Stovetop Meatball Lasagna

This is a crowd-pleasing, lighter, stovetop upgrade to a classic lasagna. It was also less time consuming to prepare. I loved the brightness from the incorporation of fresh herbs.

The recipe was adapted from Bon Appétit, contributed by Shilpa Uskokovic. I modified the method and added garlic. The grated zucchini and panko in the meatballs made them very tender. Fabulous!

Yield: Serves 4 to 6 (5 in my house)

  • 1 large zucchini (about 12 oz), finely grated (about 1½ cups)(I used a food processor)
  • 1 1/2 cups panko
  • 1 tsp dried oregano
  • 1 tsp garlic powder
  • 1 tsp paprika
  • 6 T extra-virgin olive oil, divided
  • 2 tsp Diamond Crystal or 1 1/4 tsp Morton kosher salt, plus more, to taste
  • 1 lb ground chicken
  • 1/2 cup finely chopped dill, plus more for serving
  • 1/2 cup finely chopped parsley
  • 1 28 oz can whole, peeled tomatoes (I used San Marzano)
  • 2 large garlic cloves, thinly sliced
  • 1 large shallot, thinly sliced
  • 8 oz fresh whole milk ricotta
  • finely grated lemon zest from 1/2 a large lemon
  • 10 oz lasagna noodles, broken into 2–3 pieces (do not use oven-ready noodles)(I used DeCecco)
  • grated Parmesan, for serving (I used Parmigiano-Reggiano)
  1. Using a sturdy wooden spoon or rubber spatula, vigorously stir grated zucchini, panko, oregano, garlic powder, paprika, 1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil, and kosher salt in a large bowl until combined and nearly paste-like. (I grated the zucchini medium-large because I used a food processor.)
  2. Add ground chicken, chopped dill and parsley and mix until fully incorporated (you don’t need to worry about overmixing here; mixture will be soft). (I used a food processor to finely chop the fresh herbs.)
  3. Heat 1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil in a large Dutch oven or other heavy pot over medium to medium-high. (I used a large enameled cast iron Dutch oven.)
  4. Using a 3 tablespoon cookie scoop, portion out half of meat mixture (meatballs don’t need to be perfectly round; rustic-looking is good) and add directly to pot. (I did 2 batches of 8 meatballs.)
  5. Cook, undisturbed, until well browned underneath, about 2 to 3 minutes.
  6. Carefully turn meatballs over and cook until second side is golden brown, about 2 to 3 minutes (it’s okay if meatballs still look misshapen).
  7. Using a slotted spoon, transfer to a large plate.
  8. Pour an additional 1 tablespoon of extra-virgin olive oil into pot and repeat process with remaining meat mixture. (the remaining 8 meatballs)
  9. Return all meatballs to pot, the add canned tomatoes with juice, lightly crushing with your hands as you go, sliced garlic and shallot, and remaining 3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil; season with salt.
  10. Reduce heat to medium-low, cover pot, and cook meatballs and sauce, gently stirring occasionally (it’s okay if meatballs start to fall apart), until sauce is slightly thickened, 15–20 minutes. (After stirring halfway through the cooking time, I reduced the heat to low.)
  11. Meanwhile, whisk together ricotta, grated lemon zest, and a large pinch of salt in small bowl until smooth; set aside.
  12. Cook broken lasagna noodles in large pot of boiling salted water, stirring occasionally, until just shy of al dente, about 3 minutes.
  13. Using tongs, drop noodles into pot with sauce and cook, stirring gently, until sauce coats pasta.
  14. Divide pasta among shallow bowls and spoon dollops of reserved lemony ricotta over each.
  15. Top with dill and grated Parmesan, as desired. 

Do ahead: Meatballs and sauce can be made 3 days ahead; let cool. Transfer to an airtight container; cover and chill. Lemony ricotta can be made 1 day ahead. Cover and chill.

Turkish Grilled Chicken with Yogurt Marinade

What an amazing meal. Yogurt-based marinades are typically my favorite and this one was no exception. The chicken was incredibly tender and packed with flavor.

This recipe was adapted from The New York Times, contributed by Lidey Heuck. The recipe was inspired by Turkish chicken kebabs.

We ate this grilled chicken with Zucchini and Chickpea Salad with Tahini Yogurt – it was a wonderful accompaniment. I also served warm naan and brown Basmati rice on the side.

