These Greek-inspired chicken burgers were juicy and flavor-packed. They were relatively healthy too! We ate them on Memorial Day with corn and potato salad on the side. Delicious.
This recipe was loosely adapted from Bon Appétit, contributed by Sue Li. I used freshly ground chicken thighs, added feta, and modified the proportions and method. The original recipe notes that in order to keep the burgers moist, it is important that the meat isn’t packed too tightly. I think that the exorbitant amount of spinach also kept the burgers moist.
I have shared my love for manicotti in the past– stemming from wonderful memories of enjoying it with my college roommate’s large Italian family on Easter Sunday.
I have made many versions of spinach manicotti, usually filling store-bought manicotti noodles. Using no-boil lasagna noodles instead was a great “less-hassle” shortcut. They were also chosen to mimic the texture of fresh pasta. It was absolutely true! I will never buy manicotti noodles again. 😉
This recipe was adapted from America’s Test Kitchen. I replaced one cup of ricotta cheese with an equivalent amount of chopped, steamed spinach seasoned with freshly grated nutmeg. I also used whole milk ricotta instead of part-skim, part-skim mozzarella instead of whole milk mozzarella, coarse salt instead of table salt, and modified the method. Fabulous.
4 ounces (about 2 cups) grated Parmesan cheese, divided (I used Parmigiano-Reggiano)
8 ounces (about 2 cups) shredded mozzarella cheese (I used part-skim mozzarella)
2 large eggs, lightly beaten
3/4 teaspoon coarse salt
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
2 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley leaves
2 tablespoons chopped fresh basil
16 no-boil lasagna noodles (I used Trader Joe’s)
Steam the baby spinach until wilted. (I did this on the stove top.)
Let the spinach cool slightly, then use a potato ricer to remove excess liquid. Coarsely chop. (You should have about 1 cup.) Season with salt and freshly ground nutmeg. Set aside.
Adjust oven rack to middle position and heat oven to 375 degrees, preferably on convection.
Make the Sauce: Pulse 1 can tomatoes with their juice in food processor until coarsely chopped, 3 or 4 pulses. Transfer to a bowl. Repeat with remaining can tomatoes.
Heat oil, garlic, and pepper flakes (if using) in large saucepan over medium heat until fragrant but not brown, 1 to 2 minutes.
Stir in tomatoes and 1/2 teaspoon salt and simmer until thickened slightly, about 15 minutes.
Stir in basil; adjust seasoning with salt. Set aside.
Make the Filling: Combine the chopped spinach, ricotta, 1 cup Parmesan, mozzarella, eggs, salt, pepper, and herbs in medium bowl; set aside.
To Assemble: Pour 1 inch boiling water into 13 by 9-inch broiler-safe baking dish, then add noodles one at a time. (I used a pyrex dish.) Let noodles soak until pliable, about 5 to 6 minutes, separating noodles with tip of sharp knife to prevent sticking.
Remove noodles from water and place in single layer on clean kitchen towels. Do not use paper towels because the noodles may stick. (I used flour sack towels.)
If using the same dish to bake the manicotti, drain the water and dry the dish. (I used a ceramic baking dish to bake the manicotti instead of using the pyrex dish.)
Place the preferred baking dish on a rimmed baking sheet. Spread bottom of baking dish evenly with 1 1/2 cups sauce.
Using a large cookie scoop or a soup spoon, spread 3 to 4 tablespoons of the spinach-cheese filling mixture evenly onto bottom three-quarters of each noodle (with short side facing you), leaving top quarter of noodle exposed.
Roll into tube shape and arrange in baking dish seam side down.
Top evenly with remaining sauce, making certain that pasta is completely covered. (It seems like a lot of liquid but it’s necessary for the no-boil noodles to cook properly.)
To Bake: Cover manicotti with aluminum foil. Bake until bubbling, about 40 minutes, then remove foil.
Remove baking dish, adjust oven rack to uppermost position (about 6 inches from heating element).
Sprinkle manicotti evenly with remaining 1 cup Parmesan. Return to the oven on the adjusted oven rack; bake for 5 to 6 minutes, or until the cheese is melted and the sauce is bubbling.
Set the oven to broil.
Broil until cheese is lightly brown or spotty brown, 1 to 2 minutes. Cool 15 minutes, then serve.
