Veg-Bacon Zucchini Lasagna

Another zucchini recipe? Sure, why not. It’s such a versatile vegetable and it doesn’t hurt to add more veggies to our daily menu!

By replacing the lasagna noodles with zucchini slices, the tasty result has all the wonderful flavors we love about the Italian dish – it’s even very similar in its texture!

This lasagna is perfect in the summer with your garden-fresh veggies and herbs, or in the winter when you need a comforting meal. This updated version features zucchini slices with layers of cheese, bacon, leeks, mushrooms, swiss chard and a flavorful sun-dried tomato sauce.

 Lasagna in any form must be up there on our list of comfort food favorites. What’s not to love about lasagna? They’re saucy, cheesy, and perfect to fill with our favorite ingredients. The possibilities are endless when we can really start to think outside the basic fillings.

The replacement of traditional pasta with zucchini adds great texture to the dish, plus a beautiful presentation. The longer you cook the lasagna, the softer the zucchini noodles will become.

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Bacon Zucchini Lasagna
Bacon & Veggies
  1. Heat a large saucepan over medium heat. Sauté bacon until slightly crisp. Remove & blot on paper towel. Add leeks & mushrooms to the pan; sauté 4 minutes or until soft. Add the garlic; sauté 1 minute. Spoon the mixture into a large bowl.
  2. Heat 1 tsp of oil in saucepan; add zucchini slices. Sauté 4 minutes or until tender & just beginning to brown. Remove from pan to a plate. Heat remaining 1 tsp of oil & add the Swiss chard; sauté 4 minutes or until wilted. Combine bacon & Swiss chard with vegetable mixture in bowl.
  1. In a skillet, heat oil. Add onion & cook 2 minutes until it starts to soften. Add garlic, oregano, thyme, paprika & sun-dried tomatoes. Cook for 2 minutes while stirring with a spatula. Add veg broth & allow to bubble for 2 minutes then add salt & pepper (if using). Bring to a boil then reduce heat & simmer for 5 minutes. Stir in the cream & parmesan cheese.
  1. Grate mozzarella & parmesan cheeses. In a bowl, combine cottage cheese & 150 gm (1 1/2 cups) mozzarella; stir well.
  1. Preheat oven to 375 F. Spray a 13 x 9-inch baking pan with veg oil.
  2. Spread a small amount of the sauce mixture in the bottom of prepared baking dish. Arrange 1/3 of zucchini slices over the sauce; top with half of the cottage cheese mixture, then half of the veg/bacon mixture & about a cup of sauce. Repeat layers, ending with zucchini slices. Spread the remaining sauce mixture on top of the zucchini slices; sprinkle with the remaining mozzarella.
  3. Cover & bake for 20 minutes. Uncover & bake an additional 20 minutes or until the cheese is bubbly & beginning to brown, Allow to sit about 10 minutes before serving.

Stuffed Mushrooms in Sun-Dried Tomato Sauce

Stuffed mushrooms are one of those items that can be an appetizer as well as a main course. They are as versatile as you can get. The number of different fillings are endless and can be anything from a simple bread stuffing to seafood, veggies or any kind of meat.

Portobello mushrooms are big, meaty and the ideal vessel for stuffing, creating a dish that is a meal unto itself. Few things can match the flavor of stuffed mushrooms.

Depending on the source, this unique dish has been around since the late 19th century or early 20th century. The fact that they resemble stuffed zucchini, it is likely that the Italians should receive credit for their creation.

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Stuffed Portobello Mushrooms in Sun-Dried Tomato Sauce
  1. Trim stems from mushrooms & finely chop them; reserve for sauce. Whisk the egg lightly in a shallow bowl. In a separate shallow bowl, combine flour, salt, pepper, oregano, thyme, paprika & garlic salt.
  2. In a large skillet, heat olive oil on medium-high. Dip the mushrooms in the egg then in the flour mixture. Coat the outside of the mushrooms, trying not to get too much flour inside the 'cap'.
  3. In a skillet, fry mushrooms on both sides until lightly golden. Use a tongs to help fry the sides as well. Remove mushrooms to a plate. To the skillet, add a splash of water & Swiss chard leaves. Sprinkle with salt & pepper & saute until leaves are wilted, about 1 minute.
  4. Divide cream cheese between the 4 mushroom caps. Top with wilted Swiss chard; sprinkle with grated Parmesan & paprika. Set aside, keeping warm.
  1. In a skillet , heat oil. Add onion & cook for 2 minutes until it starts to soften. Add reserved mushroom stems, garlic, oregano, paprika, sun-dried tomatoes, red peppers & zucchini. Cook for 2 minutes while stirring with a spatula. Add wine (or chicken broth) & allow to bubble for 2 minutes then add vegetable broth, salt & pepper. Bring to a boil & simmer for 5 minutes.
  2. Stir the cream & Parmesan cheese into the sauce, then nestle the mushrooms on top. Garnish with chopped fresh parsley. Nice to serve with pasta or potatoes and/or a meat item.

Pasta Shells with Beef, Artichokes & Roasted Red Pepper

Creating interesting, flavorful meals with the smallest number of ingredients and the least fuss, lets you explore new avenues. Using roasted red pepper puree can do just that. To give an example, spoon some puree on a plate, lay a piece of grilled chicken or fish on top. Next sprinkle with chopped fresh herbs and you’ve got it — stunning and delicious!

Roasting red peppers not only makes them easy to peel but incredibly sweet and flavorful. When pureed, they give an amazing boost of flavor to whatever you choose to use them in.

I’ve always loved stuffed pasta shells, Brion probably not so much, but once in a while it works. Instead of using a pasta sauce in this version, I decided to go with the puree. Since a jar of roasted red peppers is a staple in my pantry, I’m doing a short cut idea. It actually worked out quite well.

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Pasta Shells with Beef, Artichokes & Roasted Red Pepper

  1. In a large stockpot, boil jumbo shells in salted water for about 15 minutes; drain & rinse under under cold water. While pasta is cooking, stir-fry ground beef & drain on a paper towels; set aside. Add oil & butter to saucepan & saute garlic, onions, mushrooms for about 2-3 minutes. Add chopped red peppers & sun-dried tomatoes; cook another 2-3 minutes.

  2. Cool slightly, transfer to a food processor & process mixture ( you should still have some texture in the peppers when finished). Pour puree back into the skillet; add broth, spices & Roasted Garlic Alfredo Sauce, combine well. Add a small amount of sauce to ground beef; mix well.

  3. Preheat oven to 350 F. Spread some sauce mixture over bottom of a 9 x 13-inch baking dish. Inside of each pasta shell place a piece of drained artichoke; divide beef mixture between the shells.

  4. Stand filled pasta shells, single file on top of sauce. Pour remaining sauce over all & top with grated parmigano-reggiano cheese. Cover with foil & bake about 35-40 minutes.