Yield: 6 servings

  • 1 cup plain whole-milk yogurt (I used whole-milk Greek yogurt)
  • 4 garlic cloves, grated or pushed through a garlic press
  • 1 T chopped fresh oregano (or 1 tsp dried oregano)
  • 1 1/2 tsp minced fresh thyme (or 1/2 tsp dried thyme)
  • 1 T olive oil, plus more for the grill (or pan)
  • 1 1/2 tsp Diamond Crystal kosher salt (or 3/4 tsp Morton), plus more for serving
  • 1/4 tsp freshly ground black pepper, plus more for serving
  • 1 lemon
  • 2 1/2 to 3 lbs boneless, skinless chicken thighs (about 10 thighs)
  • chopped fresh parsley or oregano, for serving
  1. In a large bowl, combine the yogurt, garlic, oregano, thyme, olive oil, salt and pepper.
  2. Zest the lemon over the bowl, reserving the rest of the lemon for serving. Whisk until smooth.
  3. Add the chicken thighs, toss to coat, then cover and refrigerate for at least 3 hours, or up to 24. Remove chicken from the refrigerator 30 minutes before cooking.
  4. If using a grill, clean and oil the grates. Set the grill to medium-high. (Alternatively, heat a grill pan slicked with olive oil on the stovetop over medium-high.)
  5. Grill the chicken for 6 to 8 minutes on each side (depending on the thickness of the thighs), covering the grill halfway through if necessary to retain heat, until cooked through, with an internal temperature of 165 degrees.
  6. Transfer the chicken thighs to a platter and squeeze half the lemon over them.
  7. Sprinkle with salt, pepper and parsley, and serve with lemon wedges or lemon slices on the side, as desired.

One-Pot Brown Butter Corn with Chicken Thighs

I have a couple more late-summer corn recipes to share. This wonderful weeknight dish was very quick to prepare. We ate it with steamed CSA green beans drizzled with basil vinaigrette and roasted potatoes, also from my CSA share. Perfect.

This recipe was adapted from The New York Times, contributed by Melissa Clark. I modified the method and proportions.

Yield: 6 to 8 servings

  • 8 to 10 skinless, boneless chicken thighs (about 2 1/4 pounds)
  • coarse salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 6 garlic cloves, finely grated or minced
  • 2 tsp fresh thyme leaves
  • 2 T extra-virgin olive oil
  • 6 T unsalted butter, divided
  • 5 ears fresh corn
  • 1 cup torn basil leaves, chiffonade
  • lime wedges, for serving, optional
  • 4 scallions, thinly sliced, for serving
  1. Trim chicken thighs and pat dry. Season chicken all over with salt and pepper.
  2. Rub garlic and thyme on chicken, and set aside while preparing the rest of the ingredients.
  3. Heat a large skillet over medium-high. (I used a large enameled cast iron pan with a lid available.) Add oil and 2 tablespoons of the butter, letting butter melt.
  4. Add chicken and sear, undisturbed, until browned on both sides, about 4 to 5 minutes per side. Transfer chicken to a plate.
  5. While the chicken is cooking, cut the kernels off the corn cobs. (I hold the corn upright in the center of a large bowl and cut off the kernels with a paring knife.)
  6. Over medium heat, add remaining 4 tablespoons butter to the skillet. Cook, swirling occasionally, until the foam subsides and it smells nutty and toasty, 2 to 3 minutes. (Watch carefully to see that it doesn’t burn.)
  7. Add corn kernels and a big pinch of salt and black pepper. Sauté until tender and golden brown, about 2 minutes.
  8. Add chicken back to the skillet. Cover and cook until chicken is cooked through and corn is caramelized, about 5 to 10 minutes.
  9. Remove from heat and taste corn, adding more salt and pepper if needed. (I removed the chicken prior to seasoning the corn.)
  10. Stir in basil, scallion slices, and squeeze 2 lime wedges over the top.
  11. If chicken was removed from the pan, scoop corn into a serving dish and top with the chicken.
  12. Serve garnished with more sliced scallions, basil and/or lime wedges, as desired.

Grilled Chicken Thighs with Summer Corn & Tomatoes

This dish is absolutely perfect for entertaining. It is not only quick to prepare, but also needs to rest at room temperature prior to serving. By placing the warm grilled chicken over the raw corn kernels, as well as the thinly sliced tomatoes and red onion, the juices and seasonings enhance every layer.

This recipe was adapted from The New York Times, contributed by Ali Slagle. I modified the proportions. Next time I would consider adding even more corn, noted below. We ate it with roasted potatoes and green salad. Healthy and delicious. A great summer dish!

