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.

Banana Bread Crumb Cake

I was planning to make banana bread but then told my husband about this cake. He did not hesitate before casting his vote. 😉 It was incredibly moist and delicious- and easy to make. I loved the crumb layer inside the cake.

This recipe was adapted from cookiesandcups.com. I weighed the ingredients, used unsalted butter, incorporated whole wheat pastry flour and cinnamon, omitted the glaze, and modified the baking time for a convection oven. We ate it for breakfast and dessert!

Yield: one 9×13-inch cake

For the Cake:

  • 120 g (1 cup) all-purpose flour
  • 120 g (1 cup) whole wheat pastry flour
  • 3 tsp baking powder
  • 1 tsp Morton kosher salt
  • 1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 3 ripe medium-sized bananas, mashed
  • 8 T (1 stick, 1/2 cup) unsalted butter, room temperature
  • 400 g (2 cups) granulated sugar
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1 tsp pure vanilla extract
  • 1 cup milk (I used 2%)

For the Crumb Filling & Crumb Topping:

  • 16 T (2 sticks, 1 cup) cold unsalted butter, cubed
  • 432 g (2 cups) light brown sugar
  • 120 g (1 cup) all-purpose flour
  • 120 g (1 cup) whole wheat pastry flour
  • pinch coarse salt
  1. Preheat oven to 350°F. (I set my oven to true convection.)
  2. Coat a 9×13 metal baking dish with baking spray, line with parchment paper (overhang on long sides), lightly coat with baking spray; set aside.
  3. Make the Cake Batter: In a medium bowl whisk together flour, baking powder, salt, and cinnamon. Set aside.
  4. In a large bowl stir together the mashed bananas, butter, sugar, eggs and vanilla until mixed well.
  5. Add in the flour mixture and milk in alternating portions and stir until combined. Set batter aside while you make your crumb mixture.
  6. Make the Crumb Filling & Crumb Topping: In a large bowl combine the cold, cubed butter, light brown sugar, and flours using a pastry blender or fork until a coarse crumb forms.
  7. To Assemble: Pour 1/2 of the batter into the prepared pan. Top with 1/3 of the crumb mixture. Cover the filling with the remaining batter and then top with remaining crumb mixture.
  8. Bake for 40 minutes on convection or up to 50-55 minutes in a conventional oven, or until the center is set and a toothpick comes out clean.
  9. Serve warm or at room temperature. Store leftovers tightly wrapped at room temperature.

Raw Zucchini & Chickpea Salad with Tahini Yogurt

I loved everything about this beautiful salad. We ate it with Turkish Grilled Chicken– such a wonderful meal. It was one of the best zucchini dishes I’ve ever made.

This recipe was adapted from Milk Street, contributed by Elizabeth Mindreau. It was re-created from a salad served at Coal Office, a modern Middle Eastern restaurant in London.

Yield: Serves 4 to 6

  • about 3/4 to 1 cup plain whole-milk Greek yogurt
  • 2 T tahini
  • zest from 1 large lemon, plus 1 tablespoon freshly squeezed lemon juice
  • 1 1/2 tsp plus 2 T extra-virgin olive oil, divided, plus more to serve
  • Kosher salt and ground black pepper
  • 15 1/2 ounce can chickpeas, rinsed and drained
  • 1 small shallot, halved and thinly sliced
  • 2 T red wine vinegar
  • 2 tsp za’atar
  • 2 small/medium zucchini (12 to 16 ounces total), quartered lengthwise and thinly sliced on a steep diagonal
  • 1/4 cup lightly packed fresh mint, finely chopped
  • 1/4 cup lightly packed fresh dill, finely chopped
  • 1/4 cup lightly packed fresh cilantro
  • ground sumac, to serve, optional
  1. In a medium bowl, whisk together the yogurt, tahini, lemon zest and juice, 1 1/2 teaspoons oil, 1/2 teaspoon salt and 1/4 teaspoon pepper; set aside.
  2. In a large microwave-safe bowl, stir together the chickpeas, shallot, vinegar and za’atar. Cover and microwave until the shallot is wilted, 1 1/2 to 2 minutes. Uncover and cool to room temperature, stirring occasionally. (see Tip)
  3. When the chickpeas have cooled, stir in the remaining 2 tablespoons oil, the zucchini, mint, dill and cilantro. Taste and season with salt and pepper.
  4. Transfer the chickpea-zucchini mixture to a platter, spooning it around the edge.
  5. Scoop the yogurt mixture into a mound in the center of the chickpea-zucchini mixture.
  6. Drizzle with additional oil and sprinkle with sumac, if using.

Tip: Don’t forget to cover the bowl containing the chickpeas and shallots when microwaving. Covering traps steam that helps wilt the shallots and soften the chickpeas. And remember to occasionally stir the chickpea-shallot mixture as it cools. This helps ensure the chickpeas evenly absorb the seasonings pooled at the bottom of the bowl while also hastening the cooling.

