Recipe: Pasta Free Lasagna

img_3880WHAT? Pasta free lasagna? Are you nuts? I know that’s what you are all thinking, but bear with me.

I know so many people are sticking to their New Years Resolutions of eating healthy, but they are longing for the warm, cheesy, rich gooey-ness of their favorite comfort foods. Mr. just finished a 10 day cleanse, and we are slowing adding things back into his diet. He missed cheese, so I set to find a recipe that contains cheese that I could make a little more healthy by omitting some of the other things that he isn’t quite ready to add back in (meat and lots of heavy carbs). I did make spaghetti to go on the side, but you can skip that if you want.

We had a bag of yellow squash in the fridge, so I decided to make lasagna using the squash in the place of the lasagna noodles.

With this recipe, you can add as many veggies as you want. I opted for mire poix (I had bags of it prepped in the freezer), garlic, shallots, tomatoes, and little pieces of the squash that I chopped into bite size pieces. These were the neck or end that I couldn’t cut into planks. I recommend that you use what you’ve got on hand that you really like. You can add ricotta between the layers, but I skipped it because we didn’t have any, and Mr. isn’t ready to add eggs back in yet (if you’ve never made lasagna before, the ricotta filling is a mixture of egg, Parmesan cheese, and ricotta).

img_3875This recipe makes a big 9×13 inch baking dish- There will be leftovers!

Pasta Free Lasagna

Ingredients:

  • 4 yellow or green crooked neck squash (zucchini), cut into planks, Reserve remaining pieces for sauce
  • 1 jar sugar free pasta sauce (or use your favorite)
  • 2 medium onions or 1 large onion, chopped
  • 1 cup carrots, chopped
  • 1 cup celery, chopped
  • 2 cloves of garlic, minced
  • 1 medium shallot, minced
  • 1 can (approx. 14.5 oz) diced tomatoes
  • 1 can tomato paste
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 2 T. Italian seasonning
  • 2 T. Olive oil
  • 1/4 cup red wine
  • 1/2 cup parmesaen cheese
  • 2 cups Italian blend cheese
img_3884
Dinner is served (salad not shown)

Directions:

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees
  2. In a large stock pot, saute onions, celery, and carrots in olive oil until onions are soft and translucent.
  3. Add garlic and shallots, reduce heat. Cook until garlic and shallots are soft and fragrant, about 10 minutes. Stir frequently to avoid burning. Burnt garlic is gross.
  4. Pour wine over veggies and scrape any yummy brown bits off the bottom of the pot. This is called De-glazing the pan. Those brown bits are full of flavor.
  5. Add pasta sauce, herbs, and both cans of tomatoes (diced and paste). Cook on medium for 15-20 minutes. If you want, you can simmer the sauce on low for as long as you want. Make sure to stir frequently and put a lid on the pot.
  6. Add reserved squash bits to sauce. They will cook quickly, so you need to add them last.
  7. Remove from heat.
  8. Ladle sauce in the bottom of the 9×13 baking dish, just enough to cover the bottom of the dish.
  9. Cover the sauce with planks of squash, then layer cheese, and sauce.  repeat until the pan is full- the top layer should be cheese. If you like lots of cheese, use more than the 2 1/2 cups listed above.
  10. Cover pan with foil and bake for 20 minutes at 350. after 20 minutes, uncover pan and bake for an additional 15 minutes, or until cheese is brown and bubbly.
  11. Remove from oven and let rest for about 10 minutes.
  12. Serve with salad and a small portion of whole wheat pasta. I made whole wheat pasta and topped it with a dollop of Chef Shamy Garlic Butter. It’s amazing.

Variations: This meal is already vegetarian and gluten free. If you are vegan, use dairy free cheese. I cannot promise it will be as gooey and delicious, as I’m not familiar with how dairy free cheese cooks.

If you just gotta have meat, start by sauteing 1 lb of ground meat (beef, pork, chicken, or turkey), then continue the recipe as written.

New Recipe: Artichoke Bruschetta Casserole!

