Zucchini Lasagna with Beef & Mushrooms

I posted this so-so photo of the lasagna I made last night, inspired by a Skinnytaste recipe. After many requests for the recipe, here’s my adaptation!

Do not be fooled by the fact that the original recipe is Skinnytaste. As you may know by now, I love cheese. So I was compelled to add extra cheese. Not sorry.

Make sure you salt the zucchini slices, laid out on paper towels. Pat them dry after 15 minutes. If you skip this step, you’ll have lasagna stew because zucchini is full of water.

Use any type of ground meat you like – I used half a pound of venison and half a pound of beef sirloin. Turkey…Italian sausage…it will all work great!

I shortcut the sauce by using jarred. 6pm on a Monday after a full day of work is no time to make your own sauce, so pull out the jar, folks! I won’t tell.

Zucchini Lasagna with Beef & Mushrooms

servings=6

  • 1 1/2 pounds zucchini, stem end removed, sliced to 1/8″ on a mandolin slicer (this is the weight of the final stack of slices)
  • 1 pound ground meat (beef, turkey, pork, venison, etc.)
  • 1/2 small yellow onion, diced
  • 4 ounces cremini or white mushrooms, sliced thin
  • 1 jar (around 24 ounces) of your favorite spaghetti sauce (tomato basil works great)
  • 24 ounces ricotta cheese
  • 1/2 cup grated Parmesan (or you could use shredded if you like), plus more for topping
  • 1 large egg
  • 3 cups shredded mozzarella cheese
  • salt, for zucchini

Preheat oven to 375°F.

Slice the zucchini and lay on paper towels. Sprinkle with salt.

In a large pan, brown the meat and onion over medium heat. While the meat cooks, combine the ricotta, Parmesan and egg in a bowl. Set aside.

When the meat is done, drain off any liquid. Add spaghetti sauce and mushrooms; stir to combine. Simmer, covered, over medium heat for 10 minutes.

While the sauce simmers, blot the zucchini dry.

In a deep 3 1/2 quart casserole, layer 1/4 meat sauce in the bottom. Layer 1/3 zucchini slices on top, making the slices overlap. Spread 1/3 ricotta mixture over top; repeat sauce-zucchini-ricotta two more times so you have 3 layers.

Spoon remaining sauce on top of top layer of ricotta. Sprinkle with mozzarella and Parmesan.

Cover with foil. Bake for 45 minutes, then 15-20 minutes uncovered until cheese is browned and bubbly. Let stand 15 minutes before serving. Enjoy!

Adapted from Skinnytaste.com’s Zucchini Lasagna


Three Cheese Stuffed Shells

Mmmmm….stuffed shells.  My version is full of Ricotta, Mozzarella and fresh Parmesan cheese, plus spinach for a nutritional punch.

I always double the recipe and freeze the extra pan – then you can take right from the freezer, bake in the oven at 350 degrees until hot and bubbly and have dinner ready any night of the week!

To my gluten free friends: unfortunately, as of today jumbo shells (or cannelloni shells, or anything else you might stuff with cheese) don’t have a gluten free version available.  If one of you does come across them, please let me know and I’ll add that info here!

 

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Three Cheese Stuffed Shells

Yield 30-35 stuffed shells.

  • 32 ounces (4 cups) Ricotta cheese
  • 8 ounces (2 cups) shredded fresh Mozzarella cheese
  • 1/4 cups coarsely shredded fresh Parmesan cheese
  • 10 ounces cooked chopped spinach, squeezed as dry as possible
  • 2 eggs
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon pepper
  • 1/2 tablespoon dried parsley
  • 1/2 tablespoon dried oregano
  • 1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes
  • 1 12 ounce box jumbo shells
  • 1 jar spaghetti sauce, any flavor
  • more shredded Mozzarella or Parmesan cheese, for topping

Cook and drain as much liquid as possible from the spinach.  In a large mixing bowl, add cheeses, spinach, eggs, salt, pepper, parsley, oregano, and red pepper flakes.  Mix gently with a spoon or use your hands.

Cook the shells about 3/4 of the time the directions indicate.  Once slightly cooled, fill each shell with the cheese and spinach mixture.

In a 13×9 inch baking dish, spread enough spaghetti sauce to cover the bottom.  Place stuffed shells seam side up in rows.  Repeat until dish is full.

Top with the remaining spaghetti sauce, plus more Mozzarella or Parmesan cheese.  Bake at 350 degrees for 15-20 minutes, then turn the heat up to 375 for another 10-15 minutes.

Serve immediately.  Alternatively, the finished (but uncooked) dish can be tightly wrapped and frozen.  Bake from frozen at 350 degrees until hot and bubbly.  Enjoy!


Spaghetti and Meatballs

Spaghetti and meatballs made it onto the menu tonight.  I don’t always make my own sauce, but today I thought I’d share my homemade version with my mom’s meatball recipe.  I’m not quite adventurous enough to make the sauce from fresh tomatoes, but you certainly could!

To make this recipe gluten free, all you need to do is substitute two ingredients: the bread crumbs and pasta noodles.  That’s it – easy peasy!

I add grated carrot to this recipe for added invisible veggies!  And I grate the onion, too, so it melts into the sauce.

I always use 90/10 lean/fat ratio ground beef…80/20 is too oily, leaving oil to pool on top of the sauce (yuck).  90/10 meatballs will hold together well and not grease up your sauce!

The golden rule of ground beef is to handle it as little as possible; the more you mess with it, the tougher it becomes once cooked.  So use your fingers to incorporate the spices and breadcrumbs until just combined.

A classic comfort dish!  Add some Bubble Toast to make it even better!

Spaghetti and Meatballs

Use gluten free breadcrumbs and pasta to make this dish gluten free!

sauce:

  • 1 box (can) strained tomatoes (large size, around 28 ounces)
  • 1 box (can) crushed tomatoes (large size, around 28 ounces)
  • 4 garlic cloves, crushed and minced
  • 1/2 cup carrot, grated
  • 1/2 cup onion, grated
  • 8 ounces sliced mushrooms
  • 1/3 cup olive oil
  • 1 teaspoon dried oregano
  • 16 box of spaghetti noodles

meatballs:

  • 1 pound ground beef (I prefer 90/10 sirloin)
  • 1 egg
  • 1/2 cup breadcrumbs (I use Italian seasoned)
  • 1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes
  • 1/4 teaspoon fennel seed, crushed
  • few dashes Worcestershire sauce
  • salt and pepper, if desired

 

Heat 2 tablespoons olive oil in a dutch over or heavy stockpot.  Add grated carrot, onion, and garlic.  Saute until carrot is soft, about 5 minutes.

Add both boxes of tomatoes, sliced mushrooms, oregano, and rest of olive oil.  Stir, cover and simmer over medium-low heat.

To make the meatballs, combine all ingredients in a large bowl.  Use your hands to gently incorporate seasonings into meat until just combined.

Form into golf ball-sized balls, and drop directly into simmering sauce.  Repeat until all meat is gone.

Cover meatballs with sauce, replace lid and simmer 30 to 45 minutes.  When meatballs are done, add salt to taste and stir.  Serve with homemade garlic bread.  Enjoy!