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This was a quick and easy lasagna, as far as lasagna goes. A little prep, a short time in the oven and voilà! Although no-boil noodles might have shaved off a little more work too. This recipe is super cheesy but packed with vegetables. Probably not the most healthy version out there, but great for a weeknight and the greens provide a punch of vitamins.

vegetable lasagna

Vegetable Lasagna
via bhg

8 ounces dried lasagna noodles (9 or 10 noodles)
2 eggs, beaten
2 cups cottage cheese
15 ounce ricotta cheese
1 teaspoon dried oregano
1 teaspoon dried thyme
2 cups sliced fresh mushrooms
1 large yellow onion, chopped
1 cup shredded carrot
10 ounce package frozen chopped spinach, thawed and thoroughly drained
10 ounce package frozen chopped broccoli, thawed and thoroughly drained
4 cloves garlic, minced
2 tablespoons olive oil
2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon black pepper
1 1/4 cups milk
3/4 cup shredded Parmesan cheese
2 cups shredded mozzarella cheese

Preheat oven to 350 F. Cook lasagna noodles according to package directions. Drain; set aside.
In a medium bowl combine eggs, cottage cheese, ricotta cheese, oregano and thyme. Set aside.
In a large skillet cook mushrooms, onion, and garlic in hot oil until tender. Stir in the flour and pepper; add milk all at once. Cook and stir until slightly thickened and bubbly. Remove from heat. Stir in the spinach, broccoli, carrot, and 1/2 cup of the Parmesan cheese.
To assemble, in a greased 3-quart rectangular baking dish, layer one-third of the noodles, folding or cutting to fit, if necessary. Spread with one-third of the cottage cheese mixture, then one-third of the vegetable mixture. Sprinkle with one-third of the mozzarella. Repeat the layers twice. Sprinkle with the remaining 1/4 cup Parmesan cheese.
Bake uncovered for 35 minutes or until heated through. Let stand for 10 minutes before serving.

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My darling husband was craving asparagus and I happened to have this queued up in my to-do list. Super quick with very little prep and you have a bowl of rich, creamy delicious risotto-like couscous. I couldn’t track down the chervil that the original recipe called for, so I substituted parsley and threw in a bit of arugula that I had on hand also. The flavors melded perfectly.

couscous with asparagus greens and white wine

Couscous with Asparagus, Greens & White Wine
adapted from food52

4 tablespoons salted butter, divided
1 1/2 cup Israeli or pearl couscous
1/4 cup dry white wine
3 1/2 cups chicken or vegetable broth
1 lb asparagus, trimmed and cut into ½-inch pieces
1/4 cup finely grated Pecorino
1/2 cup chopped pistachios
1/4 cup roughly chopped parsley
1/4 cup roughly chopped arugula

Melt 2 tablespoons butter in a medium saucepan over medium-high heat. Add couscous and cook until partially toasted, 2 minutes. Add wine and cook, stirring, until almost evaporated, 2 minutes. Meanwhile, heat broth in a second saucepan until warm. Add 1 cup broth to couscous and quickly simmer over medium-high heat until the couscous is silky and the liquid has nearly evaporated, about 3 minutes. Repeat with the remaining 2 1/2 cups broth, adding a cup at a time and cooking until each addition has nearly evaporated. Stir asparagus into couscous with the last cup of broth. Once couscous is tender and all the broth has been added, stir in Pecorino, pistachios, parsley, arugula and remaining butter. Sprinkle servings with additional Pecorino, pistachios and parsley, if desired. Serve immediately.

This dish really wowed me. Although it took a little longer than expected to ribbon the kale, it was well worth it and a pretty simple meal overall. And absolutely delicious the next day cold for lunch! I threw an extra splash of soy sauce after I pulled it out of the fridge this afternoon to freshen up the sauce and voila! Even more perfect on day two.

kale and brussel sprout soba noodles

Kale & Brussel Sprout Soba Noodles
via sprouted kitchen

1 bunch tuscan kale
5 tsp. toasted sesame oil
10 brussels sprouts
1 plump clove garlic
1 Tbsp. rice vinegar
1 tsp. low sodium soy sauce
2 Tbsp. toasted sesame seeds (white or black)
2 pinches red pepper flakes
4-8 oz. soba noodles
4 slivered green onions, for garnish

