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)
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.)
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.)
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.)
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.)
Cook, undisturbed, until well browned underneath, about 2 to 3 minutes.
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).
Using a slotted spoon, transfer to a large plate.
Pour an additional 1 tablespoon of extra-virgin olive oil into pot and repeat process with remaining meat mixture. (the remaining 8 meatballs)
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.
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.)
Meanwhile, whisk together ricotta, grated lemon zest, and a large pinch of salt in small bowl until smooth; set aside.
Cook broken lasagna noodles in large pot of boiling salted water, stirring occasionally, until just shy of al dente, about 3 minutes.
Using tongs, drop noodles into pot with sauce and cook, stirring gently, until sauce coats pasta.
Divide pasta among shallow bowls and spoon dollops of reserved lemony ricotta over each.
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.
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
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
4 potato rolls, burger buns or ciabatta rolls
baby spinach or arugula, for serving
Lightly grease a large plate with olive oil or cooking oil spray and set aside.
In a medium bowl, combine 1/2 cup Parmesan, basil, tomato paste, garlic and 1 teaspoon salt.
Gently incorporate the ground meat into the cheese mixture.
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.
Transfer to the greased plate, cover, and refrigerate. (This helps maintain the shape and also prevents the juices and fat from leaking.)
On a rimmed plate, sprinkle the tomato slices with salt.
If using grated mozzarella, stir together the mozzarella and the remaining 2 tablespoons Parmesan.
Preheat a grill to medium heat. (I used a griddle on the grill and preheated it at this time too.)
Toast the buns on the preheated grill, if desired. (I omitted this step.)
Oil the grill griddle and add the patties. Cook until browned underneath, 3 to 5 minutes. (Reduce heat if the patties are burning.)
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).
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.
Pat the tomatoes dry.
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.
My mom and I absolutely love Greek avgolemono soup. Recently, I made this meatball version when she was visiting. Springtime in a bowl! Light, bright and fresh.
This recipe was adapted from The New York Times, contributed by Melissa Clark. I used homemade stock and modified the method.
Yield: Serves 4
1 pound ground chicken, ground turkey, or beef, very cold
3/4 cup chopped fresh dill or parsley, plus more for garnish, divided
1/2 cup grated yellow onion (from about 1 small onion)
1/4 cup grated carrot (from about 1 carrot)
1/4 cup uncooked long-grain rice, such as Basmati or Carolina, well rinsed and drained
2 garlic cloves, finely grated, pushed through a garlic press, or minced
1 teaspoon fine sea salt, plus more as needed
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper, plus more as needed
1/2 teaspoon finely grated lemon zest
6 cups chicken stock (I used 4 cups homemade turkey stock + 2 cups chicken stock)
2 large eggs, at room temperature
1/3 cup fresh lemon juice (from about 2 lemons)
freshly grated nutmeg, for serving, optional
In a large mixing bowl, combine ground chicken, 1/4 cup dill, onion, carrot, rice, garlic, salt, pepper and lemon zest. Gently mix with your hands until well combined.
Gently form the mixture into 24 to 30 meatballs, each about 1 1/4 inches in diameter, placing them on a plate or baking pan. (I used a cookie scoop to evenly ration the meat mixture.)
Cover and chill for at least 20 minutes or up to 24 hours. This helps the meatballs keep their shape while cooking.
In a large pot, bring stock to a boil over high heat. Reduce to medium and use a slotted spoon to carefully add meatballs to the pot. The broth should cover the tops of the meatballs by about 1/2 inch. If not, add a little water. Simmer gently, adjusting the heat so the broth doesn’t boil, until meatballs are cooked through and rice is tender, 25 to 35 minutes. (You can break open a meatball to test it.) Remove pot from heat.
In a medium bowl, whisk together eggs and lemon juice until just mixed. Slowly add a ladle of warm broth to egg-lemon mixture, whisking constantly. Whisk in another two ladles of broth to temper the egg mixture.
Slowly drizzle the egg-lemon mixture back into the pot with the meatballs, stirring gently so you don’t break apart the meatballs.
Return the pot to medium-low heat until it just starts to simmer. (Wait for a bubble or two to appear, but don’t let the pot boil.) The broth should be silky.
Remove from heat, stir in remaining 1/2 cup dill. Taste and add salt and pepper, if needed. (It may need quite a bit of salt if you are starting with unsalted broth.)
Garnish with nutmeg, if you like, and dill, and serve.