Note: The manicotti can be prepared through step 15, covered with a sheet of parchment paper, wrapped in aluminum foil, and refrigerated for up to 3 days or frozen for up to 1 month. (If frozen, thaw the manicotti in the refrigerator for 1 to 2 days.) To bake, remove the parchment, replace the aluminum foil, and increase baking time to 1 to 1 1/4 hours.
This is another dish with a crispy and delicious parmesan topping. Cheese makes everything better. 🙂 I loved that the base of the dish was an arugula salad. The crunchy roasted almond topping provided a nice contrasting texture too.
I cut the head of cauliflower through the center into two steaks and roasted the additional florets in a formation as close to a plank as well, for presentation purposes. Next time, I may change the orientation of the cauliflower to keep the florets attached to the core.
This recipe was adapted from Martha Stewart Living. I used French green lentils, added red pepper flakes, and modified the cooking and serving methods. It was a lovely, fresh and healthy light meal. We ate it for dinner, but it would also be wonderful served for a special lunch, of course. 🙂
Yield: Serves 4
3 cups of cored and chopped tomatoes, about 3 beefsteak tomatoes (I used 2 beefsteak and 3 romas)
2 to 4 cloves garlic, thinly sliced, plus 1 clove for cooking the lentils, if desired
2 tablespoons capers, drained
1/2 cup (8 T) extra-virgin olive oil, divided
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
pinch of red pepper flakes, or more, to taste
1 head cauliflower (about 2 pounds), trimmed and cut through the core into 1-inch planks
1 1/2 cups cooked lentils (I used French green lentils)
2 ounces Parmigiano-Reggiano, grated (3/4 cup)
1 bunch arugula, trimmed (I used about 4 oz wild baby arugula)
1 tablespoon red-wine vinegar
toasted almonds, chopped, for serving (I used sliced almonds)
Cook the lentils: Place 3/4 to 1 cup of dried lentils with a large smashed (but intact) garlic clove, optional, in a pot covered by 2 inches of water. Bring to a boil and season with salt. Reduce heat to a simmer and cook 25 to 30 minutes, or until tender. (You will have leftover cooked lentils.)
Toast the almonds: Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Spread almonds in an even layer on a rimmed quarter sheet pan. Toast the almonds, stirring once or twice, about 4 to 5 minutes, or until golden brown and fragrant. Remove and set aside.
Increase the oven temperature to 475°F, with a rack placed in the center and another rack in top position. (I set my oven to convection roast.)
In a bowl, toss together tomatoes, garlic, capers, large pinch of red pepper flakes, if using, and 2 tablespoons oil; season with salt and pepper.
Place cauliflower planks on a rimmed baking sheet.
Brush cauliflower evenly with 3 tablespoons oil and season with salt and pepper.
Roast until undersides are golden, 12 to 13 minutes. Remove pan from the oven, flip the cauliflower and push to one side.
Add tomato mixture to other side of the pan.
Reduce the oven temperature to 450 degrees; roast 12 minutes more.
Stir 1 1/2 cups drained lentils into tomato mixture. Drizzle with 2 tablespoons oil; season with salt and pepper.
Sprinkle everything with cheese.
Switch oven setting to broil, and broil on top rack until cheese has melted, 1 to 2 minutes.
Toss arugula with remaining 1 tablespoon oil and vinegar; season with salt and pepper.
Serve the roasted cauliflower planks over lentils and arugula salad, sprinkled with toasted almonds.
This is a variation of one of my favorite Italian restaurant dishes, orecchiette with sausage and broccoli rabe. It was fast to prepare and really full-flavored- incorporating anchovies, freshly ground fennel seeds, and lots of garlic. Great.
This recipe was adapted from 177milkstreet.com, contributed by Jeanne Maguire. I substituted jarred fire-roasted red peppers and brine for Peppadew peppers. I used a combination of sweet and hot Italian sausage as well.
Yield: Serves 4 to 6
12 ounces orecchiette pasta
2 T extra-virgin olive oil, divided
1 pound (about 6) sweet or hot Italian sausage, casings removed (I used 2/3 sweet (4) and 1/3 hot sausage (2))
3 anchovy fillets, minced
2 tsp fennel seeds, ground
1/4 cup finely chopped mild Peppadew peppers or fire-roasted red peppers, plus 1 T brine (I used Trader Joe’s)
8 to 10 large garlic cloves, thinly sliced
1 pound Swiss chard, stems and leaves separated
3/4 cup chicken broth or stock, divided
3 T freshly grated Parmigiano-Reggiano, plus more for serving
Remove the stems from the chard leaves and cut into 1/2-inch pieces. Soak in a bowl of water, drain, and set aside.
