There's an easygoing quality to the sometimes-derided zucchini that Marc Vetri loves. "It's just so versatile," says the celebrated Philly chef-restaurateur, who presides over such restaurants as Vetri, Osteria, and Alla Spina. "It works with everything: fish, meat, salads, or on its own."
Vetri likes to cut them in half lengthwise and grill them. "They eat like a steak, with a fantastic meaty texture," he says. For salads, he shaves it on a mandoline; seasons with salt, pepper, extra-virgin olive oil, vinegar, and fresh mint; and serves it as zucchini "pappardelle," a fresh, light veggie play on the wide ribbon pasta.
In his lasagna with zucchini, Vetri pairs the squash and his exquisite house-made pasta with ultrarich Burrata, a shell of fresh mozzarella with sweet cream and cheese curd at the center. In our lighter take, we combine mozzarella with fat-free ricotta and a little mozzarella liquid to mimic the creamy Burrata texture. Try the original dish at Vetri in June in Philadelphia's Center City East.
Lasagna with Zucchini Hands-on: 20 min. Total: 65 min.
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil 3 cups julienne-cut zucchini 2 cups julienne-cut yellow squash 1 1/2 tablespoons chopped fresh thyme 6 garlic cloves, thinly sliced 3/4 teaspoon kosher salt, divided 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper, divided 1 cup fat-free ricotta cheese 1/4 cup water from fresh mozzarella container 4 ounces fresh mozzarella cheese 2 1/2 ounces grated fresh Parmesan cheese (about 10 tablespoons) 1 (9-ounce) package refrigerated fresh lasagna noodles (6 noodles) Cooking spray
1. Preheat oven to 375°. 2. Heat a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add olive oil to pan; swirl to coat. Add zucchini, squash, thyme, and garlic; sauté 5 minutes. Stir in 1/2 teaspoon salt and 1/4 teaspoon pepper. Remove zucchini mixture from pan, and cool completely. 3. Combine remaining 1/4 teaspoon salt, 1/4 teaspoon pepper, ricotta, mozzarella water, and mozzarella in a food processor. Pulse until smooth. Combine 1/2 cup ricotta mixture and 1/2 cup Parmesan. 4. Arrange 2 noodles in an 8-inch square glass baking dish coated with cooking spray; trim to fit if needed. Top with half of zucchini mixture and half of ricotta mixture. Repeat layers, ending with noodles. Top with the ricotta-Parmesan mixture. Cover dish with foil. Bake lasagna at 375° for 30 minutes; uncover. Bake, uncovered, an additional 15 minutes. 5. Turn broiler to high. Sprinkle lasagna with remaining 2 tablespoons Parmesan cheese. Broil 2 minutes or until lightly browned. Let stand for 5 minutes. Cut into 6 slices.
Serves 6 CALORIES 326; FAT 14.2g (sat 6g, mono 4g, poly 0.7g); PROTEIN 17g; CARB 32g; FIBER 3g; CHOL 61mg; IRON 2mg; SODIUM 598mg; CALC 212mg