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.

Creamy Ricotta & Herb Pasta

This quick summer dish gobbled up the cilantro from my CSA share. The sauce was silky and fresh.

The recipe was adapted from The New York Times, contributed by Melissa Clark. I reduced the oil and modified the method. Next time I may add some lemon zest and/or toasted pine nuts. Easy and delicious!

  • salt
  • 1 pound short pasta, such as shells, cavatappi, chiocciole, farfalle, ditali or wagon wheels (I used cascatelli)
  • about 12 ounces fresh, whole-milk ricotta (about 1 1/2 cups)
  • 3/4 to 1 cup freshly grated Parmesan, plus more for serving (I used Parmigiano-Reggiano)
  • 4 T (1/4 cup) extra-virgin olive oil, plus more for serving
  • 1/2 to 1 tablespoon freshly ground black pepper, plus more for serving
  • 2 1/2 cups soft herbs, packed, such as cilantro, basil, chives, fennel fronds, parsley, mint, tarragon, chervil or dill (try for a combination of at least 3 kinds), coarsely chopped (I used a food processor)
  • lemon zest, optional
  • handful of toasted pine nuts, optional
  1. Bring a large pot of well-salted water to a boil over high heat. Add the pasta and cook until al dente, according to package instructions. Reserve 2 cups pasta cooking water, then drain the pasta.
  2. In the same pot, make the sauce: Add ricotta, Parmesan, olive oil, pepper and a large pinch or two of coarse salt, and stir until well combined.
  3. Add 1 cup pasta water to the sauce and stir until smooth.
  4. Coarsely chop the herbs with a food processor, if desired. (I used 1 cup dill, 1 cup cilantro, 1/4 cup parsley, and 1/4 cup basil.)
  5. Add the cooked pasta and herbs, and continue to stir vigorously until the noodles are well coated. Add more pasta water as needed for a smooth, soupy sauce. Taste and add more salt if needed.
  6. Incorporate lemon zest and/or pine nuts, if using.
  7. To serve, spoon the pasta into a serving bowl or individual bowls and finish with more Parmesan, drizzle of olive oil and more pepper, as desired.

Lemony Greek Meatball Soup (Youvarlakia Avgolemono)

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
  1. 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.
  2. 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.)
  3. Cover and chill for at least 20 minutes or up to 24 hours. This helps the meatballs keep their shape while cooking.
  4. 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.
  5. 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.
  6. Slowly drizzle the egg-lemon mixture back into the pot with the meatballs, stirring gently so you don’t break apart the meatballs.
  7. 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.
  8. 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.)
  9. Garnish with nutmeg, if you like, and dill, and serve.

Oven-Baked Pearl Couscous with Roasted Tomatoes, Chickpeas & Feta

I have served this flavorful dish as a vegetarian main dish served over baby spinach and as a side dish with rotisserie chicken, roasted cauliflower and green salad. So versatile! I also love that it is made in one pan.

The recipe was adapted from The New York Times, contributed by Melissa Clark. I used Trader Joe’s Harvest Grain Blend with Couscous with Quinoa, Orzo, and Garbanzo Beans and modified the proportions and method. Nice.

Yield: Serves 4 as a main dish or 6 as a side dish

  • 1 pint (2 cups) grape tomatoes, halved (or a combination grape & small Campari- quartered)
  • 1 large shallot, halved and thinly sliced
  • 1/4 cup sliced scallions, for garnish (about 2 large)
  • 2 T extra-virgin olive oil, plus more for drizzling
  • 1 T balsamic vinegar, plus more for drizzling
  • 2 to 3 large garlic cloves, finely grated or minced
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons kosher salt, plus more as needed
  • 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper, plus more for serving
  • 3 oregano, rosemary or sage sprigs
  • 2 cups vegetable stock or water (I used 1 cup chicken stock and 1 cup water)
  • 1/3 cup chopped cilantro, dill or parsley, plus more for serving
  • 1/2 teaspoon finely grated lemon zest (from 1/2 lemon)
  • 3/4 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 8 ounces pearl couscous (1 1/2 cups)(I used Trader Joe’s Harvest Brain blend)
  • 1 (15-ounce) can chickpeas, drained and rinsed
  • 1 1/2 cups feta, crumbled (about 6 ounces)
  • 1/3 cup freshly grated Parmesan (1 1/2 ounces)( I used Parmigiano-Reggiano)
  1. Heat oven to 425 degrees. (I set my oven to convection roast.)
  2. In a 9×13-inch baking dish, cake pan or gratin dish (I used a ceramic 9×13 baking dish), toss together tomatoes, shallot, 2 tablespoons oil, 1 tablespoon vinegar, garlic, 1/2 teaspoon salt, pepper and rosemary, oregano, or sage sprigs. Roast until tomatoes are tender, about 15 minutes.
  3. While tomatoes roast, heat the stock (or stock and water) until it boils, then stir in remaining 1 teaspoon salt, adding more to taste. (You want a well-seasoned broth here to flavor the couscous.)
  4. Stir in cilantro, lemon zest and cumin.
  5. Remove tomatoes from oven and fold in couscous, chickpeas and hot stock mixture. Cover pan tightly with foil, and return to oven for 20 minutes.
  6. Remove foil and fold in the Parmesan and about 3/4ths of the feta (save the rest for garnish). Bake uncovered until feta starts to melt, another 5 minutes.
  7. To serve, pull out and discard herb sprigs if you like, and spoon couscous into bowls. (I served it in the baking dish as a side dish.)
  8. Top with remaining feta, more Parmesan, scallions, more herbs, pepper and a drizzle of olive oil and balsamic vinegar, as desired.