Cut the leaves into 3-inch wide ribbons; wash and drain. Set aside.
Bring a large pot of well-salted water to a boil. Add the pasta and cook until al dente.
Drain, return to the pot and toss with 1 tablespoon of oil. Set aside.
Meanwhile, in a 12-inch skillet (with a lid available) over medium-high, heat the remaining 1 tablespoon oil until shimmering. (I used a large enameled cast iron pan.)
Add the sausage and cook, breaking it into small chunks, until well browned, 6 to 8 minutes. Remove from pan and place on a paper towel-lined plate. Discard all but 1 T of the drippings from the pan.
Add the anchovies, ground fennel seed, and peppers to the skillet and cook over medium, stirring constantly, for 30 seconds or until fragrant.
Stir in the garlic and chard stems, then cook until the garlic is aromatic, about 30 seconds.
Add 1/4 cup of the stock and cook, scraping up any browned bits, until most of the liquid evaporates, 1 to 2 minutes.
Stir in the chard leaves and the remaining 1/2 cup broth. Cover, reduce to medium-low and cook until the leaves are wilted, about 2 to 4 minutes.
Scrape the chard mixture into the pot with the pasta. (I added the pasta to the pot with the chard instead!)
Add the sausage and 1/2 teaspoon salt and stir over medium-low until the pasta is heated through, about 1 minute.
Gradually stir in the Parmesan, then the Peppadew or roasted red pepper brine.
Taste and season with salt. Serve sprinkled with more Parmesan.
This one-pan, stovetop recipe turns cheesy stuffed pasta into a weeknight dinner. It was a perfect crowd-pleasing dish to serve on a chilly evening. Jarred marinara is used as a shortcut- enhanced with buttery sautéed garlic and red pepper flakes. Great.
This recipe was adapted from epicurious.com, contributed by Anna Stockwell. I modified the proportions and method, and used dried oregano. I recommend eating it with crusty bread or garlic bread to mop up the sauce.
Yield: Serves 4 to 6
20 jumbo pasta shells (about 6 to 6.5 oz)
1 tsp kosher salt, divided, plus more to taste
2 T extra-virgin olive oil
8 to 10 oz crimini mushrooms, thinly sliced
1 tsp freshly ground black pepper
1/2 cup dry white wine or vermouth (I used Pinot Grigio)
5 oz baby spinach
6 to 9 large garlic cloves, thinly sliced
2 T unsalted butter
24 to 28 oz jarred marinara sauce (I used 28 oz Rao’s Marinara)
1/2 tsp crushed red pepper flakes
2 cups (15 to 16 oz) whole-milk ricotta
3 oz finely grated Parmesan (about 1 cup), plus more for serving (I used Parmigiano-Reggiano)
2 T finely chopped fresh oregano or 2 tsp dried oregano
fresh parsley or oregano, chopped, for garnish, optional
crusty bread or garlic bread for serving, optional
Cook shells in a large pot of boiling salted water, stirring occasionally, until very al dente, about 9 minutes; drain. Run under cold water to stop the cooking; drain again. (I cooked 22 shells just to be safe but only used 20.
Meanwhile, heat oil in a large skillet (with a lid) over medium-high. (I used a large, wide enameled cast iron pan.)
Add mushrooms and cook, stirring occasionally, until they release juices, then are dry again and nicely browned, 5–10 minutes; season with black pepper and 1/2 tsp salt.
Reduce heat to medium, add wine, and cook, stirring, until reduced by half, 30 seconds to 1 minute.
Add spinach, stir, cover, and cook until beginning to wilt, 1–2 minutes.
Uncover and continue to cook, stirring occasionally, until spinach is completely wilted and most of the liquid is evaporated, 2–4 minutes more. Transfer mushroom mixture to a large bowl; reserve skillet.
Add ricotta, Parmesan, 2 T fresh oregano or 2 tsp dried oregano, and remaining 1/2 tsp salt to mushroom mixture and stir to combine. Taste and adjust seasoning, to taste.