Yield: Serves 8

  • 3 to 3 1/2 pounds boneless, skinless chicken thighs, patted dry
  • 4 to 6 T extra-virgin olive oil
  • 2 T chili powder
  • Kosher salt
  • 1 1/2 pounds large ripe tomatoes, thinly sliced (I used 3 large tomatoes plus 1/2 pound Campari tomatoes)
  • 3 ears of corn, kernels cut from the cob, plus more, if desired
  • 1 large red onion, thinly sliced
  • fresh oregano leaves, for garnish, optional
  1. In a medium bowl, coat the chicken with 4 tablespoons olive oil, chili powder and 1 teaspoon salt; set aside. (You can do this step up to 1 day ahead; covered and refrigerated. Bring to room temperature before cooking.)
  2. Thinly slice the tomatoes. Season with salt and pepper; set aside. Drain excess liquid before using.
  3. Hold each ear of corn upright over a bowl; slice off the kernels. Repeat with remaining ears.
  4. Using a mandoline, slice the red onion into 1/8-inch rounds.
  5. On a large platter, layer the corn kernels, red onion, and (seasoned and drained) tomatoes. Drizzle with the remaining 2 tablespoons olive oil, if desired. (I omitted the additional oil.)
  6. Heat the grill to medium-high.
  7. When ready to grill, clean the grates with a grill brush, then lightly grease the grates.
  8. Grill the chicken until browned and cooked through, and it releases easily from the grates, 5 to 7 minutes per side.
  9. Transfer the chicken to the prepared platter; let rest for 5 to 20 minutes. Garnish with fresh oregano before serving, as desired.

Chicken Parm Burgers

I loved the idea of transforming one of our absolute favorite comfort food dishes into a summer dinner made on the grill. The burgers were very moist and packed with flavor. We ate them on potato rolls with coleslaw, potato chips, pickles, and watermelon. Perfect!

This recipe was adapted form The New York Times, contributed by Ali Slagle. We grilled the burgers, increased the amount of garlic, and used sliced fresh mozzarella. Cheesy and delicious.

Yield: Serves 4

  • olive oil or cooking oil spray
  • 1 pound ground chicken or turkey, preferably dark meat
  • 1/2 cup plus 2 tablespoons finely grated Parmesan, divided
  • 1/4 cup chopped basil leaves
  • 2 tablespoons tomato paste
  • 4 garlic cloves, finely grated or pushed through a garlic press
  • Kosher salt
  • 4 (1/4-inch thick) slices from a large ripe tomato
  • 4 (1/-4 inch thick) slices fresh mozzarella or 1/2 cup grated fresh or low-moisture mozzarella
  • potato rolls, burger buns or ciabatta rolls
  • baby spinach or arugula, for serving
  1. Lightly grease a large plate with olive oil or cooking oil spray and set aside.
  2. In a medium bowl, combine 1/2 cup Parmesan, basil, tomato paste, garlic and 1 teaspoon salt.
  3. Gently incorporate the ground meat into the cheese mixture.
  4. Working the meat as little as possible, form 4 patties that are each about 4 1/2 inches wide and about 1/2 cup or 135 grams.
  5. Transfer to the greased plate, cover, and refrigerate. (This helps maintain the shape and also prevents the juices and fat from leaking.)
  6. On a rimmed plate, sprinkle the tomato slices with salt.
  7. If using grated mozzarella, stir together the mozzarella and the remaining 2 tablespoons Parmesan.
  8. Preheat a grill to medium heat. (I used a griddle on the grill and preheated it at this time too.)
  9. Toast the buns on the preheated grill, if desired. (I omitted this step.)
  10. Oil the grill griddle and add the patties. Cook until browned underneath, 3 to 5 minutes. (Reduce heat if the patties are burning.)
  11. Flip the patties, top each with 1/2 tablespoon of the grated Parmesan cheese followed by a slice of fresh mozzarella cheese (or with the combination of grated cheeses, if using).
  12. Cover the grill with the lid and cook until the cheese is melted and the patties are cooked through, 3 to 5 minutes. Turn off the heat.
  13. Pat the tomatoes dry.
  14. To each bottom bun, add a handful of baby spinach or arugula, followed by a slice of tomato, a chicken patty and its top bun. Serve hot with chips and coleslaw, as desired.

Avocado-Chicken Burgers

The only drawback of these flavor-packed chicken burgers is that they have to be pan-cooked in order to keep their shape because they are very moist. Worth the mess!

The original recipe notes that the ginger, garlic, cilantro and scallions incorporated into the burger makes them similar to a dumpling filling. They were fresh and light.

