Tag Archives: sauce

Sneaky Tofu Lasagne

tofu lasagne 3

Awhile ago, I did a post on our favorite lasagne done several ways.  Well, I found another way to vary it and still keep it vegetarian!

Our dear friends came over for dinner over the weekend, and I needed to make something FAST that would serve eight people, AND be something kids would probably like.  While I was making it, I felt like it needed more substance.  But I didn’t have time to grill vegetables, and I didn’t know if my friend’s kids would like it with vegetables anyway.  I thought of adding more cheese, but there is a lot in it as is.  I remember reading about combining ricotta with tofu on The Kitchn blog, so I thought I would try it.   I doubled my sauce recipe and added onion to it.  Then I made the lasagne with a mixture of fresh mozzarella and smoky mozzarella and parmesan as I always do.

You can see the ricotta and tofu mixture here.

You can see the ricotta and tofu mixture here.

Roasted zucchini and eggplant were served on the side, so people could have the veggies if they wanted it.  The lasagne was really delicious!  I’m happy to say, adults and kids had seconds, and no one was the wiser! 🙂

tofu lassagne 2

Sneaky Lasagne

2 teaspoons olive oil

1 small onion, chopped

2 cloves of garlic, pressed through a garlic press or smashed

2 28-ounce can crushed tomatoes (or whole pureed)

1 teaspoon dried basil

1 teaspoon dried oregano

kosher salt

2 teaspoons sugar (optional)

1 box of lasagne noodles (1 lb.)

1 container of ricotta cheese (16 oz.)

1/2 block of tofu (I used firm, but any would do)

8 oz. smoky mozzarella, grated

8 oz. plain mozzarella, grated

1/4 cup grated parmesan cheese

1.  Preheat oven to 375 degrees.

2.  Mix grated mozzarella cheeses together in a bowl and set aside.  Mix ricotta and tofu together with hands in another bowl.  Set aside

3.  Saute onions in oil until soft.  Add garlic and saute for about a minute — do not burn!

4.  Add tomatoes, herbs, 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt, and sugar if desired.  Simmer 20 minutes uncovered over medium low heat.

5.  Meanwhile soak noodles in boiling water in 2  9-inch by 13-inch baking dishes, covering by about 1/2-inch.  Stir occasionally to keep pasta from sticking.

6.  Assemble lasagne in each pan in this general order:

1 cup sauce, pasta, 1/6 of the ricotta mixture spread on top, 1/2 cup of the mozzarella mixture, a spoonful or so of the parmesan.  Then pasta, 1/6 ricotta mixture spread on top, some sauce, 1/2 cup of the mozzarella mixture, and a spoonful of parmesan.  The last layer is pasta, 1/6 ricotta mixture, some sauce.  Leave about 1 cup of mozzarella mixture to cover both pans later.  You will have extra sauce leftover.  Heat and serve later with meal.

7.  Cover with foil and bake for 30 minutes.  Uncover and top with remaining mozzarella and spoonful of so of parmesan and bake for another 5- 10 minutes.  Serve with extra sauce at the table.


Filed under Children, Dinner, Pasta, Vegetarian

Salisbury Steak with Mushroom Gravy

steak 1

Sorry for the absence — I was in Oregon last week!  More on that in a future post…

I had planned on posting this before I left, but alas, packing was a priority.  I am going to date myself, but I have vivid memories of eating Swanson’s TV frozen dinners during my childhood.  Not often, mind you– maybe only a handful of times.  Perhaps the rarity is part of why these occasions stick out in my mind.  My favorite frozen dinner was the Salisbury Steak.  It came with mashed potatoes and green beans, and I think a little (overly sweetened) fruit pie too, but I might be making this part up…  I loved that each item was in its own compartment in the aluminum tray dish.  The whole experience was tinged with fantasy:  We could pretend we were on an airplane eating a meal (yes, in those days, even in economy, meals were served on planes with silverware!)  And it looked like pretend food.  I know I had plastic doll food that was “served” in a similar type of divided plate.  And the “steak” wasn’t steak at all, but gooey meat product shaped into an oblong oval.  The TV dinner eating experience was, for my 7-year old self, the epitome of gastronomical excitement and comfort.