Spoon about 2 T ricotta mixture into each shell. The shell should be filled to capacity but not overstuffed. (I used a cookie scoop to ration the filling.)
Cook garlic and butter in reserved skillet over medium-high heat, stirring occasionally, until garlic is fragrant and beginning to brown, 2–3 minutes.
Add marinara sauce and red pepper flakes and bring to a simmer over low heat. Cook, stirring occasionally, until warmed through, 6–8 minutes.
Nestle stuffed shells into hot sauce in skillet.
Cover and cook over medium-low heat until shells are warmed through, 5–6 minutes.
Remove from heat and let sit 5 minutes.
Sprinkle with Parmesan and chopped fresh parsley or oregano. Serve with crusty bread or garlic bread, as desired.
I love a cheesy baked pasta loaded with greens. 🙂 This one was bursting with broccoli rabe (of which I am a huge fan) but it could have easily incorporated broccoli, baby broccolini, or other greens such as collards, spinach, and/or kale instead. We ate it with garlic bread and green salad. Great.
This recipe was adapted from Bon Appétit, contributed by Alison Roman. I was a little bit concerned about the spice level after adding an entire teaspoon of crushed red pepper flakes, but the finished result was perfect. I baked the casserole in a Dutch oven and the cheesy bread crumb topping formed an incredible crispy crust over the entire top. I may consider adding garlic next time, but it was amazing without it!
Yield: Serves 6 to 8
1 lb rigatoni, ziti, or fusilli
8 T extra-virgin olive oil, divided
3 large leeks, white and pale green parts only, halved lengthwise, sliced into 1/4-inch half-moons
minced garlic, optional
coarse salt and freshly ground black pepper
1 tsp crushed red pepper flakes, plus more to taste
2 bunches broccoli rabe or 3 bunches baby broccolini, trimmed, coarsely chopped (I cut the stems into 2-inch pieces and the leaves into 3-inch pieces)(see alternate green vegetable alternatives above)
1 cup heavy cream
12 oz sharp white cheddar, coarsely grated (about 3 cups), divided (I used 10 oz extra-sharp white cheddar and 2 oz white Beecher’s Flagship Handmade Cheese)
1 bunch chives, chopped, divided (about 1 cup)
1 cup coarse fresh breadcrumbs or panko (I used a blend of the two)
Preheat oven to 425°, preferably on convection.
Bring a large pot of water to a boil, then add a generous amount of salt. Cook pasta, stirring occasionally to keep it from sticking together, until just barely al dente, about 2 minutes less than package directions. Drain pasta, reserving 1 cup pasta cooking liquid.
While the pasta is cooking, heat 5 tablespoons of oil in a large Dutch oven or other heavy pot over medium. (I used a large enameled cast iron Dutch oven.)
Add leeks and season with salt and black pepper. Cook, stirring occasionally, until leeks are softened (but not so much that they don’t have any texture left) and starting to brown, 5–10 minutes.
Add red pepper flakes and garlic, if using, to leeks and stir to incorporate.
Add broccoli rabe by the handful, stirring to combine and allowing each addition to wilt before adding more.
Season with salt and black pepper.
Once all of the broccoli rabe has been added, cook, stirring occasionally, until bright green and wilted, about 2 minutes. Remove pot from heat and set aside.
Add pasta to reserved broccoli rabe mixture along with cream, three-quarters of the cheese, 2/3 of the chopped chives, and reserved pasta cooking liquid; mix well. Season with salt and black pepper and add more red pepper flakes if you prefer more heat (keep in mind that the saltiness and spiciness will increase as the pasta bakes).(I didn’t add any additional heat.)
Transfer pasta to a 3-qt. baking dish (or, if your Dutch oven is ovenproof, just leave it in there). (I scraped down the sides of my Dutch oven and kept the mixture in it to bake- less dishes!)
Toss breadcrumbs and remaining 3 tablespoons of oil in a medium bowl until coated; season with salt and black pepper.
Scatter breadcrumbs over pasta, then sprinkle evenly with remaining cheese.
Bake until pasta is bubbling across the entire surface and breadcrumbs are deep golden brown, 22 to 35 minutes. Let cool slightly.