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.

Cowboy Caviar

My daughter was absolutely obsessed with making cowboy caviar this summer. This recipe made a large volume. The leftovers were perfect to have available to eat as a side, a dip, or over salad greens. Everyone loved it.

This version was adapted from The New York Times, contributed by Margaux Laskey. We ate it with tortilla chips and grilled chicken sausages for dinner. 🙂 I served the diced mango as an additional topping on the side to please everyone in my crowd.

Yield: 8 cups

  • 5 T olive oil
  • 4 T freshly squeezed lime juice or red wine vinegar
  • 3 to 4 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 tsp granulated sugar
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 1/2 beefsteak tomato, seeded, cored, and diced plus 1/2 cup cherry tomatoes, halved (or any combination of tomatoes resulting about 1 cup diced)
  • 1/2 red onion, finely diced
  • 1 (15-ounce) can black beans, drained and rinsed
  • 1 (15-ounce) can pinto beans or black-eyed peas, drained and rinsed
  • 1 1/2 cups fresh corn kernels (from about 2 to 4 cobs) or thawed, drained frozen sweet corn (about 8 ounces)(I used kernels from 3 ears of corn)
  • 1 red, orange, or yellow bell pepper, seeded and finely diced
  • 1 jalapeño, seeded and finely diced
  • 1/2 cup chopped cilantro leaves and tender stems, plus more for garnish, if desired
  • 1 avocado, diced, optional
  • 4 oz feta cheese, crumbled, optional
  • 1 mango, diced, optional
  • 1-2 scallions, white and green parts, chopped, for garnish, optional
  • tortilla chips, for serving
  1. Make the dressing: In a medium bowl, whisk the olive oil, vinegar, garlic, sugar, 1/2 teaspoon salt and 1/2 teaspoon pepper to combine.
  2. Cut the corn kernels off the cob directly into the bowl with the dressing.
  3. Add the tomatoes, red onion, black beans, pinto/black-eyed peas, bell pepper, jalapeño and cilantro. Toss to combine and season with salt and pepper to taste.
  4. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate for 2 hours before serving.
  5. To serve, toss well and season to taste. Add the diced avocado, crumbled feta, and diced mango, if using.
  6. Transfer to a serving dish. Sprinkle with scallions and serve with tortilla chips. (Alternatively, the avocado can also be served over the top.)

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 Corn & Scallion Salad

We shopped at the farmers market to get beautiful corn and scallions for this summer side dish. I could happily eat corn and basil every day all summer long. 😉

This salad was very fresh and light. It was a perfect accompaniment to our dinner of grilled burgers (and Impossible burgers), pickles, tomato slices drizzled with basil vinaigrette, and potato chips, of course. We even had brownie ice cream sandwiches for dessert. A summer feast.

This recipe is from Bon Appetit, contributed by Zaynab Issa. I incorporated my CSA tomatoes and backyard basil. We ate it immediately but the components can also be made in advance. Perfect.

Yield: 4 to 6 servings

  • cooking oil spray, for grill grates
  • 5 T extra-virgin olive oil
  • 4 ears of corn, husked
  • 1 bunch scallions (I used 4 huge scallions)
  • 2 T freshly squeezed lime juice (I used 1/2 of a large lime)
  • 2 T sherry vinegar or red wine vinegar
  • 1 1/2 tsp Diamond Crystal or 1 tsp Morton kosher salt
  • freshly ground black pepper, to taste
  • 12 oz mixed heirloom tomatoes, chopped, and/or cherry or grape tomatoes, halved
  • 1 cup sweet basil, chiffonade, plus more for garnish
  1. Prepare a grill for medium-high heat; oil grate (before heating).
  2. Grill husked corn and scallions, turning occasionally, until very tender and charred and blackened in spots, 10–12 minutes for corn, 5–7 minutes for scallions. (Alternatively, you can cut kernels from cobs in slabs and slice scallions into ¼”–½” pieces; cook together in a dry large cast-iron skillet over medium-high heat, turning and stirring occasionally, until charred in spots, about 4 minutes.)
  3. Transfer to a cutting board and let cool.
  4. Meanwhile, whisk lime juice, sherry vinegar, salt, and olive oil in a large bowl to combine; season vinaigrette generously with freshly ground black pepper.
  5. Cut corn kernels from cobs in slabs and slice scallions into 1/2-inch pieces.
  6. Add corn kernels, scallions, tomatoes, and basil to vinaigrette and gently toss to combine.
  7. Top corn and scallion salad with more basil just before serving.

Do ahead: Corn and scallions can be grilled and vinaigrette can be made 3 days ahead; wrap corn and scallions separately and chill. Cover and chill vinaigrette. Salad (without basil topping) can be assembled 3 hours ahead; cover and chill.

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