I added mushrooms for more flavor -- the TV dinners didn't have them if I remember correctly...

I added mushrooms for more flavor — the TV dinners didn’t have them if I remember correctly…

Flash forward some decades later.  I’m a mom now, and frozen dinners have never made an appearance on our dinner table.  I’m not against them — they seem to be healthier these days.  I just don’t care to spend the money, I like to cook, and I think I know my adult experience of them just wouldn’t be the same.  I had a hankering for Salisbury Steak a couple weeks ago though, so I decided to make it instead.

I researched several recipes online, and used bits and pieces of them to create my own.  I added mushrooms to the gravy and served the steak with mashed potatoes and green beans.  Jamie loved it– but I felt a pang of wistfulness that I couldn’t give him the same “magical” experience I remember… In fact, he said he’d prefer the Salisbury Steak and gravy with white rice instead — not something one would ever find in the frozen food section here in the U.S.

I, on the other hand, swooned over the flavors and textures that  brought me back to my childhood.

steak with potatoes

Salisbury Steak with Mushroom Gravy

1/2 cup minced onion, divided

1/4 teaspoon salt

2 garlic cloves, minced

1/4 cup bread crumbs or panko

2 teaspoons ketchup

3 dashes Worcestershire sauce

1 pound ground sirloin

2 teaspoons olive oil

4 teaspoons butter, divided

8 ounces cremini mushrooms, sliced

13 oz. beef broth, about 1 1/2 cups)

1 tablespoon all-purpose flour

1 teaspoon red wine vinegar

1.  Combine 1/3 cup onion, salt, garlic, bread crumbs, ketchup, Worcestershire sauce, and beef.  Shape into 4 (1/2-inch-thick) oval patties.  Heat a skillet over medium-high heat.  Add oil and 1 teaspoon of butter.  When butter is melted, swirl to coat  pan.  Add patties.  Cook 3 minutes on each side or until browned.  Remove to plate and set aside.

2.  Melt remaining butter in pan.  Add mushrooms and rest of onions; saute 4 minutes.  Sprinkle flour on top and stir continuously to brown flour a bit.  Slowly add  broth to pan while whisking and bring to a boil.  Cook 5 minutes or until thick.  Add patties and vinegar to pan; cook 2 minutes to heat through.


Filed under Beef, Dinner

Passover Pizza

Passover ends Friday at sundown, but this dish is so good, you can serve it all year round (which I plan to do)!  It’s also a great way to incorporate more veggies into your diet.  Even my son loves it.

I’d seen similar versions in the blogsphere and liked this one by Mollie Katzen.  I adapted it for Passover, substituting matzo meal for the flour.  I also omitted the 2 tablespoons of olive oil (admittedly by accident!) and did not miss it.   Instead of a greased pizza pan, I used a piece of parchment on a hot pizza stone which I heated in the oven while said oven was preheating.  Our toppings were homemade tomato sauce (sautéed garlic in olive oil simmered with a can of puréed tomatoes, dried basil, oregano, salt and a pinch of sugar), leftover grilled eggplant, chopped artichoke hearts, smoky and plain mozzarella, and turkey sausage.  Obviously you can top with anything you want!

Although the crust gets crispy but we found it easiest to eat with a fork and knife.

Passover Pizza adapted from Mollie Katzen

2 medium zucchini, shredded (about 2-3 cups, packed)

1 egg and 1 egg white (or 2 eggs), beaten

1/4 cup matzo meal (or flour if it’s not for Passover)

1/2 cup grated parmesan

1/2 cup shredded mozzarella

dash of dried basil and dried oregano

kosher salt

non-stick spray

1.  Place pizza stone in oven.  Preheat oven to 400 degrees.  Alternatively, if you’re using a pan, generously grease it with olive oil and set aside until oven is ready.

