Lasagna with Zucchini

Lasagna is the quintessential comfort food.  And when you want comfort food, it doesn’t matter if it’s winter (the perfect weather for lasagna) or the start-up of summer.  Since I found this recipe in my June issue of Cooking Light, I felt it was the Food Gods way of telling me I need to make this.  Stat!  While midst of cooking, I realized it is the perfect remake of the perfect comfort food.  The zucchini and squash hold up well in place of Italian sausage or any other meat.  I found myself not even missing the meat.  Also, the sauce was not heavy, but so flavorful and rich.  The next day when I reheated for lunch, I did notice the zucchini and squash had a stronger flavor, but it still was very good and a meal that will make it to my rotation.  PS – This meal takes a LONG time to pull together, definitely keep for the weekend or when you have some additional time.

Ingredients:

2 Tbs olive oil
3 cups julienne-cut zucchini
2 cups julienne-cut yellow squash
1½ Tbs chopped fresh thyme
6 garlic cloves, thinly sliced (this is where I cheated, b/c I always have to cheat.  I used pre-chopped garlic)
¾ tsp kosher salt, divided
½ tsp freshly ground black pepper, divided
1 cup low-fat ricotta cheese
¼ cup water from fresh mozzarella container
4 oz fresh mozzarella cheese
2½ oz grated fresh Parmesan
1 (9 oz) package refrigerated fresh lasagna noodles (Our market did not carry this and I don’t care of the No Boil variety, that is until I found Delverde Ondine Instant Egg Lasagna.  Unlike our American brands, it did not take doughy or uncooked to me.  Certainly will use again and again!)
Cooking Spray

Preparation:

Preheat oven to 375°.

Heat large skillet over medium-high heat.  Add olive oil to pan and swirl to coat.  Add zucchini, squash, time, and garlic; sauté 5 minutes.  Stir in ½ tsp salt and ¼ tsp pepper.  Remove zucchini mixture from pan and cool.

Combine remaining ¼ tsp each of salt and pepper, ricotta, mozzarella water, and mozzarella in food processor or blender.  Pulse until smooth.  Combine ½ cup ricotta mixture and ½ cup Parmesan.

Coat 8″ baking dish with cooking spray; arrange 2 noodles, trimming to fit if needed.  Top with half of zucchini mixture and half of ricotta mixture.  Repeat layers, ending with noodles.  Top with the rocotta-Parmesan mixture.  Cover dish with foil and back for 30 minutes.  Uncover and bake additional 15 minutes.

Turn broiler to high.  Sprinkle lasagna with remaining 2 Tbs parmesan cheese.  Broil 2 minutes or until lightly browned.  Let stand for 5 minutes.

Wine Pairing Suggestions:

Barbera
Cabernet Franc
Malbec
Pinot Noir
Sangiovese

Serves 6
Hands-On time: 20 minutes; Total: 65 minutes

 Lasagna with Zucchini

 *Derived from Cooking Light

Caesar Salad & Pasta Primavera

I am so happy and beyond excited to be able to share my “Guest Blogger” with you today.  I’m going to have to do the typing for her because, well, she’s 5 1/2 and this would take all day.  My youngest foodie D wanted to take a cooking class that was being offered through her school, and I couldn’t think of any reason to say No.  I mean, my little angel girl loves cooking, like her mommy?!?!!  She has always been my little foodie, ready and willing to try anything.  She absolutely adores food and as soon as she finishes one meal, she is already thinking about the next.  On Sunday she was making cookies and I caught her talking lovingly to her dough.  Does it get any better?  I think it just might!  Yesterday was her first day of her cooking class and she came home buzzing with excitement from her class.  They got to eat their food in class, but she also brought a plate home to share with the family.  We all raised our hands in agreement that her food was “super yummy!”  I am pleased to share with you her results.

Caesar Salad

Ingredients:

3 medium heads romaine lettuce; chilled, dry, and crisp
1/3 cup garlic olive oil
2-3 Tbs wine vinegar
1 lemon – halved
2 One Minute coddled eggs
Salt to taste
Dash Worchester sauce
Freshly ground black pepper to taste
6 Tbs grated Parmesan cheese (can add more)
1 cup Caesar croutons

Preparation:

Bring a sauce pan of water to boil.  Gently add eggs and turn heat to low, set timer for 2 minutes.  Remove eggs with slotted spoon or wire mesh strainer.  Cool in cold water and set aside.

