Zucchini Casserole

Zucchini Casserole via @runwaychef #vegetarian What I’m about to say is going to sound a little odd, especially since part of my job is writing recipes, buuuut……I almost never follow a recipe (don’t worry, I do test all the recipes that make it onto this blog). I have a folder full of recipes that rarely get touched, magazines that only get browsed through, and cookbooks that are used for decorative purposes. About 95% of what I cook, I just wing. I throw in a little of this, a little of that, and a pinch of this (I rarely measure things either) and it just works. This is how I’ve cooked most of my life as has my Mom. I do get inspiration from magazines and cookbooks, but the recipes that inspire me are ones that I usually follow more as guidelines than as an actual recipe. Obviously, then, for me to say I found a recipe that I like and follow almost to a ‘T’ is a big deal. Such is the case with this zucchini casserole recipe. My Mom found this recipe a while back and started making it all the time. When I moved out, it was one of the recipes I made sure to take with me. Mr. RC and I now have it on a pretty regular basis. It’s healthy and light enough for summer but comforting enough for cold winter days. And in case you’re worried about satisfying the carnivores in your life, you’ll be happy to know Mr. RC loves his meat but is constantly requesting this dish. Whether you follow recipes or you don’t, this is one I highly suggest you add to your arsenal.

Zucchini Casserole via @runwaychef Zucchini Casserole via @runwaychef Zucchini Casserole via @runwaychef Zucchini Casserole via @runwaychef Zucchini Casserole via @runwaychef

Zucchini Casserole
Serves 6
A tangy and nutty casserole that is both healthy and light while also being the perfect comfort food
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Prep Time
30 min
Cook Time
45 min
Total Time
1 hr 30 min
Prep Time
30 min
Cook Time
45 min
Total Time
1 hr 30 min
Ingredients
  1. 3/4 cup bulgur (I've also use quinoa and brown rice)
  2. 3/4 cup boiling water
  3. 2 1/2 tablespoons olive oil
  4. 2 cups sliced onions (about 1 1/2-2 medium-sized onions)
  5. 4 garlic cloves, minced or pressed
  6. 6 cups thinly sliced zucchini or summer squash (about 3 small or 2 medium/large zucchini)
  7. 1/2 teaspoon dried oregano
  8. 1/2 teaspoon dried basil
  9. A dash of black pepper
  10. 2 eggs
  11. 1 cup feta cheese crumbles (5 ounces)
  12. 1 cup cottage cheese
  13. 1/4-3/4 cup chopped fresh parsley (depending on tastes preferences)
  14. 3 tablespoons tomato paste
  15. 3 tablespoon soy sauce
  16. 1 cup grated cheddar cheese (3 ounces)
  17. 2 medium tomatoes, thinly sliced (or a handful of cherry tomatoes, sliced)
  18. 1 1/2 tablespoons of sesame seeds (optional)
Instructions
  1. In a small bowl place the bulgur and the boiling water. Stir and set aside until the water has been absorbed.
  2. In a medium-sized skillet, sauté the onions and garlic in the oil until the onions are just translucent. Add the zucchini, dried herbs, and black pepper and continue to sauté on medium to low heat until the zucchini is tender. I sometimes cover the pan with a lead to help the veggies cooke faster.
  3. In a small bowl, lightly beat the eggs, then mix in the cottage cheese and feta cheese.
  4. To the bulgur, add the tomato paste, soy sauce and parsley and stir until combined.
  5. To assemble the casserole, grease a 9x9" pan. Then layer the bulgur mixture on the bottome, the sautéed vegetables in the middle, and finish with the feta mixture. Top with the cheddar and the tomatoes.
  6. Cover with foil then bake at 350 degrees for 45 minutes. I usually take the foil off after about 30 minutes so that the top gets crustier.
  7. Remove from the oven and let sit for 5-10 minutes for easier serving. Store leftovers tightly covered in the fridge for up to 5 days.
Notes
  1. This pairs nicely with a tossed salad, some crusty bread and a nice glass of red wine.
  2. To bake this in a 9x13" pan, I only double the bulgur mixture.
Adapted from New Recipes from Mossewood Restaurant
Runway Chef http://www.runwaychef.com/
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3×3 Food-Veggie Burgers

