Trying something new with my site, in theory things should now be MUCH faster and hopefully posts/updates will stop disappearing. Today’s post is a healthier twist on my standard lazy night dinner, a recipe that started back in college as it is easily double and can be made on little to no sleep. Just requires some pasta, a leafy vegetable, and shredded cheese of some form! In college this normally meant thin spaghetti, frozen spinach with onions, and whatever fake stuff was on sale. Now that I have a bit more money, and still no time, I’ve been able to upgrade this recipe while reducing the sodium that goes along with fake cheese and fake (or canned) vegetables. It still comes together in under 30 minutes, so perfect for late nights after work or for a late lunch when the day is slipping away. As a bonus – it’s a green dish perfect for St. Patrick’s day!!!
I’m also sending this over to /r/52weeksofcooking for their hangover challenge as I’m fairly certain the first time I made this in college that was the case. This recipe is also a great way to clean out the fridge or freezer, and no need to stick to just one vegetable!
I’m not a fan of fall weather, even more so when it comes to the season after fall, but I am a fan of many of the vegetables that pop up during these chilly months. From the winter squashes, to the greens, to the delicious root vegetables – the fall is well stocked with delicious vegetables. Today’s treat features a number of those goodies, including some of the last of the produce from the Farmer’s Market at my office. Butternut Squash is a familiar vegetable in our house and it really seems to go with everything. In this case I added some swiss chard, baby kale, and some mashed pie pumpkin (thought the variety was called baby boy but that just resulted in lots of baby costumes) that was leftover from making the pumpkin chocolate chip cookies.
1 pack of lasagna noodles (ready to use or pre-cooked)
1 medium butternut squash, halved lengthwise
2 cloves garlic
1 tbsp butter, unsalted
1 cup mashed pumpkin
2 cups kale, chopped
1 cup spinach, chopped
1 cup swiss chard, chopped
1 1/3 cups favorite alfredo sauce
1 cup ricotta, divided
1 1/3 cup mozzarella, divided (shredded or fresh sliced)
1/2 cup Parmesan cheese, grated
Preheat oven to 425. Lightly oil a roasting pan and place butternut squash in roasting pan cut side down. Bake for 45 minutes. Flip squash in pan cut side up and use a melon spoon, or fork, to remove flesh to a blender. Add garlic and butter and puree until slightly smooth.
Turn oven down to 350
Line the bottom of a 9x9 pan with a 1/3 cup of the sauce and spread around, to include the sides of the pan. Place the first layer of noodles, trimming as needed to prevent overlap. Spoon 1/3 of the butternut squash and pumpkin purees on the noodle. Then top with a third of the greens, 1/3 cup of ricotta, and 1/3 of the Mozzarella. Spoon 1/3 cup of the sauce on top and spread evenly.
Add the next layer of noodles and repeat the layers, then top with the final layer - ending with noodles. Top with the last of the sauce, then the last of the mozzarella (1/3 cup) and the Parmesan cheese.
Bake at 350 for 40 minutes, the cheese should be a light golden brown on the edge and the cheese should be bubbling.
If using cubed butternut squash, reduce roasting time to 15 minutes and flip at halfway point.
For a GF variety, use brown rice lasagna noodles!
Lasagna will never be a healthy dinner option, and it’s not always the most budget-friendly option, but it will always be something delicious and hearty and fantastic. I figured that if I only make it a few times a year it’s not that bad…right??? I’m sending this recipe over to November’s Secret and in Season, which is being hosted by Katie of FeedingBoys and was founded by the awesome Ren. There are so many delicious fall recipes being linked up over there, I can’t wait to give them a whirl!!!
What to make for an 80s food challenge when I wasn’t eating food for the majority of the 80s…that was the question! Thankfully Google has come to the rescue again by providing all sorts of lists of popular 80s cuisines. After ruling out a number of dishes that would be beyond my skill set to convert to vegetarian living (meatloaf I’m looking at you), I decided to convert something that I had adjusted during my early vegetarian days. While I know that Hamburger Helper, and its friends Tuna and Chicken Helper, are far from healthy – they were easy to make and by switching the beef for mushrooms they were easy to vegetarianize. This time I decided to make one of my favorite helpers from those good ole days totally from scratch: Cheesy Pasta Helper. I debated making the pasta in one pot and mixing in to the sauce after the fact but after my one-pot pasta success last month I decided to do it again! This also made it much more authentic since one of the best things about Hamburger Helper is the ease of making it all in one pot.
1 cup "meat" crumble (I used Wegman's brand where's the beef crumbl)
2 14.5 oz cans no salt added diced tomatoes
1 bay leaf
spring fresh thyme
4 basil leaves, diced
2 cups small shell pasta (or similar)
1/2 cup water
1 cup baby spinach, coarsely torn
1/4 cup Parmesan cheese, finely grated
1/2 cup Mozzarella Cheese, coarsely grated
Heat the olive oil in a 14 inch saute pan that's at least 3 inches deep. Add the onion and garlic and cook for 5-7 minutes, or until lightly golden. Add the dried spices and continue cooking for 2 minutes, stirring well before adding the mushrooms and "meat". Cook for 7 minutes, or until the "meat" has started to brown - different substitutes will have different cook times!
