Monday, January 11, 2010

RECIPE: Quick and Dirty Lasagna (vegetarian)

I'm deathly ill with a common cold.  All I have in my fridge is half a carton of riccotta cheese, a can of shredded parm, and some mozzarella.  I had a girl's night on Friday and made ziti in honor of The Jersey Shore and now I've got a bunch of leftover ingredients.  Tonight I don't have the patience for pots and pans or even boiling water.  I don't even want to wash out a mixing bowl.  I can't breathe out of my nose, the last thing I want to do is spend the night in the kitchen cooking.  So here's a quick and dirty lasagna I made only using only a small baking dish and two spatulas.  I want to warn you though, this isn't a recipe for the purists, just the lazy.

Quick and Dirty Lasagna
Serves 4-5

Depending on how large your baking dish may have to adjust the ingredients.  I used a small 8 x 8 baking dish

1 jar of spaghetti sauce (I told you this was not for the purist out there. I prefer Ragu's Margherita Pasta Sauce for this)
2 cups ricotta cheese
1 package of Meal Starters Morning Star Sausage Style crumbles (I DO NOT reccomend the "Grillers Recipe Crumbles") 
6ish no boil lasagna noodles
2 cups shredded mozzarella cheese
1/2 cup or so of Parmesan cheese

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Pour out enough sauce to cover the bottom of your pan.  Sprinkle half of veggie crumbles.  Spread evenly with a spatula  Lay on 3 no boil noodles, cut them with kitchen scissors if your pan is too small.  Layer on one cup of ricotta with a spatula.  Sprinkle on half of the parm and a handful of cheese.  Spread on another layer of sauce.  Then sprinkle on the rest of the crumbles.  Put on another layer of no boil noodles going the opposite way from the first.  Then the spread on the rest of the cheeses except for a handful of mozzarella,  the crumbles,  the rest of the sauce....then cover with the remaining mozzarella. Cover with foil and bake for an hour.  Not exactly anything from Vinnie or Pauly D's mom, but good enough for me....and I have leftovers for lunch and dinner for the next few days.

Sunday, January 3, 2010

RECIPE: Roasted Green Beans

PHOTO: Virginia Lee

They are not the prettiest, but if you give them a chance, you'll be surprised.  Roasting green beans brings out their natural sweetness and make them more interesting than just steaming.  The starches in the beans turn to sugar which makes them sweeter.  This side is great for entertaining because they taste great hot or at room temperature.

Roasted Green Beans
Serves 4

1 pound of fresh green beans, trimmed
Couple of glugs of olive oil
1/2 cup of chopped, toasted walnuts
1 red onion, halved and thinly sliced
Salt and pepper to taste

The Walnuts

Pre-heat oven to 350 degrees.  Spread walnuts on a single layer on a cookie sheet.  Bake for about 6-8 minutes..until the walnuts are fragrant and brown.  Keep an eye on them, they burn quick.  Remove from heat.  Can be made a few days ahead.  I store my nuts in the refrigerator as they are high in oil content. "Oil will spoil" so keeping nuts in the fridge will keep them fresh.  They can be stored in the freezer for up to 2 months.

The Green Beans

Bring oven to 400 degrees.  Toss green beans, sliced red onion, and a glug of olive oil to coat and spread on an even layer on a cookie sheet. Use two if needed.   Roast for 10 minutes.  Remove, toss with tongs, and add chopped walnuts.  Roast for another 10-15 minutes, or until they shrivel a bit and get dark green and brownish.  Season with salt and pepper.

Since oven temps vary, it may take you longer or shorter to cook the beans.  Just make sure the beans have shriveled a little and lost their bright green color.  They should have some brown spots (see pic).  I sometimes toss in a glug of balsamic vinegar during the last 5 minutes or so to enhance the sweetness of the beans.  Other variations would include adding chopped garlic or bacon.  This recipe also works well with French beans...just keep an eye on them because they do cook a little faster.