Slice the kale leaves from their stems and discard the stems. Working in batches, stack the leaves, roll them up tightly lengthwise, and then thinly slice them crosswise into narrow ribbons. Put the ribbons in a large bowl with 1 tsp. of the sesame oil and 1/4 tsp. salt. Massage the leaves with your hands until they glisten. Discard any funky outer leaves from the brussel sprouts. Slice them paper thin (a mandoline works best, but I just used my kitchen knife) then toss them with the kale.
Pound the garlic until smooth in a small mortar (or mince it super fine!). Stir in the vinegar, remaining sesame oil and soy sauce. Pour the dressing over the greens and toss well. This much can be done in advance and kept in the fridge until ready to serve, or enjoyed alone as a salad.
Bring the water to a boil. When starting the noodles, finish the salad with the sesame seeds, pepper flakes and green onions. Cook the noodles according to package instructions and drain well. Toss the noodles with the greens. The noodle salad can be served warm or cold.

Phew! It’s been a while. Work has been crazy lately and I’ve had little time for anything. I kinda just need a nap. The other night after I dragged myself home to an empty house (husband was at hockey), I whipped up a batch of this with the ingredients I had on hand. Soooo good! A little comfort food is just what you need sometimes. Might replace that blue box next time I have a mac ‘n cheese craving.

parmesan orzo

Parmesan & Spinach Orzo
adapted from my tiny oven & life as a strawberry

2 tbsp butter
2 1/2 cups orzo
2 tbsp olive oil
1 clove garlic
salt and pepper to taste
2 tsp. flour
1 cup milk (I used 2%)
2/3 cups spinach, chopped
3/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese

Melt the butter over medium heat. Add the orzo and saute for a few minutes, until the orzo start to get golden brown. Remove from heat. Cook orzo according to package directions. Set aside.
Heat olive oil in a medium-sized pot over medium heat. Add garlic and saute for about 1 minute. Add flour to form a roux and cook for an additional minute. Add about 1/4 cup of the milk to the pot and whisk to work out any lumps from the roux. When lumps are worked out, add the remaining milk and whisk to combine. Bring to a simmer and cook until sauce has thickened, about 8 minutes.Add chopped spinach to sauce and cook an additional 2 minutes or until spinach has cooked down. Remove sauce from heat. Stir parmesan cheese into sauce. Add salt and pepper to taste. When the cheese has melted, add cooked orzo to sauce and toss to coat. Garnish with extra parmesan cheese and serve immediately.

 

image via my tiny oven

I love a quick, easy weeknight meal. I love a quick, easy weeknight meal that tastes great and shakes my regular rotation of flavors up even more. I don’t cook with cinnamon often. It used to scare me a bit. I had never mixed what I considered a traditionally “sweet” spice with my regular savory ones until recently. I branched out last month with Chicken Tikka Masala and haven’t looked back.

moroccan vegetable stew with couscous and mint gremolata

Moroccan Vegetable Stew with Couscous and Mint Gremolata
via garlic shoots

Stew:
2 tablespoons olive oil
2 leeks, white and light green parts only, washed and sliced
1 tablespoon tomato paste
2 medium carrots, peeled and cut into 1/4-inch diagonals
1 14.5-ounce can diced tomatoes
Large pinch saffron threads
1/2 teaspoon red-pepper flakes
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
1 15-ounce can garbanzo beans, drained and rinsed
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon freshly cracked black pepper
1/2 cup peas, frozen or fresh
1/2 pound spinach, washed, stemmed and roughly chopped

Couscous:
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 cup plain couscous
1 teaspoon salt

Gremolata:
2 tablespoons chopped fresh mint
2 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley
1 small garlic clove, minced
2 teaspoons fresh lemon zest

Heat the oil in a large saucepan, 5 quarts or so, over medium heat. Add the leeks and saute, stirring frequently, until softened, about 7 or 8 minutes. Watch so they don’t burn. Add the tomato paste and cook for another 3 or 4 minutes. Stir in carrots, tomatoes, saffron, crushed red pepper, cinnamon, and ginger. Simmer, uncovered, for 5 minutes. Add the beans, salt, pepper, and 1 3/4 cups of water. Cover the pan and bring to a boil. Lower heat and simmer until carrots are tender, about 5 minutes.
Add the peas and spinach, and cook uncovered for another 2 minutes, just until the spinach is wilted.
Heat the additional oil in a small saucepan over medium-high heat. Add the couscous and stir until lightly browned, about 4 minutes.Meanwhile, bring 1 1/3 cups of water to a boil. Sprinkle salt over couscous. Pour water over couscous and cover. Let the couscous stand for 5 minutes, until the water is absorbed. Make the gremolata by combining the mint, parsley, garlic and lemon zest in a small bowl. Divide the stew evenly among 4 shallow bowls. Dish couscous into the center of each bowl (a half-cup measure works wonders). Sprinkle gremolata over each bowl of stew.