Summer Fruit Buckle

This very special breakfast treat was more clafoutis or bread pudding-like than coffee cake-like. It was eggy, moist, and loaded with fruit. Practically any combination of summer fruit could be used. I used blueberries, strawberries, and a yellow nectarine. Great.

The recipe was adapted from The New York Times, contributed by Melissa Clark. I incorporated whole wheat pastry flour. I also reduced the baking time for a convection oven. The original recipe notes that the sugar can be adjusted by one or two tablespoons, reduced or added, depending upon the sweetness and tartness of the fruit used.

Yield: one 9-inch cake

  • 1/2 cup/114 grams (1 stick) butter, at room temperature, plus more for greasing pan
  • 1/2 cup/100 grams granulated sugar, more for sprinkling
  • 1/4 cup/55 grams light brown sugar
  • 3 large eggs, at room temperature
  • finely grated lemon zest from 1 large lemon
  • 1 teaspoon/5 milliliters vanilla extract
  • 1 1/4 cups/156 grams all-purpose flour (I used 100g all-purpose flour + 56g whole wheat pastry flour)
  • 1/2 teaspoon fine sea salt
  • 1/4 to 1/2 teaspoon grated nutmeg
  • 1/4 teaspoon baking powder
  • 4 1/2 cups summer berries and/or chopped fruit (a mix of blueberries, raspberries, blackberries or use any one kind)(peaches, nectarines, figs, or plums can also be incorporated)(I used 2 cups blueberries + 2 cups strawberries + 1 chopped yellow nectarine)
  •  cinnamon, for dusting, optional
  •  Confectioners’ sugar, for dusting
  1. Heat oven to 375 degrees, preferably on convection.
  2. Butter a 9-inch round cake pan. (or coat with cooking oil spray)
  3. In the bowl of an electric mixer, add butter, granulated sugar and brown sugar and beat until light and fluffy.
  4. Add eggs one at a time, then add lemon zest and vanilla and mix until combined.
  5. In a separate bowl, combine flour, salt, nutmeg and baking powder, and whisk to combine.
  6. Add dry ingredients to egg mixture and mix until just combined.
  7. Gently fold fruit into the batter, then spread batter in pan and sprinkle lightly with more granulated sugar.
  8. Bake for 30 to 40 minutes in a convection oven, or up to 50 minutes in a standard oven, or until top is golden and cake is cooked through.
  9. Allow cake to cool, then sprinkle with cinnamon, if using, and confectioners’ sugar.

Blueberry & White Peach Graham Galette

This fabulous galette was oozing with delicious juices. I loved that the crust incorporated crushed graham crackers. It was fabulous with and without vanilla ice cream.

This summer galette recipe was adapted from Bon Appétit, contributed by Samantha Seneviratne. I modified the method, used white peaches, and sprinkled the dough with turbinado sugar. I weighed the dry ingredients as well.

Yield: Serves 8

For the Dough:

  • 4 graham crackers (about 2 oz)
  • 1 cup (125 g) all-purpose flour
  • 1 T granulated sugar
  • 3/4 tsp Diamond Crystal or 1/2 tsp Morton kosher salt
  • 10 T chilled unsalted butter, cut into pieces

For the Filling & to Finish:

  • 2 large peaches (about 12 oz), halved, pitted, & thinly sliced (I used white peaches)
  • 2 cups fresh blueberries
  • 1 T cornstarch
  • pinch of coarse salt
  • 3/4 tsp finely grated lemon zest (I used the zest of 1/2 of a large lemon)
  • 1/4 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 1/3 cup (67 g) granulated sugar
  • all-purpose flour (for rolling dough)
  • 1 large egg, beaten to blend
  • 2 T chilled unsalted butter, cut into pieces
  • turbinado sugar, for sprinkling
  • vanilla ice cream, for serving, optional

To Make the Dough:

  1. Process graham crackers, flour, sugar, and salt in a food processor until crackers become crumbs and mixture is combined.
  2. Add butter; pulse until mixture resembles coarse sand with some larger pieces remaining.
  3. Add ice water by the tablespoonful, pulsing after each addition, until evenly moistened and dough holds together when squeezed (2–4 tablespoons).
  4. Pat into a 1-inch thick disk and wrap tightly in parchment paper or plastic wrap. Chill at least 1 hour.

