Dinner tonight: pasta-less lasagna and cold sesame noodles

On a busy weeknight, a plate of pasta or noodles is the perfect meal to make. But you can make it even better with a few more steps and ingredients.

Dinner tonight: pasta-less lasagna and cold sesame noodles

Pasta-less lasagna

The best thing about lasagna is the layers of flavour from the cheese, sauce and noodles. Here's a fun twist that replaces the layer of noodles with a layer of broiled zucchini slices.

Preparation time 25 minutes 

Cooking time 55 minutes 

Serves 4

  • 3 zucchini, about 1.5 kg (3 lb)
  • 30 ml (2 tbsp) extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 ml (1/4 tsp) salt
  • 0.5 ml (1/8 tsp) freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 container (425g/15 oz) part-skim ricotta cheese
  • 350 ml (1 1/2 c) cups shredded mozzarella cheese, divided
  • 1 large egg
  • 125 ml (1/2 c) grated Parmesan cheese, divided
  • 350 ml (1 1/2 c) jarred tomato-basil sauce
  1. Preheat the broiler and coat a large baking sheet with cooking spray.
  2. Working one at a time, carefully cut each zucchini lengthwise into six slices. Brush the slices with the oil and sprinkle with salt and pepper. Arrange one-half of the slices on the baking sheet and broil 40 centimetres (five inches) from the heat until they start to brown slightly, about five minutes. Turn the zucchini and broil until lightly browned, four to five minutes longer. Transfer to a plate and repeat with the remaining zucchini slices.
  3. Preheat the oven to 180°C (350°F). Coat an 20 centimetre (eight inch) square baking dish with cooking spray.
  4. Combine the ricotta, 250 millilitres (one cup) of the mozzarella cheese, the egg and 50 millilitres (1/4 cup) of the Parmesan in a small bowl.
  5. Spread 125 millilitres (1/2 cup) of the sauce over the bottom and top with six slightly overlapping slices of zucchini. Top with one-half of the ricotta mixture and 125 millilitres (1/2 cup) of the sauce. Repeat the layering with six slices of zucchini and the remaining ricotta mixture and sauce. Top with the remaining six slices of zucchini.
  6. Sprinkle the top with the remaining 125 grams (1/2 cup) mozzarella and the remaining 50 grams (1/4 cup) Parmesan. Cover with foil and bake for 35 minutes. Uncover the lasagna and bake until bubbly, about 10 minutes longer.
  7. Remove from the oven and let stand 10 minutes before cutting.

Cold sesame noodles and vegetables

A long-time favourite at Chinese restaurants, cold sesame noodles make a great main dish or side dish.

Preparation time 15 minutes 

Cooking time 15 minutes 

Serves 4

  • 225 g (8 oz) whole wheat linguine
  • 75 ml (1/3 c) fresh cilantro leaves
  • 30 ml (2 tbsp) low-sodium peanut butter
  • 30 ml (2 tbsp) reduced-sodium soy sauce
  • 7 ml (2 1/2 tsp) honey
  • 15 ml (1 tbsp) rice vinegar or apple-cider vinegar
  • 15 ml (1 tbsp) dark sesame oil
  • 2 garlic cloves
  • 1 ml (1/4 tsp) cayenne pepper
  • Salt125 ml (1/2 c) slivered carrots
  • 1 red pepper, seeded and slivered
  • 1 large stalk celery, slivered
  • 2 scallions, slivered
  1. Bring a large pot of salted water to a boilover high heat. Add the pasta and cook according to the package directions. Drain, reserving 125 millilitres (1/2 cup) of the cooking water.
  2. Meanwhile, combine the cilantro, peanut butter, soy sauce, honey, vinegar, oil, garlic, cayenne and salt, to taste, in a food processor. Purée until smooth, then transfer to large bowl and whisk in the reserved pasta cooking water. Add the linguine, carrots, red pepper, celery and scallions. Toss.
  3. Chill at least one hour before serving.

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