may 29, 2015
Lowering your carbohydrate intake doesn’t mean you have to give up lasagna, not when shirataki noodles take the place of pasta. Besides, some of us like lasagna for the gooey cheese and meat sauce, viewing pasta as simply the vehicle for those ingredients.
Skinny noodles made from the starch of the konjac yam, shirataki are super low in calories and carbohydrates, and generally offer little in the way of nutrition, making them a perfect foil for foods that count, like crunchy vegetables and aromatic broths, grilled meats and seafood and anything normally paired with wheat or non-wheat pastas. They are made from indigestible fiber and may also be fashioned from soy (tofu shirataki), equally low in carbohydrates.
Sold mainly in Asian grocery stores, shirataki can increasingly be found in mainstream markets in the refrigerated section near the vegetable bins. These noodles are gelatinous in texture; you must love cellophane noodles and other slippery foods if you are to become enamored of shirataki. Their packaging liquid smells vaguely fishy, so a good rinse and drain will render them recipe-ready. They tend to exude lots of liquid when cooked in a dish like this lasagna, but I like to eat my meals with a spoon and the velvety sauce suits me fine.
Meat sauce is made better with local spicy pork sausage, from well fed and well tended heritage breed hogs allowed to forage happily on the farm. Read my previous post about a visit to Harmony Hill Farm to see why I admire these ethical farmers and their tasty products. Locally, I find their chicken and pork products at the St. Stephen’s Farmer’s Market on Saturdays here in Richmond, and occasionally at my neighborhood grocer Little House Green Grocery.
A simple meat sauce made with Harmony Hill’s hot Italian sausage is layered with roasted squash and sweet peppers, ricotta and fresh mozzarella cheeses and shirataki noodles. This is a marvelous make-ahead recipe, one that can feed for the week ahead and one that will allow you more leeway to enjoy those carbs that count in your accompanying big chopped salad.
Shirataki Sausage Lasagna
recipe by Michele Humlan, The Good Eats Company
one cup sweet onion, finely chopped
extra virgin olive oil
fine white or black pepper
one pound hot Italian sausage (removed from links if not packed loose)
two large garlic cloves, zested or minced fine
½ teaspoon each dried oregano and basil
¼ teaspoon crushed red pepper
28 ounce can crushed tomatoes
one large yellow squash, cut in 1/2 inch dice
one large zucchini squash, cut in 1/2 inch dice
12 ounces miniature sweet peppers, cut in rings and trimmed of obvious seeds
four 7 ounce packages shirataki noodles, drained, rinsed and drained again (cut with kitchen shears to make smaller lengths if desired – I do this)
one pound fresh mozzarella, cut in ¼ inch slices
15 ounces fresh ricotta cheese
- Preheat oven to 400 degrees.
- In heavy two quart saucepan, combine onion with one tablespoon oil and pinches of salt and pepper over medium heat.
- When mixture begins to sizzle, turn heat to medium low and cook until onion is soft and translucent, stirring occasionally, about 10 minutes.
- Increase heat and add sausage, breaking up with wooden spoon as it cooks until no pink remains and sausage is very lightly browned, carefully maintaining heat so onion does not brown darkly- you want to avoid a bitter taste.
- Add garlic, basil, oregano and crushed red pepper, stir about 10 seconds and then add crushed tomatoes, stirring well until all combined.
- Cook over medium low heat without stirring, uncovered, about 30 minutes until thick; sauce should just bubble gently.
- On large sheet pan, toss both squashes with ½ tablespoon olive oil and a pinch of kosher salt and roast until tender, about 15 minutes.
- On second sheet pan, toss pepper rings with ½ tablespoon olive oil and a pinch of kosher salt and roast until tender, about 15 minutes.
- Decrease oven heat to 375 degrees.
- Grease 9 X 13 casserole dish.
- To assemble, spread ¼ of the tomato sauce in the dish, top with half the cut shirataki noodles, then half the roasted vegetables.
- Add about half the fresh mozzarella, saving the six largest center slices for the top layer.
- Dot with all the ricotta, followed by half the remaining meat sauce.
- Finish by adding the rest of the noodles, then the roasted vegetables, then the remaining sauce.
- Top casserole with the six largest mozzarella slices, and bake for 30 minutes.
- Allow to sit at least 15 minutes before serving.
- There will be a fair amount of liquid, which will absorb into the lasagna somewhat as it cools; reheating portions in the oven will dry some of this, but if you are like me and adore sauce, spoon this up as you plate the servings.
- May be made up to 5 days ahead.