2.  Remove as much moisture out of grated zucchini as possible by wrapping with a clean towel or several paper towels and squeezing.

3.  Mix zucchini, beaten eggs, matzo meal, parmesan, mozzarella, and herbs in a large bowl until zucchini is completely coated.

4.  When oven is 400 degrees, lay parchment on heated pizza stone and spread mixture into a large round.  Alternatively, make a large round on a greased pizza pan and place in oven.  Spray top with non-stick spray.

5.  Bake for 20 minutes.  Spray top again and bake for another 15 minutes.

6.  Remove from oven and allow to cool for about 5 minutes.  Loosen crust from parchment with a spatula.

7.  Top with your favorite toppings.  Return to oven and bake for about 8-10 minutes until heated through.

8.  Cut into slices and serve.

9.  Eat!!


Filed under Dinner, Vegetables

Low Carb Zucchini Pasta and Creamy Ricotta, Smoked Bacon, and Artichoke Sauce

After our week of eating while traveling — that is, many In-n-Out burgers, diner food, and other processed and greasy vittles, it feels good to be back at home, cooking healthy whole foods again!

I had to make a quick weeknight meal last night, so I made some pasta for the boys, and sauteed zucchini “pasta” for me.  I saw this recipe on the NY Times site, and it sounded intriguing.  It’s just zucchini slices made with a vegetable peeler sauteed in olive oil until al dente and seasoned with salt.  It really makes a wonderful foil for a creamy rich sauce, and I think it’s more flavorful than regular pasta.  I saved the cores of the two zucchini and will steam them and throw them in a soup later in the week.

Cooking the zucchini al dente makes a wonderful alternative to pasta.

I knew I wanted a rich, creamy sauce (I had extra ricotta  on hand), so I made up one inspired by this Cooking Light Alfredo with Bacon recipe.  I altered it by adding the ricotta, nutmeg, a mix of part skim plain mozzarella and whole milk smoky mozzarella to bring out the smokiness of the bacon, and some leftover artichoke hearts I had that needed to be used!

It was a perfect marriage of flavors and my boys loved it (always a good indicator for a recipe I can use in the future!)

Ricotta Artichoke Sauce with Spaghetti -- fettucine would be great too, but none to be found in our pantry at the time!

Pasta with Ricotta Cream Sauce and Bacon

½ lb. pasta (spaghetti or fettucine works well) and 1/2 recipe of zucchini pasta

or 1 lb. pasta or one full recipe of zucchini pasta

kosher salt

2 slices of hickory smoked bacon, chopped

2 teaspoons  olive oil

½ small onion, chopped

1 teaspoon minced garlic

1 tablespoon flour

1 ½ cup milk (whole or 2% would probably be best, but I used skim!)

¾ cup ricotta (5 oz.)

¼ cup grated parmesan cheese

¼ cup grated mozzarella (I used a combination of regular and smoky)

2 canned artichoke hearts, chopped (could probably use more, but that’s all I had)

½ teaspoon nutmeg

Freshly crushed black pepper

  1. Bring a large pot of water to boil.  Season water with salt and cook pasta according to package instructions. Reserve about ¼ cup cooking water and drain pasta.  Or make zucchini pasta.
  2. While pasta is cooking make sauce.  Cook bacon in a large skillet until browned.  Remove to a paper lined plate to drain.
  3. Add a teaspoon or two of olive oil to pan depending on how much bacon grease is left.  I hardly had any so I had to add oil.  Saute chopped onion and garlic until softened.  Sprinkle flour on top and brown quickly in pan.  Then whisk in milk gradually to create a sauce.  Add ricotta and whisk until smooth.  Then add parmesan and mozzarella and artichoke hearts.  Stir to combine.  Season with kosher salt, nutmeg, and pepper to taste.  Simmer over low heat until thickened, about 3 minutes.
  4. Add cooked pasta to skillet and toss to coat.  Add bacon and stir.  Serve immediately.

Makes 4 servings.


Filed under Dinner, Pasta, Vegetables