Add the tomatoes along with the fresh spices and bring to a boil. Stir in the dried pasta along with the water and return to a boil.
Boil for 2 minutes, then turn heat to medium low and simmer for 10 minutes or until pasta is al dente. Stir in the spinach and cheese and allow to sit for a minute
This is totally not 1980s Hamburger Helper but it’s got all the ease of that one-box wonder without all the sodium and fat! Plus it can easily be veganized by switching in Diaya meltables, or cashew cheese, for the “real” stuff. Always an important thing to note, most cheeses are not vegetarian due to various enzymes so make sure to double check to avoid a less than pleasant surprise! Another quick note – when using GF pasta you might need to add up to a 1/4 cup of extra water in order to insure the pasta cooks all the way just be sure to only add 1 tbsp at a time to avoid watering down the sauce.
I’m finally back in the kitchen, and hoping to stay upright and cooking for at least the next week or so…but we shall see how that plan goes! I’ve been spending some of my down time going thru old cookbooks and recipe notes, keeping track of all the new things I want to try. That’s one of the best parts of spring, all the new produce showing up at the markets – and being in a new city that also means checking out new to me markets! The spinach in today’s recipe is one of those finds, as are some carrots that wound up going straight in to my belly via dip instead of soup – but that’s okay! The spinach turned the stuffing a fantastic spring green color, and it worked perfectly with the Italian sausage and the simple sauce – perfection
Cook the jumbo shells per box instructions - rinse with cold water and set aside.
Meanwhile heat the olive oil in a large skillet and cook the onion, garlic, and tofurkey sausage until brown. Place in blender along with the ricotta cheese, spinach, and herbs and puree well.
Preheat oven to 425. Lightly coat a 9x13 baking dish with 1/4 cup of your red sauce.
Use a teaspoon to gently stuff the shells and place them in a single layer in the baking dish, placing them as close together as possible to prevent them from tipping over. Cover with the remaining sauce, and top with the shredded cheese
Bake for 35 minutes, or until cheese has slightly browned and sauce is bubbling.
Allow to cool for 5 minutes before serving - Enjoy!
Normally I try to take a picture of the finished dish, but in this case the finished dish doesn’t look different from any other picture of stuffed shells. The stuffing would also work great inside of ravioli, or as part of a vegetable lasagna! This is a dish all about the filling, which is why I focused on that for my picture. I’m also sending this over to /52weeksofcooking for their soy challenge, and this will probably be the last soy dish on here for a bit since we are still on a low soy diet. However there’s nothing wrong with an occasional treat!
Ignoring the random snow we had yesterday (none of which stuck), I think it might be safe to say that spring is finally here! I am ready for the ground to thaw so that I can start clearing out all the old beds and start figuring out my plan for this year. As far as gardening goes this year is going to be a pot garden, since there is no established garden at our new place and I have no idea what areas of the yard will get the right amount sun – with the exception of the patio. The few flower beds in the front of the house are home to a few types of ivy, both poisonous and non, so odds are nothing new will get planted there until I know the nasty stuff is gone. However the first step is going at least a week without frozen precipitation. Today’s recipe is wishful thinking in that it features all the vegetables that I’m hoping to grow in my garden. From tomatoes to spinach to red onion – this cheesy treat is packing with the good stuff!
1/2 cup shredded cheese (for non-dairy be sure to use a "meltable" variety)
1/4 tsp cayenne powder
1/4 tsp ground cumin
1/2 tsp chili powder
2 garlic cloves, minced
4 10 inch tortillas
1/2 cup grape tomatoes, quartered
1/2 red onion, diced
1 cup pre-soaked black beans, well rinsed
1 jalapeno, sliced and deseeded (optional)
1 cup spinach, shredded (make sure it's super dry)
1 cup kale, shredded (make sure it's super dry)
In a medium bowl mix the shredded cheese/"cheese" with the cayenne powder, ground cumin, chili powder, and minced garlic. Set aside
Heat a medium skillet over medium heat. Place a tortilla on the skillet and cook for 2 minutes before flipping. Place 2 tbsp of cheese on the tortilla, then layer with half of the tomatoes, spinach, kale, onions, and black beans. Place another 2 tbsp of cheese then top with another tortilla. Use a panini press or smaller skillet to weigh down the top of the quesadilla.
Cook for 5-7 minutes, until lightly brown, and then gently (carefully!) flip to the other side. Repress the quesadilla and cook for a final 5-7 minutes.
Remove to a plate and allow to cool for 2 minutes before cutting up with a pizza slicer. Serve as is or with sour cream, salsa, and/or quacamole.
Avoid place two quasadillas in the same skillet as uneven cooking can result. For those of you with multi-tasking skills use two front burners to prepare two at a time!
I’ll always be a fan of dishes that allow for easy seasonal switches. Garden overflowing with zucchini? Toss them in! Growing three types of tomatoes? Add them all! I decided to stick with the spring greens but look forward to trying a summer variety in the coming months. With that in mind I’m sending this over to the amazing Ren and her Simple and in Season April blog challenge, which is being hosted by Michelle who blogs over at Utterly Scrumptious I can’t wait to see all the early Spring treats everyone will be sending in!!!