Artichoke Bruschetta CasseroleI’m on a new recipe kick right now. I don’t often get inspiration from Pinterest recipes because they are either things we don’t eat, or are overly complicated or cutesy. Instead I draw ideas from cookbooks, magazines, stuff I see at the grocery store while  I cruise the aisles,  and Buzzfeed’s Tasty Videos that are all over Facebook.  I was jonseing for Olive Gardens now defunct Spinach Artichoke dip the other day, so imagine my surprise when I stepped foot into my local 99 Cents Only…

IMG_1755I found a jar of this Bruschetta at 99 Cents Only the other day and small jar of Artichoke dip. I knew I had to take them home and concoct something delicious!

I set to work in the kitchen to find some other ingredients that would pair well to I could whip up something fabu for a meatless meal. I pulled out a bag of frozen spinach and cheese to compliment the flavors of the dips.

 

 

IMG_1754We had a spaghetti Squash on the counter, so in order to keep the dish healthier and full of veggies and fiber, I opted to bake up the squash and use it instead of the traditional noddles or pasta in a casserole. If you’ve never cooked with spaghetti squash, I posted a tutorial here.

After rummaging through the freezer and fridge, I assembled the ingredients and got working! There is no photo of the finished product because it got eaten up quickly.

 

Artichoke Bruschetta Casserole

Directions:

  1. Clean and bake the spaghetti squash. For info on how that’s done, check out the tutorial here.
  2. While the squash is baking, mix together the two dips in a large mixing bowl.
  3. Add the spinach and half of each cheese. Stir until completely mixed.
  4. Prepare a 9×9 glass pan with spray release.
  5. Place all of the spaghetti squash shreds/”noodles” in the bottom of the baking dish, and smooth down to create an even layer.
  6. Pour the dip mixture over the top and smooth to evenly cover the squash.
  7. Top with the remaining cheeses.
  8. Bake at 350 for 20-30 minutes or until the cheese has started to brown and bubble.

This dish is gluten free and vegetarian. To make it vegan, use dairy-free cheese! If you HAVE to have meat, this would be great with grilled chicken, or Italian sausages mixed in or served along side.

This recipe serves 2 as a main dish or 4 as a side dish.

 

 

 

Delectable Tuesday: Easy Peasy Black Bean Soup!

Hubs loves Black Bean soup.  So based on what we had in the cupboard and fridge, I whipped up a batch. I didn’t have a specific recipe in mind, I just played it by ear and it turned out GREAT!!

Black Bean Soup (makes 6 1-cup servings)

Ingredients:

  • 2 15 oz. cans of organic black beans (do not drain)
  • 2 c. salsa of your choice
  • 1 can chicken broth (if you are a vegetarian, use vegetable broth)
  • 1 bunch cilantro (top, leafy part only) chopped
  • 1/4 c. chopped onion (white or purple, whatever you have)
  • 1/4 c. chopped  Fresh Jalapeño Peppers (about 2)
  • dash of hot sauce (your choice, optional)
  • 6 T. plain Greek Yogurt or low fat Sour Cream

Directions:

  1. Combine everything in a large stockpot.
  2. Cook the soup on low for 45 minutes to 1 hour. Really simmer it gently and allow the flavors to meld.
  3. Ladle into bowls and top each bowl with 1 T. of plain Greek Yogurt or low fat Sour Cream.
  4. Serve with quesadillas and Mexican Cesar Salad.

Mexican Cesar Salad

Ingredients:

  • 6-8 cups of your favorite lettuce/lettuce blend (romaine and bibb is great!)
  • 2 tomatoes cubed/sliced
  • ½ cup purple onion, cut into rings
  • ¼ c ranch dressing
  • ½ c your favorite salsa

Directions:

  1. Combine the salsa and ranch together, chill in fridge 6-8 hours before servings. This allows the flavors to blend.
  2. Toss the veggies in a chilled salad bowl with the dressing.
  3. Top with ¼ c crushed corn chips/tortilla chips for some added crunch!

Serve topped with grilled chicken breasts for an entree or without meat as a side dish.  Serves 3 as an entree, serves 6 as a side dish.