No-Noodle Lasagna

No-Noodle Lasagna

The first lasagna recipe I published on this blog called for twenty ingredients. TWENTY! That is not a typo. (I'm embarrassed to even link to that recipe, oh how much I've learned since 2015!)

Lasagna is one of those things that just has a lot of components, but I was on a mission with this one: Simplify. Because some weeks, even just having twenty ingredients on your shopping list is stressful. Right??

This version has less than half that number of ingredients. That said, it still needs to bake for 50 minutes, so if you are trying to serve this on a weeknight, doing all the prep ahead of time will help you out.

No-Noodle Lasagna
No-Noodle Lasagna

This one is about the essentials:

  • A good marinara sauce. I used store bought, but you can also use this 20-minute recipe. I'm all for homemade but some times you have to cut yourself a break! 
  • Ricotta cheese. Any excuse to use ricotta cheese is welcome, if you ask me. But it's also the creamy layer in lasagna, and arguably the best part. 
  • Mozzarella! You might be thinking, two different kinds of cheese? Yes! (And a third, if you keep reading). Mozzarella adds the gooey, stringy cheese texture to the top of the casserole. And that third cheese? Parmesan, which I mostly added for good measure, and also it's flavor.
  • Meat. In this case, Italian Sausage. I love the flavor of hot Italian sausage, but you could easily use ground beef if you prefer. Many chefs choose to mix the two, in fact, but again simple was the name of the game here.
  • Noodles -- but in this case, actually eggplant sliced thin and used in place of noodles. Eggplant goes so well with lasagna flavors. Bring on the veggies!

What is not essential to lasagna is the spinach layer, but I added it in because if I'm going to be cooking a lasagna, I may as well cover all of my bases instead of also making a side salad. 

No-Noodle Lasagna
No-Noodle Lasagna

No-Noodle Lasagna

Published July 12, 2018 by
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Serves: 8   |    Active Time: 90 minutes



Ingredients:

  • 1-1/2 cups marinara sauce (choose one that has basil or garlic, or make your own )
  • 1-2 eggplants (1 large or 2 medium)
  • 16 ounces ricotta
  • 16 ounces hot Italian sausage, ground
  • 10 ounces frozen chopped spinach, thawed
  • 1-1/2 cups shredded mozzarella
  • 1/2 cup shredded parmesan, plus more for serving
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • Optional: minced parsley for garnish

  • Directions:

    1. Preheat oven to 450°F, and slice eggplants in thin, long strips — about 1/4-inch thick. Spread slices out in a single layer on a sheet pan, and brush with olive oil. Place in oven and roast for 20 minutes, until eggplant begins to soften.
    2. Meanwhile, brown sausage in a skillet over medium heat. Once cooked, set aside.
    3. Place thawed spinach in a strainer, and squeeze out as much extra water as possible.
    4. Make the lasagna: spread 1/2 cup sauce in the bottom of a 9x16-inch baking dish. Arrange half of the eggplant strips as “noodles” in a single layer. Spread ricotta cheese over eggplant, and then top with sausage crumbles. Next, spread the spinach in a layer. Spread 1/2 cup sauce over top, and then layer the remaining eggplant in a second layer. Top with another 1/2 cup of sauce, and then top with shredded mozzarella and 1/2 cup parmesan.
    5. Reduce oven temperature to 375°F, and bake lasagna covered for 25 minutes, and then uncovered for 25 minutes.
    6. Allow to cool for 10 minutes, and then top with minced parsley. Slice and serve. Top with parmesan if desired.

    One Pan Paleo Chicken Cacciatore

    Camera Update: I got my new camera in mail yesterday! I’m over the moon. I’ll be returning to the regular posting scheduling shortly, now what I can shoot! 

    Now... on to this delicious dish! 

    I’ve been on a re-working streak: revisiting old favorites from the blog and taking new pictures (like this Chicken & Sweet Potato Curry, or this Lemony Garden Vegetable & Chicken Soup). It takes some of the mind-work out of the equation, leaving me to only do the creative pieces: photography, a bit of writing, quite a lot of eating. 

    This one-pan chicken cacciatore is one of those revisited recipes. I originally made this recipe when I was in the middle of finals for grad school. It feels like a lifetime ago. At the time, exams, essays, and textbooks took up such a large part of my life it was hard to believe it could be any other way. In retrospect that was a short lived moment in my journey, one that I even forget about most of the time. All the better, as my experience with grad school was unremarkable. 

    One Pan Paleo Chicken Cacciatore

    When I first published this recipe I had said, "I need meals that are simple, quick, and take a minimal amount of brain work.” But I was also looking for ways to express myself creatively, something multiple choice tests didn’t allow. It's that creative need that comes through in this recipe, inspired by a single night out at Pasta Jay’s on Pearl Street. 

    I remember—not the exact dish I had eaten at Pasta Jay’s- but the thoughts that ran through my head when I ate the leftovers out of a cardboard to-go box the next day. The dish awed me, to be honest. I had never had anything but pasta-laden dishes from Italian restaurants before (to be expected), but this dish had no pasta, and was the best thing I’d eaten that month. 

    I ate that meal in 2011 and originally wrote up this recipe in 2015. It’s now been 7 years, and that first introduction to cacciatore stays with me.