I loved the soy-lime mayonnaise sauce and loads of toppings. I served them with a generous amount of sauce, and jalapeño and avocado slices on potato rolls. There were so many toppings that we forgot to add lettuce! I may even try them topped with arugula next time.

This recipe was adapted from The New York Times, contributed by Yasmin Fahr. I used freshly ground chicken thigh meat and froze the formed burgers for 20 minutes prior to cooking. We ate them with pickles and chips.

Yield: Serves 4

freezer for 20 min before cooking

  • 1/3 cup mayonnaise
  • 1 tsp soy sauce or fish sauce
  • 1 lime, cut into wedges
  •  Kosher salt
  • 1 packed cup cilantro leaves and tender stems, roughly chopped, plus more for serving
  • 1/4 cup mashed, ripe Hass avocado (from about 1/2 avocado; slice the other half for serving)
  • 2 scallions, light green and white parts only, thinly sliced
  • 3 large garlic cloves, grated, minced, or pushed through a garlic press
  • 1 (2-inch) piece ginger, grated or minced (about 2 tsp)
  • 1/4 to 1/2 teaspoon red-pepper flakes, to taste
  • 1 pound ground chicken, preferably dark meat (I used freshly ground chicken thighs)
  • 2 T neutral oil, such as canola oil, or ghee
  • potato, brioche, or other burger buns, lightly toasted, as desired
  •  butter lettuce or other tender lettuce, for serving, or arugula
  • 1 jalapeño, thinly sliced, for serving, optional

To Make the Sauce:

  1. In a small serving bowl, combine the mayonnaise and soy sauce.
  2. Season with the juice of 1 lime wedge and salt as needed.

To Make the Burgers:

  1. In a medium mixing bowl, use a fork to mash and thoroughly combine the chopped cilantro, mashed avocado (see Tip), scallions, garlic, ginger, red-pepper flakes, 1 teaspoon salt and 1 tablespoon of the soy-lime mayonnaise sauce.
  2. Add the chicken and gently combine. Form into 4 large balls.
  3. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate or freeze for 20 minutes to help maintain the shape while cooking.
  4. Heat a large (12-inch) cast-iron or heavy skillet over medium heat until very hot, 1 1/2 to 2 minutes.
  5. Add the neutral oil or ghee, then add the chicken meatballs, spacing them out in the pan. (We cooked 2 at a time.)
  6. Use a metal spatula to press them until they form 1/2-inch-thick patties.
  7. Cook without moving for 3 1/2 to 4 minutes, until a deep golden crust has formed and they easily release from the pan.
  8. Flip the patties using the spatula and cook until done with a nice crust on the other side, about 3 minutes more. If the patties need more time, cover the pan and cook for 1 to 2 more minutes, adjusting the heat as needed to avoid scorching.
  9. Squeeze a lime wedge over the patties and serve sandwiched between the buns topped with lettuce, a healthy slathering of sauce, avocado slices, jalapeño slices if using, and cilantro sprigs, if desired.
  10. Serve with the remaining lime wedges and mayonnaise on the side.

Tip: Resist the urge to add more than 1/4 cup mashed avocado to the ground chicken, as the burgers will get too soft and fall apart during cooking.

Fried Chicken & Biscuits

Over the years, my husband has perfected his ultimate birthday menu. Our entire family looks forward to the annual feast. 😉 After his approval, I do try new variations of a few items on the menu- with the exception of his absolute favorite Vanilla Bean Birthday Cheesecake.

I wanted to try this recipe because it is meant to be made in advance, served at room temperature, and made to travel for a picnic. This is ideal because his birthday is usually one of the first days of the year we are able to eat outside on our back porch. We also eat leftovers for a couple of days! The leftover chicken stayed crisp and was great at room temperature but we preferred to re-heat the biscuits the following day.

The fried chicken recipe was adapted from The New York Times, contributed by Tejal Rao, inspired by Masaharu Morimoto’s katsu in the cookbook “Mastering the Art of Japanese Home Cooking.” The biscuit recipe was adapted from Sam Sifton’s all-purpose biscuit recipe, also from The New York Times, but is lightly kneaded so it’s not too tender to form into a sandwich. I modified the method and proportions. I also omitted the hot honey butter for salted butter but included the recipe below.