Scatter remaining chives over pasta just before serving.
Everyone loves meatballs- right? These were a healthyish version packed with cilantro and spinach. We ate them over rice topped with dollops of garlicky Greek yogurt sauce with roasted cauliflower on the side. Yum.
My husband was gifted a meat grinder for Christmas. 🙂 This was the first time he used it, grinding chicken thighs for these full-flavored meatballs. He plans to make burgers with blended meats next. Fancy!
This recipe was adapted from The New York Times, contributed by David Tanis. I prepared the seasoned meat about 6 hours ahead of time but it can even sit overnight in the refrigerator so that the meat absorbs the seasoning. I baked the meatballs (in the same oven as the roasted cauliflower) and used red pepper flakes instead of a serrano chile. I also added a yogurt sauce for serving. Fantastic.
Yield: Serves 4 to 6
For the Meatballs:
1pound spinach, washed
1 1/2pounds ground chicken (I used 5 freshly ground chicken thighs- medium grind)
2teaspoons kosher salt
1/2teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1/2teaspoon lemon zest (I used the zest from 1/2 lemon)
pinch of ground cayenne
pinch of freshly ground nutmeg
1/2teaspoon crushed fennel seeds (I crushed them using a mortar and pestle)
pinch of ground cinnamon
1cup roughly chopped cilantro leaves and tender stems, plus more for garnish
1serrano chile, with seeds, finely chopped or 1/4 tsp crushed red pepper flakes
1cup soft fresh bread crumbs, from about 4 slices of crustless sandwich bread (I used 3 slices of Trader Joe’s Tuscan Pane, crusts removed, pulsed in a food processor)
1/2cup heavy cream, half-and-half, milk, or ricotta cheese
extra-virgin olive oil, for the baking sheet
lemon wedges, for serving
cooked rice, for serving (I served the meatballs over white Basmati rice)
yogurt sauce (or store-bought tzatziki), for serving (see below)
For the Sauce:
1 cup Greek yogurt (I used 2%)
pinch of ground cumin
1 garlic clove, finely grated or pressed through a garlic press
fresh dill, cilantro or parsley, finely minced, to taste
freshly squeezed lemon juice, to taste
coarse salt and freshly ground black pepper
Blanch the spinach: Plunge leaves a handful at a time into a pot of boiling water. Leave just long enough to wilt, about 30 seconds, scoop out with a spider or slotted spoon and drain in a colander and cool under running water. Repeat until all of the spinach is wilted.
Remove and squeeze wilted leaves into a ball. I used a potato ricer and squeezed out the excess liquid in batches.
Using a large knife, roughly chop spinach on a cutting board — you should have about 2 cups.
Squeeze into a ball again to remove excess water. (This may be done several hours or up to a day in advance and refrigerated.) Again, I used a potato ricer and removed the excess liquid in batches.
If freshly grinding the chicken, grind into a large bowl using the medium grinding disc.
Combine the ground chicken, salt, pepper, lemon zest, cayenne, nutmeg, fennel seeds, cinnamon, spinach, cilantro, chile (or red pepper flakes), egg, bread crumbs and cream in a large bowl. Using your clean hands, knead everything together, mixing well. Leave to absorb seasoning for 15 minutes or overnight. (I refrigerated it for about 6 hours.)
Make the sauce: Combine all of the ingredients and refrigerate for flavors to develop.
Test for seasoning: Take a small amount and flatten into a thin patty. Quickly cook in a small skillet, about 1 minute per side. Taste, then adjust the mixture’s seasoning if necessary.
Preheat the oven to 425 degrees, preferably on convection roast.
Using a large ice cream scoop or spoon, form 19 to 24 rough balls and place on a large plate. (The mixture will be soft.)
Using a brush, coat a rimmed baking sheet with olive oil.
Lightly form the meatballs and position them on the prepared baking sheet. Along the long side of the pan, I placed them in rows of 5. (I had 19 meatballs.)
Bake meatballs until well browned underneath, about 15 minutes. Using a stiff metal spatula, pry up and turn over meatballs (they may want to stick a bit). Bake until browned on second side and an instant-read thermometer inserted into the center of each one registers at least 160°, about 4 to 5 minutes more.
Serve over rice garnished with chopped cilantro, if desired. Serve with sauce (or tzatziki) and lemon wedges.