I finally got around to making my friend Carole’s favorite Smitten Kitchen casserole recipe this week. And I have no idea why I waited so long! It’s delicious and filling without being heavy or overly rich. The lemon zest kicks it up to a bright citrusy flavor that might make it outlast the winter season and make it into my summer rotation (possibly replacing my beloved ratatouille?).

smitten kitchen baked orzo with eggplant and mozzarella

Baked Orzo with Eggplant & Mozzarella
via smitten kitchen

1 large eggplant, cut into 3/4-inch dice
Salt and black pepper
1/4 cup (60 ml) olive oil
1 medium carrot, peeled and cut into 1/4-inch dice
1 celery stalk, in a 1/4-inch dice
1 medium onion, finely diced
3 garlic cloves, minced
8 ounces (225 grams) orzo, a rice-shaped pasta, rinsed
1 teaspoon (6 grams) tomato paste
1 1/2 cups (355 ml) vegetable stock
1 to 3 tablespoons fresh oregano, chopped
1 tablespoon grated lemon zest
4 ounces (115 grams) mozzarella, firmer is better here, cut into 1/3-inch dice
1 1/2 ounces (a generous 1/2 cup or 45 grams) parmesan, grated
3 medium tomatoes, diced

Preheat your oven to 350°F.
Sprinkle your eggplant generously with salt and let it drain in a colander for 30 minutes. I used this time to get the rest of my ingredients ready. After 30 minutes, rinse it well and pat it dry on towels.
Heat a large frying pan over medium-high heat. Once hot, add the oil and once the oil is shimmering, add the eggplant. Fry for 8 minutes, stirring pieces occasionally. Using a slotted spoon or spatula, transfer them to paper towels to drain.
Add celery and carrots to remaining oil and cook for 3 minutes before adding onion and garlic. Cook together for 5 more minutes on medium heat. Stir in the orzo and tomato paste and cook for two minutes more. Off the heat, add the oregano, mozzarella, parmesan, tomatoes, fried eggplant, lemon zest, 1 teaspoon table salt, many grinds of black pepper and the stock and mix well.
Transfer mixture to an 8×11-inch (about 2 quarts) ovenproof baking dish. Cover with foil and bake 20 minutes, then bake 20 minutes without the foil (you can increase the ration of foil-on to foil-off time if you don’t like a crunchy pasta lid). Let rest for 5 minutes before serving.

I had never made meatballs from scratch before. And I might never buy them from the store again. Homemade meatballs are amazing! We meant to make these in the slow cooker like it called for in the original recipe, but got started a little late and just ended up cooking them on the stove top. No matter, they were still utterly delicious. We served them over a tiny bit of pasta, but next time I might try a little polenta instead (the true Italian way, or so I’m told).

sunday meatballs

Italian Meatballs
adapted from design and dishes

For Meatballs
1.5 pounds lean ground turkey (or any mixture of ground beef or pork if you’re not counting calories)
1/4 cup whole wheat seasoned breadcrumbs
1/4 cup Reggiano Parmigiano cheese, grated
1/4 cup parsley, finely chopped
1 egg
1 large clove garlic, crushed
salt & freshly ground pepper to taste

For Sauce
1 teaspoon olive oil
4 cloves garlic, smashed
2 28 ounce cans crushed tomatoes
1 bay leaf
Salt and fresh pepper to taste
1/4 cup fresh chopped basil or parsley

In a large bowl, combine ground turkey, breadcrumbs, egg, parsley, garlic and cheese. Using hands, mix all the ingredients and form small meatballs, about 1/8 cup each (no more than 2 inches across). Set aside in the fridge for about a half hour.
In a medium sized pot, heat olive oil over medium heat. Add garlic and saute until golden, being careful not to burn. Add crushed tomatoes and bay leaf. Cook over medium-low heat for about 20 minutes. Drop meatballs into the sauce, cover and simmer about 25 minutes (or on low in the crock pot, for 4 to 6 hours). When meatballs are ready, adjust salt and pepper to taste and add fresh chopped basil or parsley. Serve over pasta or polenta.