oven, so make ahead if you have the time or eat as leftovers the following day.
- If using fresh tomatoes, boil a large pot of water and then place tomatoes into boiling water for about 30 seconds, using tongs. Put them into a bowl of ice cold water for a few minutes until cool enough to peel. Slice in half and remove the seeds with a spoon.
- Heat oil in a skillet over low-medium heat.
- Once skillet is hot, add shallots and garlic for about 3-4 minutes, stirring so they will not burn.
- Pour the chopped tomatoes (and juice if using canned), oregano, salt, pepper and cayenne to the garlic and shallots and increase heat to medium-high. Stir well.
- Bring mixture to a boil. Reduce heat to low and simmer for 20 minutes, uncovered.
- Let cool.
- Drain sun-dried tomatoes.
- Add tomato mixture and sun-dried tomatoes to a food processor and blend until you get the consistency you like. I leave mine a bit chunky.
- Add nuts, water, lemon juice, olive oil, garlic cloves, nutmeg and salt to a food processor and blend until smooth.
- Place ricotta mixture into a bowl. Stir basil and parsley into mixture with a spoon. Place in fridge.
- Heat oil in skillet over medium heat.
- 2dd garlic and spinach to oil and sauté for about 2 minutes.
- 3. Turn off heat and set aside spinach.
- Heat oil in skillet over medium heat.
- Add broccoli and sauté in pan about 4 minutes. Cover with lid and let cook for another 5 minutes, stirring occasionally.
- When done, turn off heat and set aside.
- Heat oven to 400 degrees.
- Slice zucchini lengthwise into thin strips.
- 3In a single layer, place zucchini strips onto a parchment lined cookie sheet (I used two cookie sheets).
- Heat in oven for 20 minutes.
- 5. Remove from oven and reduce temperature to 375 degrees.
- In an 11×7 inch pan, pour a thin layer of tomato sauce to coat bottom.
- In a single layer, place half of zucchini strips on top of the tomato sauce.
- Gently spread the ricotta cheese onto the zucchini.
- Evenly spread the broccoli florets on top of the ricotta cheese.
- Next, pour half of the remaining tomato sauce on top of broccoli.
- Add the second layer of zucchini strips.
- Spread the ricotta cheese on top of zucchini.
- Evenly spread spinach on top of the ricotta cheese.
- Pour remaining tomato sauce on top of the spinach.
- Bake in oven for 25 minutes.
- Remove from oven and serve.
Growing up, Amy Jo spent many nights at the kitchen table with good company, heart-warming conversation, and just-out-of-the-oven chocolate cake that made small town living seem poetic. These moments combined with her grandmother’s uncanny knack for pie-making perfection and a desire to enhance the quality of her health inspired an in-depth quest to learn about the power of food and its ability to heal each of us from the inside out. After years of experimentation and study, Amy Jo spends much of her time in the kitchen concocting mouthwatering, gluten-free dishes with fresh ingredients from local farmers. She is also a devoted practitioner and teacher of Yoga. Pure and Simple was created as a way to share her culinary adventures and the nutrient-rich recipes that transpire along the way.