The Seasoned Franciscan - Cooking Joyfully

Cheesy Zucchini Towers and Zucchini Lasagna

By Molly Hentz (Humble Habits) and Bethany Kramer (A Simple Palate) on Monday, July 31st 2023

Cheesy Zucchini Towers


1 large zucchini

1 C shaved or grated Parmesan cheese

1 tsp salt

1 tsp paprika (optional)

2 tsp extra virgin olive oil


Preheat oven to 420 degrees.

Wash and thinly slice zucchini using a sharp knife or mandolin. Sprinkle with salt, paprika, ½ cup parmesan cheese and 1 tsp olive oil. Mix well.

Then, lightly coat a muffin tin with olive oil and stack your zucchini slices on top of one another in each tin (about 8 in each).

Top with the remaining grated parmesan and bake for 20 minutes or until golden brown. Enjoy as a side dish, an appetizer or a quick snack.


Zucchini Lasagna


4-5 medium-large zucchini, sliced thin (1/8-inch cuts)

1/2 C parmesan cheese          

3 C shredded mozzarella

3 C tomato sauce

2 tsp fresh oregano          3 T fresh basil

Ricotta Filling Ingredients:

3 garlic cloves, minced

1 1/2 C ricotta cheese (drained of liquids)

1/4 C parmesan cheese


pinch of salt            

1/4 tsp black pepper

1/4 c fresh basil, chopped (for dried basil use 2 T)


Preheat oven to 375F.  

Salt & pre-bake zucchini noodles: arrange zucchini slices on sheet pan lined with parchment paper. Sprinkle with course sea salt – let sit for 5-10 minutes so zucchini "sweats" any excess moisture. Use paper towels to press and dry zucchini noodles. Then bake noodles for 8-10 minutes – pat them dry when finished baking. Note: pre-baking the zucchini will help dry up even more moisture from the noodles.

Ricotta filling: in a medium-sized bowl, mix all of ricotta filling ingredients together.

Layer ingredients: In a 13×9 baking dish, layer lasagna: spread a thin layer of sauce on the bottom of the dish, add layer of cooked zucchini noodles, thin layer of ricotta filling, and mozzarella cheese & little parmesan, and generous sprinkle of freshly cut oregano & basil. Repeat each step until finished. On top layer with sauce, mozzarella cheese, and parmesan cheese. 

Leave dish uncovered and bake for 30-40 minutes.  For a browned top, broil on HIGH for 1 to 2 minutes until to your liking.  Top with chopped fresh basil. Slice and enjoy! 

You can make two pans, and freeze one for another day.  Thaw overnight and bake in a 375 degree oven until center is warmed through, about 20 minutes.


To cut the zucchini: If you are experienced with a chef’s knife and feel comfortable, you can slice the zucchini noodles with a sharp knife. Remove the top and bottom stems of the zucchini, stand upright and carefully slice from top to bottom into 1/4-inch thick slices.  Be very careful doing this step.  A mandolin is a great option to get precise vegetables cut without using a chef knife.  Some folks simply cut it in thin rounds and proceed!  It also works to prepare the cheese mixture and/or the zucchini ahead of time and refrigerate.  Wrap zucchini slices in the parchment, wiping off moisture as you go and cover.  Put the dish together the next day.

You can beef up this recipe by adding cooked ground meat or sausage to the sauce.  To make this or any lasagna for vegans, use vegan mozzarella and substitute crumbled firm tofu for the ricotta.  Don't skimp on herbs and add a small "glug" of olive oil to give it that dairy fat mouth feel! 

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Have you ever seen your neighbor coming by with an armful of green torpedo – shaped produce?  Don’t run and hide!  Having an abundance is a challenge and not everyone likes to spend hours in the kitchen.  Which gets me thinking.  We all can't be like our ancestors who thrived on those kinds of garden and kitchen tasks.  If we are honest, many of them had little choice and had varying degrees of success at making the best of it.  Today, we have the privilege of choosing to make things from scratch or finding healthy short-cuts.  What am I good at?  What new experiences will stretch me?  Where do I choose to invest my time and creative energy?  What is my attitude toward the things I do?  towards the food I prepare or simply eat?  One can complain about unavoidable meal chores, tolerate them while wishing we were doing something else, or choose to celebrate that even if I don't like food prep and all that goes into it, I am feeding and caring for my own body and for those I love.  It's an act of loving service and of doing "what is mine to do." 

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