This comfort food dish was very well-received in my house. Everyone in my family was fighting over the leftovers! It was easy, full-flavored, and absolutely delicious.
The recipe was adapted from Bon Appétit, contributed by Chris Morocco. I modified the proportions and substituted sour cream for the heavy cream. I also adjusted the consistency of the finished dish with pasta cooking water. Great.
Yield: Serves 8
6 T extra-virgin olive oil, divided
1 3/4 lbs ground pork, turkey, beef, or chicken, preferably dark meat
2 medium onions, finely chopped
8 large garlic cloves, thinly sliced
3 Calabrian chiles in oil, finely chopped, or 1 1/2 tsp crushed red pepper flakes
7 T double-concentrated tomato paste
7 T sour cream or heavy cream
freshly ground black pepper
1 1/4 to 1 1/2 lbs (20 to 24 oz) rigatoni, gemelli or other short pasta
2 oz Parmesan, finely grated, plus more for serving (I used Parmigiano-Reggiano)
basil leaves, for serving
Heat 3 tablespoons of oil in a large Dutch oven over medium to medium-high.
Add ground meat in 12–14 pieces (patties), spacing evenly, and season with salt.
Let cook, undisturbed, until deeply browned underneath, about 3 minutes.
Turn over and cook until deeply browned on opposite side, about 3 minutes. Transfer to a plate. (It won’t be cooked through.)
Add remaining 3 tablespoons of oil to pot over medium heat.
Cook onion, stirring often, until softened and just beginning to turn golden around the edges, about 5 minutes.
Add garlic and cook, stirring often, until fragrant, about 2 minutes.
Add chiles/red pepper flakes and tomato paste and cook, stirring often, until paste is slightly darkened in color, about 3 minutes.
Return meat to the pot and break up into small pieces.
Add sour cream/heavy cream and 2 1/4 cups water.
Bring to a simmer, then reduce heat, and simmer gently until liquid is reduced by one third and flavors have come together, 15–20 minutes.
Season ragù with salt and pepper.
Meanwhile, cook pasta in a large pot of boiling salted water, stirring occasionally, until al dente. Drain, reserving 2 cups pasta cooking liquid.
Add pasta to ragù along with 1 cup pasta cooking liquid and Parmesan.
Cook, stirring and adding more pasta cooking liquid if needed, until sauce coats pasta, about 2 minutes.
Transfer to a serving dish or individual bowls. Garnish with basil and reserved Parmesan. Serve.
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.
Many years ago, my husband and I first tried Romesco sauce while on vacation in Barcelona. It was served with grilled ramps. We were instant fans! Using jarred fire-roasted red peppers as a shortcut is an absolute genius way to create it. I served the meatballs and sauce in this dish with slices of sourdough baguette to sop up every last drop. 🙂
This recipe was adapted from Bon Appétit, contributed by Sara Frost. I modified the proportions. The original recipe notes that the delicious sauce can add richness to other lean proteins such as fish, pan-roasted chicken breast and can also be used as a dip for vegetables. Next time, I may serve this dish with grilled scallions. Yum.
My son ate the leftover meatballs and baguette as a luxurious sandwich with melted cheese, topped with Romesco sauce, of course. This dish could also be served as a fabulous appetizer.
Yield: Serves 4 to 6
1 3/4 lbs ground turkey
2 large eggs, beaten to blend
1/2 cup panko
2 tsp ground cumin
2 tsp onion powder
2 tsp paprika
4 to 6 T finely chopped parsley, plus more coarsely chopped for serving
1 1/2 tsp kosher salt, plus more to taste
2 T plus 1/2 cup olive oil
1/2 cup toasted almonds (I used toasted sliced almonds)
1 12 to 16-oz jar fire-roasted peppers in water, drained (I used Trader Joe’s)
2 to 4 small garlic cloves, crushed (I used a garlic press)
1 T red wine vinegar
1/4 tsp cayenne pepper
finely grated zest of half of a lemon
crusty bread, for serving, optional (I served it with a sourdough baguette)
Preheat oven to 425°. (I set my oven to convection roast.)
Using your hands, mix ground turkey, eggs, panko, cumin, onion powder, paprika, parsley, and 1 1/2 teaspoons of salt in a large bowl.
Working one at a time, use a 1 1/2-inch scoop out to ration out the mixture. (I had 28 meatballs.) Place on a plate.
Heat 2 tablespoons of oil in a large ovenproof skillet over medium. (I used a large stainless steel “all-in-one” pan.)