Into a chilled salad bowl, break romaine leaves into 2 inch widths.  Drizzle with garlic olive oil and vinegar.  Squeeze juice from lemon over the top.  Break coddled eggs over lettuce, toss many times to ensure everything is thoroughly mixed.  Season with salt, pepper, and Worchester sauce.  Sprinkle with parmesan cheese.  Toss six or seven times until dressing is well combined and every leaf is coated.  Add croutons.  Serve immediately.

Pasta Primavera

Ingredients:

1 lb Italian style spaghetti
1 cup thinly sliced zucchini
1 ½ cup snow peas (can use frozen)
1 cup baby peas (can use frozen)
6 asparagus sliced in 1″ pieces
1 cup sliced mushrooms
1 (16 oz) can peeled tomatoes, drained and chopped
3 Tbs olive oil
Salt and pepper to taste
¼ cup chopped fresh parsley (can sub 1/8 cup if using dried)
2 tsp minced garlic
½ cup freshly grated parmesan
¹⁄³ cup butter
1 cup heavy cream (can sub low-fat milk)
¹⁄³ cup fresh, chopped basil

Preparation:

Cook pasta in large pot boiling water.

Briefly cook the green vegetables and mushrooms in water (or steam).  When crisp tender, refresh by running under cold water.  In large frying pan heated to medium, sauté tomatoes and parsley in olive oil.  Add all of the vegetables and simmer until heated through.

Add cooked pasta, cheese, cream, butter, and basil.  Toss to coat.  Add salt and pepper to taste.

Serve hot, with chilled Caesar salad.

Wine Pairing Suggestions:

Fume Blanc
Grüner Veltliner
Muscadet
Sauvignon Blanc

Both recipes serve 6

Caesar Salad & Pasta Primavera

Caesar Salad & Pasta Primavera


Vegetable and Rice Burritos

I thought my favorite Disney movie was The Incredibles.  I loved everything about that movie.  The family sticking together, using their super powers to save the day.  Relying on old friends to thwart the mortal enemy, Syndrome.  My favorite character is Edna ‘E’ Mode.  I aspire to be her when I grow up (shhh, no one tell me I’m grown up).  And then, a few years later (3 to be exact, but who’s counting) I happened upon Ratatouille.  I felt like I could connect, no sillies, not from Remy’s perspective (ok, maybe a teensy bit).  I was almost broken-hearted when Linguine sends Remy away because he was caught between friend and family by allowing his family to raid the pantry.  But I digress.  This dish reminded me of Ratatouille as I was making it.  All of the vegetables, but some savory ingredients, too.  Basically, take vegetables and turn them into something everyone would want to eat.  Which brings me to this latest dish.  The best way to describe it is as ratatouille enveloped in a tortilla. What is that you say? Yes, a tortilla. And what is not to love about anything in a tortilla. Make Remy proud and use up vegetables that you have on hand. Oh, and as a side note, my affair with the rice cooker continues. I often stop and day-dream about what life was like before this perfectly perfect appliance debuted in my life. And you know what? I can’t remember.

Ingredients:

4 tsp canola oil, divided
1/3 cup uncooked long-grain white rice
1 tsp minced garlic , divided
2/3 cup water
1/4 tsp salt, divided
1/4 cup reduced-fat sour cream
1 Tbs chopped cilantro
1/8 tsp ground red pepper
1 cup chopped onion
1 cup sliced cremini mushrooms
1/2 cup fresh corn kernels (I used frozen)
1 small zucchini, halved lengthwise and sliced
1 red bell pepper, diced
3/4 cup halved grape tomatoes
4 flour tortillas
1 cup shredded quesadilla cheese (can sub Monterey jack)

Preparation:

Heat 1 tsp oil in rice cooker.  Add rice and 1/2 tsp garlic; sauté for 1 minute, stirring constantly.  Add 2/3 cup water and 1/8 tsp salt.  Cover and let rice cooker do it’s thing.

Heat a large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat.  Add 1 Tbs oil to pan; swirl to coat.  Add onion; sauté 2  minutes, stirring frequently.  Add remaining 1/2 tsp garlic and mushrooms; sauté 1 minute, stirring frequently.  Add corn and zucchini; sauté 2 minutes, stirring frequently.  Add remaining 1/8 tsp salt and tomatoes; sauté 30 seconds or until tomatoes are thoroughly heated.  Remove vegetable mixture from pan.  Wipe pan clean with a paper towel.

Heat tortillas in same skillet.  Divide sour cream evenly among warmed tortillas; spread to a thin layer.  TOp each tortilla with 1/4 cup of cheese; about 1/4 cup rice mixture, and about 1/2 cup vegetable mixture.  Sprinkle each with cilantro.  Roll up each, tight.  Serve immediately.

