Carb-free Herb-y Vegetarian Lasagna

Before I tell you about this recipe, please keep in mind the photos were taken at 10 pm...so I know they are not perfect...

One more important note: I realize that this is technically not a carb-free recipe, as it contains black beans. But those carbs are good for you, right? Plus, you'll be getting quite a bit of fiber and protein. So in this case, carb-free refers to lack of pasta.

In January, I joined a gym and hired a personal trainer. One of his rules for me is to avoid carbs after 6 pm five days a week. It's a hard rule to follow because I love potatoes, pasta and rice, but I've been doing pretty well so far (not that my scale or clothes have noticed it).

I came up with this recipe as a way to have lasagna without consuming noodles. The vegetarian part came accidentally: I just did not have any ground beef or chicken in my refrigerator.

1 cup parsley
2 garlic cloves
24 ounce cottage cheese (I used 2%)
1 egg
4 zucchini, thinly sliced
15.25 ounce can black beans, rinsed, drained
1 teaspoon olive oil
6 ounces fresh spinach
2 dashes red pepper flakes
28 ounce crushed tomatoes
1/4 cup grated Parmesan

1. Preheat the oven to 375.
2. In a food processor chop parsley and garlic.

3. Add cottage cheese and puree (if you want to buy Ricotta, you can skip this step).

4. Add an egg and puree till everything is incorporated.

5. Meanwhile, bake sliced zucchini for about 15 minutes, just to soften them up. Alternatively, if you have an outside grill, you can grill your zucchini slices.

6. In a medium skillet heat olive oil. Add spinach and red pepper flakes and saute till the spinach wilts (the photo below is of "before").

7. In an 8x8 Pyrex dish make the following layers:
crushed tomatoes
cottage cheese mixture
black beans
crushed tomatoes
cottage cheese mixture
crushed tomatoes
cottage cheese mixture

8. Bake for 45 minutes (it's best to set your Pyrex on a cookie sheet in case there is some spillage...it also makes it easier to take out the dish from the oven).

Let the lasagna stand for at least 15 minutes before cutting into it.

CONFESSION: the lasagna looked and smelled awesome! However, once I cut into it, there was a lot of liquid. I guess this could be due to the high water content of spinach and zucchini? What are your thoughts?

Still, I managed to take a few decent photos. And what matters the most, is that this is relatively healthy dish that tastes good.

This is just me playing around with the f stop on my camera to blur the background (a red vase, a bowl of lemons and a chair).

Do you have any suggestions for making this lasagna less watery? What are your favorite carb-free meals?


Lauren (Healthy Delicious) said...

It looks delicious! Not sure what made it watery - I've made something very similar with eggplant instead of zucchini and didn't have that problem. I wonder if using crushed tomatoes had something to do with it? Those can be a lot thinner than sauce sometimes. Or, if it was the zucchini, maybe you could try grilling it before you assembly the lasagna to firm it up some?

Eileen said...

I also eat low carb so I really appreciate you posting this recipe! Please keep them coming!! Feel free to check out my blog for all of my low carb creations.

Addressing the watery-ness, did you drain the spinach after cooking it? It's amazing how much water spinach holds.

Thanks again for the recipe!

Veggie Belly said...

YUM!YUM!YUM! I would find it very difficult to not have carbs after 6pm. But this lasagna sounds so satisfying, I would be happy to give up the carbs!

Heavenly Housewife said...

Absolutely fantastic. I tried a low carb diet for two weeks. It sucked, but maybe it wouldn't have if I had someone to make me this. It looks beautiful!

Ksenia said...

Honestly, lasagna is one of the most difficult dishes to veganise for me. I tried a couple of recipes that were supposed to be lasagna, but they always tasted nice but different. I suppose it would be closer to the original with some kind of soy cheese substitute.

My favorite carb-free meals...I love tofu cooked in some not too fatty way (sautéed, grilled, baked...). I also like homemade seitan with some veggies as a side.

I would say I love bens and chickpeas too, but I know they're far from being carb-free :P

PS: Thanks for stopping by my blog! How many years did you lived in Moscow? :) I miss it so much sometimes u.u

When we can find fresh dill (which is...hardly ever) we add it too. Yes, I know that the typical (some people would call it authentic) version has hard boiled egg in it. But being vegan, I haven't found a substitute yet. I could try with tofu pieces, but I don't think it would be the same. So I prefer just leaving it out :P

About the sunflower oil is funny, because when we moved to Spain I couldn't stand olive oil and its strong flavor. Now I got so used to it that I think that the sunflower one doesn't have any taste.

Well, at least the refined one, which is the only you find here. The unrefined is a thousand times more delicious! :D

Esi said...

Love this lasagna, but beware of calling it "carb free". Black beans have quite a few carbs in them...but good ones :)

kitchen tables said...

This is amazingly delicious! I am sure of that! I am so excited to try this one!

tigerfish said...

I was thinking it might be the spinach causing the liquid too. Can we squeeze the moisture out from the spinach before layering them into the lasagna?

grace said...

awesome. i wouldn't expect to see black beans in something like this and that makes me like it even more. my guess is that the culprit is those crushed tomatoes--those suckers are juicy! regardless of the liquid factor, it looks like a delicious meal. :)

Lasagna Recipes said...

Really great looking vegetarian lasagna you've got here! I don't mind my lasagna being a bit watery (I'd prefer that anytime over being dry!). But I think in your case it's the spinach. I usually boil my spinach first, then shock it in cold water then squeeze out all the water before adding it into my sauce.

Evan Halperin said...

This looks great...and no ricotta which I can't eat

Sophie said...

What a grand lasagne, that's for sure, Olga!!

I love the pictures,...very appetizing too!


Junglefrog said...

That is a lovely looking lasagna Olga. With regards to the water; when I have spinach in anything I usually boil or wok them first and then squeeze out all the water as otherwise it is always too moist. But I bet it still tasted good!

Clarissa said...

Zucchini, tomatoes, and cottage cheese also have carbs. You are better off calling this a low carb recipe. It's either carb-free or not carb-free. It can not be a little bit carb-free. Carb-free means no carbs, not whatever you want it to mean.

Cande said...

Clarissa is right, it's not carb-free. It looks delicious though!

nicole said...

this looks yummy! don't listen to those people -- to us "lay people" carb-free just means no pasta! :)

maybe try egg plant instead of zucchini? i think it has a little less water. Also, maybe use tofu instead of ricotta for even healthier!

LetMeEatCake Eat With Me! said...

wow all this food looks soooo good! i'm jealous of your eating extravaganza :)

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Jo said...

That looks really yummy and healthy! Thanks for the recipe.

Carol said...

I love it! I'm thinking of using squash instead of zucchini as I don't have 1 available?

LOIUIOP said...

I have a similar recipe. I dry out the zucchini. Slice the zucchini thin and then lay them on a paper towel-covered cookie sheet. I then thoroughly salt the zucchini and let it stand for about 1 hour in a place where it won't be bothered. After an hour I pat the one side of the zucchini with a towel to remove the liquid. Then I flip the zucchini over and repeat the process. This removes 80% of the water in the zucchini and your lasagna will have a lot less liquid. I hope this helps.

Olga @ MangoTomato said...

Thank you! That's an excellent suggestion.

afracooking said...

Awsome idea! I must try it!! My favourite carb free food is cauliflower - you can turn it into mash, couscous and rice. The other is zucchini for zuccini "pasta" and fritters. I have quite a few carb free recipes on my blog. You are always welcome to drop by.