I grew up thinking I hated Italian food. No carb filled lasagna or greasy fettuccine alfredo for this mountain girl! This was so many years before I began running half marathons and first heard the term carbo-loading. Up among the pines in the mountain town I grew up in we were an hour’s drive from the nearest Olive Garden and to my family, their idea of a good Italian meal was unlimited breadsticks.
This was so many years before I would journey to Venice in my twenties, munching my way across the canals trying tidbits at different Cicchetti eateries (Venice style tapas) along the way. I ate a lot of pasta with red sauces as a child and plain spaghetti just might not be my thing. Thank God travels to Italy showed me what authentic Italian food is really like.
Ten years later in my late thirties, I struggled through Rome. I had once again been on holiday two days prior in Venice and was so sick with the flu I could barely lift a glass of Pinot Grigio to my lips or enjoy a crusty wood-fired Venetian pizza. Puking my way through those ancient canals was not how I had pictured my return trip to Venice panning out. But I did manage to drag my exhausted body all over the alleyways of Venice one morning snapping a few photos and wishing I could keep some food down to go enjoy a fried dough zeppole, my favorite Italian pastry when in Venice. I did eventually buy two of these the morning we left Venice right before we hopped in the water taxi and then I was able to enjoy them a few hours later at the Venice airport. That was the first time I was able to keep food down in days, yea!
An hour plane ride later we found ourselves wandering the streets of Rome. I tried not to pass out at the Coliseum. I tried not to puke at the Roman Forum. Then I tried to enjoy pasta and a cappuccino at an alfresco restaurant just down the road from the Pantheon. We never made it to the Trevi fountain because at that point I was just incredibly wiped out.
Getting incredibly sick with the flu is something that has never happened to me on a foreign vacation before and I really hope I never have to go through this again. I really would have liked to have walked all over Rome. This ancient city seems awesome for anyone who likes to take walking tours of foreign cities but I could barely even stand in line to walk into the coliseum and that was before the guy standing next to me in line blew cigarette smoke directly into my mouth. When in Rome, personal space does not matter.
I’m just thankful that we were in crowded touristy Rome the second week in January and not latter in the winter when the Roman standing next to me could have been blowing Coronavirus germs directly into my work and not just second-hand smoke.
We definitely did not find anything keto to eat the whole time we were in Italy. This is just fine with me because when in Italy I think you should eat as much wood-fired pizza and gelato as one possibly can. Now that we are back from our month-long holiday abroad we are back to gluten-free keto all the time and this Keto zucchini lasagna is just so delicious. Yes, you can have authentic Italian food without the carbs!
We did however find a street vendor who looked exactly like Donald Trump. Or maybe I was just delirious wandering the streets of Venice with a 102-degree fever. One way or another we had a delightful only in Venice experience of buying an oil painting from The Donald.
Donald Trump selling my boyfriend a painting was not the highlight of our Italian vacation but it was definitely one of those memories we will not forget anytime soon. (Especially as my boyfriend was haggling over the price of the painting, he had no idea the guy looked like Donald Trump. We even forced him to unknowingly take a photo with The Donald. Back at home in the U.S. now this is my favorite Venice inspired keto lasagna.
Veal and Zucchini Keto Lasagna
3 zucchini, sliced thin
1/2 cup ricotta cheese
Zest of one lemon
1/4 cup pecorino Romano cheese
1 cup goat cheese
1/4 cup fresh basil leaves chopped
3 cups your go-to tomato sauce (I buy this one, from Trader Joe’s)
1 pound ground veal (cooked)
3/4 cup grated mozzarella cheese
Mix the ricotta, egg, lemon zest, basil and pecorino. Layer the zucchini in a criss-cross pattern put a dollop of the ricotta on the middle section and fold the zucchini slices up like a package. In a big glass pan layer the zucchini packages, then the veal, then the goat cheese pieces. Pour the sauce over the top, then the shredded mozzarella cheese. Bake at 375 for 25 minutes.