    Making cacciatore is a bit of a production: if you really want to impress people, you’ll need to get fresh basil, and there are a few things you’ll need to chop. Oh, but it’s worth it. Since I’m usually making this on a weeknight, after running errands or getting a workout in, I try to chop everything ahead of time (in the morning, or the night before). I’ll even measure out the spices and put them in a bowl, so that when evening rolls around I don’t even have to think. Just put things in the pot (I use a blue Le Creuset Braiser for meals like this (affiliate link!)) and remember to stir occasionally! 

    One Pan Paleo Chicken Cacciatore

    One Pan Paleo Chicken Cacciatore

    Published February 27, 2018 by
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    Serves: 4   |    Total Time: 60 minutes



    Ingredients:

    • 1 pound bone-in chicken thighs (boneless and skinless is fine too, just reduce cooking time - cook thighs until internal temperature reaches 185°F)
    • 1 teaspoon coconut oil
    • 1/2 medium white onion, sliced
    • 3 cloves garlic, minced
    • 2 bell peppers, sliced in strips (choose a variety of colors: yellow, red, or green)
    • 1/4 cup red wine, such a Pinot Noir or Sirah
    • 2 14.5-ounce cans of crushed tomatoes
    • 1/2 cup canned artichoke hearts, drained and quartered 
    • 1 teaspoon balsamic vinegar
    • 1/4 cup fresh basil leaves, sliced chiffonade style style, plus more for garnish
    • 1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes 
    • 1/2 teaspoon dried oregano 
    • 1/2 teaspoon dried thyme 
    • 1/4 teaspoon salt
    • 1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper
    • Optional for serving: grated Parmesan Reggiano cheese, red pepper flakes, extra basil leaves

    Directions:

    1. Heat the coconut oil over medium-high heat in a large skillet (I use my 5-qt Le Creuset Braiser (affiliate link!), though a 13 to 15 inch skillet would work as well). Once the oil glistens, place chicken thighs skin-side down in the pan. Sear the chicken for 3 minutes, then flip them over and continue to cook chicken for 5 more minutes.
    2. After 5 minutes, place the onions, garlic, and peppers in pan. Cook, stirring occasionally, until the onions are translucent. Add the wine, and scrape the pan with a wooden spoon. Bring to a simmer.
    3. Pour in the tomatoes, and stir in the artichoke hearts, balsamic vinegar, basil, thyme, red pepper flakes, oregano, salt and pepper.
    4. Bring back up to simmer, and place lid on pan. Cook, for 20-30 more minutes, until an instant read thermometer reads 185°F when inserted into the center of the thickest thigh.
    5. Remove from heat, and serve on plates or in bowls. Garnish with grated parmesan, red pepper flakes, and/or extra basil.
    6. Tip: try serving this over spiralized zucchini or spaghetti squash for a grain-free pasta option.

    Easy Food Processor Pesto

    After posting my eleventh recipe that called for pesto to this blog (Pesto Zoodles with Fresh Peas and Bacon), I decided it was high time I actually post a recipe for pesto itself. Watch below or click here to watch the recipe video! Scroll past the video for some images and the full recipe. 

    Pesto is a glorious, glorious thing. Ancient Romans were on to something when they started mashing herbs with garlic, cheese and oil. Can you imagine being the chef to first pull out your moral and pestle, fill it with herbs and nuts, only to yield a greenish glop that looks unlike any other sauce you'd seen? And then the first bite! What do you think they thought?

    Easy Food Processor Pesto

    Of course, times have since changed dramatically. Basil wasn't the star of pesto sauce until 1863 (according to Wiki), and wasn't even popular in the US until the 1980s and 1990s. Which, I suppose, explains a lot: as a 90s kid, I was set up to love pesto from the beginning. And now here I am, making pesto in a food processor. (Many will tell you this is not the traditional way, and they are right: in ancient Rome they didn't have food processors... or electricity. This food processor method is the 21st century way. I've made many a batch of pesto in a mortar and pestle, but for a big batch, I always go for the food processor). 

    When I have a fresh batch of pesto in the fridge, I fearless add it to every meal. A condiment for potatoes (a sauce for sweet potatoes, or just a dip for some roasted yukon golds). The creamy base for this chicken dish. Shmeared inside of a cheesy omelette. I even put the stuff straight on steamed broccoli, or stir a tablespoon of pesto with a tablespoon of lemon juice to make a vinaigrette. You get the picture. 

    Easy Food Processor Pesto
    Easy Food Processor Pesto

    Easy Food Processor Pesto

    Published July 11, 2017 by
       |     Print This Recipe

    Serves: 4   |    Total Time: 10 minutes



    Ingredients:

    • 2 cloves garlic
    • 1 pinch sea salt
    • 1/4 cup pine nuts
    • 1/2 cup parmesan
    • 1 teaspoon lemon zest
    • 2 cups basil
    • 1/2 cup olive oil

    Directions:

    1. Pulse garlic in food processor with salt until minced.
    2. Add pine nuts to food processor, and pulse three times. Add parmesan and lemon zest to food processor, and pulse until a meal forms.
    3. Add basil and oil to the food processor and pulse until the basil and minced evenly. Scrape the sides with a spatula and pulse again briefly.
    4. Store in an air-tight container in the fridge until ready to use. Will last up to 1 week in the fridge.

    FOR NUT-FREE: Substitute 1/4 cup sunflower seeds for 1/4 cup pine nuts.

    FOR DAIRY-FREE: Substitute 2 tablespoons nutritional yeast for 1/2 cup parmesan.

    Easy Food Processor Pesto