Wine Paring Suggestions:

Sauvignon Blanc
Albariño
Alvarinho
Fume Blanc
Sancerre
(Or you can have a Corona like my husband did)

003

Serves 4
Hands-on time: 40 min; Total time: 40 min

*Derived from Cooking Light

Risotto with Beans and Vegetables

Oops I did it again! I played with your heart . . . Oh wait,wrong sentiment. Well, a little. I did do it again, I made a wonderful risotto in the rice cooker!  It’s almost daily now that I am looking at the rice cooker and thinking, “Hmmm. . . ”  I wonder if I stuff some laundry in there it will magically be cleaned and folded.  Oh, oh, oh!  I’ve got it!  Can I shove my computer in their and all of my scopes of work and subcontractor matrices come out DONE!!  Bim Bam!  Because that’s how I am viewing my wonderful little rice cooker now, it’s this magical little pot.  I’m not sure how it does what it does.  I don’t even care.  Just as long as it keeps bubbling away and turning out amazing food.  (The laundry would help, too, though.)

Ingredients:

3 cups vegetable broth
2 cups sliced fresh mushrooms (I bought presliced cremini)
1 medium onion, chopped
2 garlic cloves, minced
2 Tbs olive oil
1 cup arborio rice
1 cup finally chopped zucchini
1 cup finely chopped carrots
1 15 oz can low sodium cannellini, pinto, or black beans; rinsed and drained
1/2 cup finely shredded Parmesan cheese (plus about a handful more for topping when ready to serve)

Rice Cooker Preparation:

Turn rice cooker on, once it’s heated add 2 Tbs olive oil, mushrooms, onion, and garlic.  Cook for about 5 minutes or until onion is tender.  Add uncooked rice.  Cook and stir about 5 more minutes or until rice is golden brown.  Add 3 cups of broth, zucchini and carrots, stir to combine all ingredients.  Cover and let cook for about 20 minutes, stirring occasionally.  After 20 minutes, rice should be slightly creamy and just tender.  Stir in beans and Parmesan cheese; cover and heat through.  Sprinkle with additional cheese for serving.

Non-Rice Cooker Preparation:

In medium sauce pan bring broth to boil.  Reduce heat; simmer until needed.  Meanwhile, in a large saucepan cook mushrooms, onion, and garlic in hot oil over medium heat for about 5 minutes or until onion is tender.  Add uncooked rice.  Cook and stir for about 5 minutes or until rice is golden brown.

Slowly add 1 cup of broth to rice mixture, stirring constantly.  Continue to cook and stir until liquid is absorbed.  Add another 1/2 cup of broth, zucchini, and carrots to rice mixture, stirring constantly.  Continue to cook and stir until liquid is absorbed.  Add another 1 cup broth, 1/2 cup at a time, stirring constantly until broth is absorbed. (THis should take about 20 minutes).

Stir remaining 1/2 cup broth into rice mixture.  Cook and stir until rice is slightly creamy and just tender.  Stir in beans and Parmesan cheese; heat through.  Sprinkle with additional cheese for serving.

Wine Pairing Suggestions:

White Burgundy,
Chardonnay,
Nebbiolo,
Pinot Noir,
Sangiovese,
Sauvignon Blanc

Serves 4
Prep time: 20 minutes; Cook time: 30 minutes

photo (3)

*Derived from BHG

Pork & Parmesan

I think I might have mentioned before that I struggle with pork.  I struggle cooking it and it not being too dry.  I struggle with finding recipes that I even want to try.  And I don’t know why that is.  The pork dishes I have made turned out positively lovely, and this is one of them!  Certainly adding it to my rotation.

Ingredients:

1 lb pork tenderloin
2 Tbs Italian bread crumbs
2 Tbs grated Parmesan cheese
1 tsp salt
1/8 tsp pepper
2 tsp olive oil
1 small onion, thinly sliced
1 minced clove garlic
1 small zucchini, thinly sliced
1 small summer squash, thinly sliced

Preparation:

Cut tenderloin crosswise into 12 slices (I think I might have cut more than that, I just cut the whole thing), approximately 3/4″ thick.  Place cut tenderloin flat in large ziplock back, gently pound to 1/2″ thickness.  Once all pork has been flattened and removed, combine bread crumbs, Parmesan cheese, salt and pepper in same ziplock bag.  Add pork in batches and shake to coat.  Heat olive oil over medium-high heat in nonstick pan.  Saute pork 2-3 minutes per side; remove and keep warm.  Add onion, garlic, squash and zucchini  to skillet and saute 5 minutes or  until tender.  Serve with warm buttered, crusty bread.

Serves 4

Total time: 30 minutes

photo

*Derived from National Pork Board

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