Do ahead: Dough can be made 3 days ahead. Keep chilled. (I made the dough 2 days in advance.)

To Make the Filling & to Finish:

  1. Preheat oven to 400°, preferably on convection.
  2. Toss peach slices, blueberries, cornstarch, salt, lemon zest, cinnamon, and 1/3 cup (67 g) granulated sugar in a large bowl.
  3. Unwrap dough and roll out between lightly floured sheets of plastic wrap or parchment to a 12″ round. The round will be approximately 1/8-inch thick.
  4. Transfer dough to a piece of parchment paper the size of a rimmed baking sheet.
  5. Arrange fruit on top, leaving a 1 1/4-inch border.
  6. Lift dough edges up and over fruit, pleating as needed.
  7. Using parchment paper, slide galette onto the rimmed baking sheet; chill 10 to 15 minutes.
  8. Brush top of pastry with egg and sprinkle with turbinado sugar.
  9. Dot filling with butter.
  10. Bake galette until fruit is softened and crust is deep golden brown, 40–50 minutes (some juice may leak out). (Tons of juice leaked out of mine!)
  11. Serve galette warm or at room temperature with scoops of ice cream, if desired.

Strawberry-Cornmeal-Olive Oil Snacking Cake

My family really embraces strawberry season. We can’t get enough freshly picked Long Island berries! 🙂 After making our essential Strawberry-Vanilla Bean Jam, I made this super moist, coarse-textured snack cake which incorporated my special jam.

I baked the cake a day in advance and served it for dessert with homemade Fresh Strawberry Gelato. Yes, it was over the top! We ate the leftovers for breakfast. In retrospect, although it is sweet enough to be a dessert, I think that I would serve it for breakfast, or as a special snack with tea or coffee, next time. It was a wonderful breakfast- such a treat.

This recipe was adapted from Bon Appétit, contributed by Sarah Jampel. I modified the baking time and used homemade jam. The jam sinks to the bottom of the cake and, with the granulated sugar coating, forms a crispy, caramelized crust. Yum.

Yield: One 13×9-inch sheet cake

  • 8 to 10 oz strawberries, hulled, thinly sliced lengthwise
  • 238 g (1 cup plus 3 T) granulated sugar, divided, plus more for pan
  • 1 tsp Kosher salt, plus more
  • 3/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil, plus more for pan (or use cooking spray for pan)
  • 188 g (1 1/2 cups) all-purpose flour
  • 60 g (1/2 cup) cornmeal, preferably finely ground
  • 1/2 tsp baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp baking soda
  • 3 large eggs
  • 2 large egg yolks
  • 1/2 cup plus 2 T sour cream
  • finely grated zest of 2 lemons
  • 3 T freshly squeezed lemon juice
  • 2 tsp pure vanilla extract
  • 1/2 cup strawberry jam, stirred (original recipe recommends Bonne Maman Intense)
  1. Preheat oven to 350°, preferably on convection.
  2. Gently toss strawberries, 1 tablespoon of granulated sugar, and a pinch of coarse salt in a medium bowl. Let sit, stirring occasionally, until ready to use.
  3. Grease a 13×9-inch metal baking pan with oil or cooking spray. Line with parchment paper, leaving an overhang on 2 long sides.
  4. Grease parchment with oil or cooking oil spray. Generously sprinkle pan and parchment with sugar, tilting to coat pan in an even layer; tap out excess.
  5. Whisk flour, cornmeal, baking powder, baking soda, 200 g (1 cup) sugar, and 1 teaspoon coarse salt in a medium bowl.
  6. Whisk eggs, egg yolks, sour cream, lemon zest, lemon juice, and vanilla in a large bowl until well combined.
  7. Add dry ingredients to sour cream mixture and whisk gently to combine.
  8. Using a spatula, gradually fold in 3/4 cup oil until batter is smooth and homogenous with all of the oil incorporated.
  9. Scrape batter into prepared pan and spread evenly.
  10. Stir the strawberry jam to make more fluid. Using a small spoon, dollop jam onto surface. (I made 36 small dollops over the surface of the cake.) Using a butter knife or small offset spatula, gently swirl jam into batter.
  11. Arrange reserved strawberries on top of batter in even rows, touching at widest points. (You may have extra sliced berries; reserve for another use.) See note.
  12. Sprinkle all over with remaining 2 tablespoons of granulated sugar.
  13. Bake cake until risen and deeply bronzed with no damp spots in the middle, the sides begin to pull away from the pan, and a tester inserted into the center comes out clean, about 30 minutes in a convection oven or up to 40–45 minutes in a standard oven.

Note: Because the strawberries will shrink and sink a bit during baking (how much depends on their size and sweetness), make sure they’re placed shoulder to shoulder on top of the batter. (My design didn’t hold up very well during the baking process but no one seemed to mind.)

Do Ahead: Cake can be made 4 days ahead. Cover with foil or plastic wrap and store at room temperature.

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