Working in 2 batches, cook meatballs until golden brown all over, about 2 minutes per side.
Transfer skillet with all of the meatballs to oven and bake until cooked through, 5 to 7 minutes.
While the meatballs are baking, pulse almonds in a food processor until coarsely ground. Transfer to a medium bowl.
Pulse drained fire-roasted peppers, garlic, vinegar, and cayenne in food processor until almost smooth.
Transfer to bowl with almonds and stir in remaining 1/2 cup oil; season Romesco sauce with salt, to taste.
Spoon romesco sauce onto a platter or into shallow bowls; arrange meatballs on top.
Finely grate lemon zest over and scatter coarsely chopped parsley on top. Serve with crusty bread, as desired.
I don’t typically make dishes with Asian flavors, so this dish was a nice change of pace. Tsukune, Japanese grilled chicken meatballs, and the sweet and sour sauce they are typically served with were the inspiration behind this weeknight dish. The sauce was essential to this sheet-pan meal as well- we repeatedly drizzled it over everything.
This recipe was adapted from Bon Appétit, contributed by Deb Perelman. I used freshly ground chicken thighs and omitted the water in the meatballs. The original recipe suggests using this tasty sauce on pork chops as well.
Yield: Serves 4
For the Sauce:
2/3 cup ketchup
4 T (1/4 cup) Worcestershire sauce
2 T rice cooking wine or water
2 T honey
4 tsp soy sauce
1 1/2″ piece ginger, peeled, finely grated
1/2 tsp freshly ground black pepper
For the Meatballs & Assembly:
2 heads of broccoli or 2 large broccoli crowns (about 1 1/2 lbs)
2 to 3 T vegetable oil, divided (I used canola oil)
2 1/2 tsp kosher salt, divided
crushed red pepper flakes, optional
1 to 1 1/4 lbs ground chicken (I used freshly ground chicken thighs)
1 large egg, beaten to blend
4 scallions, thinly sliced, plus more for serving
2 garlic cloves, finely grated
2″ piece ginger, peeled, finely grated
1/3 cup panko (Japanese breadcrumbs)
1 T toasted sesame oil
1/4 tsp freshly ground black pepper
cooked rice, for serving (I used brown Basmati rice)
lightly toasted sesame seeds, for serving, optional
To Make the Sauce:
Mix ketchup, Worcestershire sauce, rice wine or water, honey, soy sauce, ginger, and pepper in a small saucepan.
Measure out 1/4 cup mixture into a small bowl; set aside for glazing meatballs later.
Bring remaining mixture to a simmer over medium-high heat, stirring occasionally and reducing heat if needed, until sauce thickens, about 5 minutes. Transfer sauce to a small bowl.
To Make the Meatballs & Finish the Dish:
If freshly grinding chicken, use a meat grinder with the medium disk. Grind trimmed chunks of meat. (I used boneless, skinless chicken thighs.) Chill ground meat until ready to use.
Place a rack in upper third of oven; preheat to 450°. (I set my oven to convection roast.)
Line a rimmed baking sheet with foil.
Trim broccoli stems and remove from crown. Peel off tough outer skin; slice crosswise into ½” pieces.
Cut florets into 2″ pieces.
Toss on prepared baking sheet with 1 to 2 tablespoons of vegetable oil, 1 teaspoon salt, and a few pinches of red pepper flakes (if using). (I used a dash or red pepper flakes.)
Push broccoli to the edges of baking sheet to create a space for meatballs.
Brush space in the center of the pan with remaining 1 tablespoon of vegetable oil.
Mix chicken, egg, scallions, garlic, ginger, panko, sesame oil, pepper, and remaining 1 1/2 tsp salt in a medium bowl.
Using wet hands or a large cookie scoop, form into twelve 1 1/2″-diameter meatballs. (I placed the rationed scoops on a plate and then gently formed them into meatballs.)
Arrange the meatballs on the baking sheet; brush with some of the reserved glazing mixture.
Bake until meatballs are cooked through, 14–18 minutes, rotating halfway through the baking time
Remove from oven; heat broiler.
Brush meatballs with remaining glazing mixture; broil until broccoli is charred and meatballs are browned in spots, about 3 to 5 minutes- watching carefully.
Spoon meatballs and broccoli over rice in bowl. Drizzle with sauce and sprinkle with sesame seeds and scallion slices, as desired. Serve with additional sauce on the side to pass at the table.