We ate the chicken sandwiched by a split biscuit with or without salted butter and half sour pickle slices. The feast also included Ina Garten’s Macaroni and Cheese, Sweet Potato Spoon Bread, and green salad with Icebox Buttermilk Dressing. (and birthday cheesecake for dessert, of course) ❤

This dish would be perfect for a Memorial Day or Father’s Day celebration as well. Chicken breast meat can be substituted for the thigh meat, if desired.

Yield: Serves 10 to 12

For the Biscuits:

  • 3 cups/450 grams all-purpose flour
  • about 2 tablespoons/37 grams baking powder
  • 1 T granulated sugar
  • 1 1/2 tsp kosher salt
  • 7 T/100 grams cold unsalted butter, cubed
  • 1 1/2 cups/360 milliliters whole milk

For the Fried Chicken:

  • 9 to 10 boneless, skinless chicken thighs, cut in half if large (I used 9 thighs and cut the larger pieces to make 15), at room temperature
  • 1 cup plus 2 T/170 grams all-purpose flour
  • 3 tsp cayenne
  • 3 tsp kosher salt, plus more for seasoning
  • 4 large or extra-large eggs
  • about 2 cups/200 grams panko bread crumbs, plus more if needed
  • canola or other neutral oil, for frying (I used vegetable oil)

For the (Optional) Hot Honey-Butter and To Serve:

  • 10 T/142 grams unsalted butter, softened
  • 3 T honey
  • hot sauce, a vinegary variety such as Crystal, to taste
  • sliced half sour, fridge pickles, or dill pickles, for serving
  • salted butter, at room temperature, to taste

To Prepare the Biscuits:

  1. In a bowl, use a fork to mix the flour, baking powder, sugar and salt.
  2. Add butter and use a pastry blender or a fork to mash it into the flour until the mixture resembles large, lumpy crumbs.
  3. Stir in milk until a dough comes together.
  4. Flour your hands, then gently gather and knead the dough in the bowl for 2 to 3 minutes, or until it springs back slightly to the touch. (If the dough is sticky, sprinkle additional flour as needed.)
  5. Cover bowl loosely with plastic wrap and rest dough in fridge for half hour (longer is okay!). (I prepared the chicken while the dough was resting.)
  6. Heat oven to 425 degrees, preferably on convection.
  7. On a lightly floured surface, use a floured rolling pin to roll the dough to 1-inch to 1 1/2-inch thickness.
  8. Use a floured knife or round cutter to cut about 12 biscuits, about 2 1/2 inches wide.
  9. Re-roll the scraps and cut again as needed.
  10. Place biscuits on a rimmed, parchment paper lined, baking sheet and bake for 15 on convection, or up to 20 minutes in a conventional oven, or until they have puffed up and the tops are slightly golden.
  11. Let cool completely on a wired rack at room temperature. Transfer to an airtight container if not using until the next day.

To Prepare the Fried Chicken:

  1. Trim excess fat and any membranes from the meat, then lightly hammer the thickest parts of the thighs with a mallet or rolling pin. Season each side with coarse salt.
  2. Mix flour, cayenne and salt in one wide bowl. (I used a glass pie dish.)
  3. Beat eggs in a second wide bowl, or glass pie dish, and place panko in a third.
  4. Dip each chicken thigh in flour, coating it all over and patting off the excess, then in egg, allowing extra egg to drip off, then in panko, making sure each thigh is entirely coated in bread crumbs, and using your hands to press loose crumbs into any places where they look scarce.
  5. In a large, heavy bottomed skillet, pour in oil to a 2-inch depth and heat to 350 degrees F. (I used a 12-inch cast iron skillet and clipped on a thermometer.)
  6. Fry 2 to 3 thighs at a time, flipping them with tongs over every two minutes or so, until golden brown and crisp all over, about 8 minutes total.
  7. Transfer to a wire rack set over a paper towel-lined sheet pan and season lightly with salt. (This step is very important in order to maintain the crispy texture!)
  8. Let cool entirely at room temperature, at least 1 hour. (I baked the biscuits at this point.) The sandwiches can be assembled after cooling or transfer the rack to the fridge and leave the chicken uncovered overnight.

To Serve:

  1. When both the chicken and biscuits have cooled (or the next day), mix together soft butter, honey and hot sauce until smooth, if using. (We opted for plain salted butter.)
  2. Cut or split open the cooled biscuits, smear each cut side with honey butter or salted butter, and sandwich with a piece of chicken.
  3. Top with pickle slices, as desired.

Note: If traveling, loosely wrap each sandwich in a piece of parchment paper and pack side by side in a hard container, in a single layer, so the sandwiches aren’t crushed. Serve with additional hot sauce and pickles on the side.

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