Meatless Monday: Broccoli Lasagna

We’ve hit the part of winter when I just want deep, heavy, rich comfort food all the time. Chicago has this terrible sweet spot at this point in the season when it’s just grey all the time. Like, grey-grey. And indulgent comfort food seems like the only proper response. Except that, sigh, it’s not (isn’t it?).

This lasagna kind of turned out to be the best of both worlds. It’s lasagna, and if that’s not comforting, I don’t know what is. But it’s fresh and much lighter than a traditional lasagna, so you can feel better about the third and fourth helpings you’re definitely going to want. Here you go.

WHAT YOU NEED
* 15oz package part-skim ricotta cheese
* 1 egg
* 1t salt
* 1/2t ground black pepper
* 1T oregano
* 1 small head broccoli, broken down into tiny florets
* precooked lasagna noodles
* 1 jar your favorite marinara sauce
* 1 8oz package shredded cheese (mozzarella or an Italian blend)
* garlic powder

WHAT TO DO
Preheat the oven to 350F.

In a bowl, mix together the ricotta, egg, salt, pepper, oregano, and broccoli florets.

Spoon a bit of the marinara sauce into the bottom of an 8X11 to just cover the bottom.

Place a layer of noodles over the sauce. Spoon half of the ricotta mixture into a layer over the noodles. Pour half the marinara sauce over the mixture. Sprinkle garlic powder generously over the sauce, and then add half of the cheese on top. Repeat.

Bake in the preheated oven, uncovered, until the cheese melts and begins to brown, 30-49 minutes or so. Allow to sit/cool for 10-15 minutes before serving.

Meatless Monday: Cauliflower Farro Bake

I’ve been collecting farro recipe ideas since I discovered this wonderful ancient grain. It’s got loads of heath benefits, it’s hearty and filling, and it’s got a lovely nuttiness that makes it great on its own or with other ingredients. I found this lovely idea over on the wonderful Smells Like Home blog, and her recipe was adapted from another fan favorite blogger, Smitten Kitchen‘s pasta version. I’ve been cooking a lot of mushrooms lately, so I adapted it myself, using the basic recipe as a jumping off point. And if ONE PAN MAGIC + Kid-FRIENDLY + NO LEFTOVERS isn’t a selling point, I don’t know what to tell ya! Here you go.

WHAT YOU NEED
* ½ cup dry farro
* olive oil
* 1 small cauliflower, broken down into small florets
* 1 small sweet onion, chopped
* 2t minced garlic
* salt
* freshly ground black pepper
* 1/4C cooking sherry
* 2T unsalted butter
* 3T flour
* 1 1/2C vegetable broth (chicken broth us fine, too)
* a few sprigs fresh rosemary
* 1/2C grated Parmesan cheese
* 4 oz mozzarella, cubed small
* handful thinly sliced fresh basil
* crushed red pepper flakes, optional

WHAT TO DO
Preheat oven to 400 F.

Heat a few glugs of oil in a large oven-safe skillet over medium-high heat. Add the cauliflower and cook until the florets begin to soften amd brown. Add the onions an garlic, and season to taste with salt and pepper, then cook until the onions soften and become somewhat translucent.

Add in the sherry to the pan and stir to scrape any bits up from the bottom of the pan. Reduce heat to medium-low and simmer for about 1 minute. Add the butter, and when it’s melted, sprinkle the flour over the pan and stir it in so everything gets a little coat. Add the broth slowly, stirring as you go, then add in the rosemary.

Simmer 2-4 minutes, stirring frequently, until the sauce begins to thicken. Remove from heat and stir in the farro and cheeses.

Bake for 30-40 minutes, until the edges are bubbly. Remove the rosemary sprigs and sprinkle with the fresh-cut basil. serve immediately with a pinch of crushed red pepper flakes.

Sweet Potato and Broccoli Frittata

My grandma loved a frittata. When I was a kid, whenever I stayed over with my grandparents for a few days, Grandma and I always went out for a special lunch together. We’d go to a cute little diner and follow it up with either a movie or shopping and I loved it so much. I always ordered an egg salad sandwich and Grandma always ordered a frittata. Always. So there’s a special place in my heart for frittatas, by it wasn’t until recently that I’d actually made one myself. I think I reserved frittatas for dining out because of the memory. But I’ve gotten over it and now I love the idea of bribing that memory home.

This frittata is easy, healthy, and works great for any meal. Here you go.

WHAT YOU NEED
* 2T olive oil
* 3t minced garlic
* 1t dried thyme
* 1 average sized head of broccoli cut down into small florets (about 2C worth)
* 1 large sweet potato, peeled and chopped into ~1/2-inch chunks
* 8 eggs
* 1/2t salt
* 1/4t ground black pepper
* 1/4C shredded mozzarella cheese
* 1/4C shredded cheddar cheese

WHAT TO DO
Heat a tablespoon of olive oil over medium heat in a large, 8-10-inch oven-safe pan. Add the garlic and thyme, and stir about a minute to release the aromatics. Add the sweet potatoes and broccoli and cook about 15 minutes, until the potatoes are softened and cooked through. Stir frequently to ensure the veggies dont stick. Add just a bit more oil if this starts to happen. Turn off the heat.

In a large bowl, whisk the eggs and then add the salt, pepper, cheese, and the contents from the pan–the broccoli, sweet potato, garlic, thyme).

Heat a tablespoon of olive oil in the same pan over medium heat. Pour in the egg mixture. As the bottom of the frittata cooks and begins to solidify, lift the edges with a spatula to let the liquid eggs run underneath. Turn the heat to low and cover the pan. Cook about 10 minutes, until the frittata is nearly set except for the top.

Turn the broiler on high. Remove the lid from the pan and place the pan under the broiler. Cook until light golden brown on top, no more than 5 minutes. Watch carefully–you don’t want a dry or burned frittata!

Let the frittata cool for 5 minutes before serving.

Perfectly Simple and Simply Perfect Italian Meatballs

My Tiny Sous Chef has been getting more involved in meal planning lately and has asked to choose one meal per week. This week she asked for “meatballs made with meat (meat = beef) and salad.” Since she asked for it in such a straightforward way, I thought we’d go basic and straightforward without frills on the meatballs.

A few years ago Food Network Magazine did a special feature on meatballs. It had all kinds of variations and how to prepare them if you want to bake them vs fry them vs broil them, etc. the basic foundations recipe for each style included in the feature have become the basics for all of my meatball creations. This recipe is adapted from the Italian meatball basic recipe in that feature. It’s simple, easy, and fool-proof perfection. It will not fail you. Here you go.

WHAT YOU NEED
makes about 24 1.5-in meatballs
* 1 1/2-1 3/4lbs lean ground beef
* 3/4C grated Parmesan cheese
* 3/8C Italian seasoned breadcrumbs
* 3/8C milk
* 3/8C fresh parsley, chopped
* 3t minced garlic
* 1 1/2t kosher salt
* 2 eggs

WHAT TO DO
Preheat the oven to 425F. Lightly spray a large baking sheet with nonstick spray.

Mix all of the ingredients in a large bowl by hand until combined. Form the mixture into balls, about 1.5-2 inches each. Place the meatballs on the prepared baking sheet and bake for 15 minutes.

Remove the pan from the oven and transfer to a large pot. Add your favorite store bought or homemade tomato sauce and simmer on low for about 10 minutes until the sauce is warmed through. Serve over pasta or rice or your favorite veggie noodles, in a sub roll, over a salad, or just as-is.