veggie burgers I think I may have been drooling all over my keyboard while writing this post. I mean, have you ever seen so many good-looking veggies, er should I say veggie burgers?! Don’t get me wrong, I LOVE vegetables and we eat them every day, but sometimes they just aren’t the most appetizing things to eat. In fact when I was making our dinner menu for the month, I thought I’d have to work extra hard to plan some delicious meatless meals for Fridays (due to Lent), but to my surprise we actually eat mostly vegetarian meals as it is. Despite our menu being all “vegged out”, veggie burgers were nowhere to be found. So needless to say I was a little overly excited for this month’s 3×3 food post. Whether it’s for Meatless Mondays or No-Meat Lenten Fridays, Luci’s sweet potato veggie burgers (because we all know my obsession with sriracha can’t be stopped), Grace’s bulgur quinoa burgers (because I can’t get enough quinoa in my life) and my mediterranean mushroom burgers (lemon aioli, feta cheese, phyllo dough “bun”? Yes, yes & yes!) are sure to be on heavy rotation. Hop on over to Luci’s blog and Grace’s blog to get their recipes and continue scrolling down for mine.

Are you a fan of veggie burgers? If so, what is your favorite kind?

portabella burgers portabella mushrooms mediterranean mushroom burger portabllea mushroom burgers

Mediterranean Mushroom Burgers
Serves 2
A portabella "burger" topped with mediterranean flavors and served on a phyllo "bun"
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Prep Time
10 min
Cook Time
15 min
Total Time
30 min
Prep Time
10 min
Cook Time
15 min
Total Time
30 min
Burgers
  1. 2 large portobello mushroom caps, cleaned and dried
  2. Salt & pepper
  3. Olive oil
  4. Balsamic vinegar
Parsley Pesto
  1. 1/2 cup fresh parsley
  2. 1 tablespoon of olive oil
  3. Juice of half a lemon
  4. 1 clove of garlic
  5. Dash of salt & pepper
Lemon Aioli
  1. 4 tablespoons of mayonnaise
  2. Juice of 1 lemon
  3. 1/2 a tablespoon of fresh dill, minced
  4. 2 tablespoons of feta cheese, crumbled
Phyllo Buns
  1. Phyllo dough, unthawed
  2. Melted butter
Toppings
  1. Feta
  2. Dill
  3. Grilled pepper strips
Instructions
  1. Place the mushroom caps in a shallow baking dish. Sprinkle generously with olive oil and balsamic vinegar (I did about 3-4 tablespoons of each) along with a few pinches of salt and pepper. Cover and let marinate for 3 hours up to 3 days.
  2. When you are ready to eat the burgers, first make the sauces. For the parsley pesto, mix all the ingredients in an immersion blender or cuisinart and puree until smooth and well-blended.
  3. For the aioli, mix the mayonnaise, lemon juice and dill together in a small bowl. Stir in the feta crumbles.
  4. To make the buns, carefully cut at least 10 sheets of phyllo dough to a size a little bigger than the mushroom cap. I cut mine about 1/3 of the way down the sheet, then cut that in half. Feel free to make it as big as you would like and as thick as you would like. Start stacking the phyllo squares on a foil lined baking sheet. In between every couple layers, brush on some melted butter. Finish the top off with melted butter, as well. Bake at 350 degrees for 7-12 minutes, or until golden brown and slightly puffed.
  5. While the "buns" are cooking, place a non-stick or well-oiled grill pan (a regular skillet will work too) over medium heat. Cook the mushrooms on each side for 3-5 minutes.
  6. To assemble your burgers, first place a "bun" on your serving dish. Next spread on about 1 tablespoon of the pesto. Top that with your mushroom patty, the sautéed peppers (if you like), a dollop of the aoili, and garnish with a little dill and some more feta crumbles. Serve immediately.
Runway Chef http://www.runwaychef.com/
Kitchen Necessities

Potato Tofu Scramble

potato tofu scramble Food has always been about more than just the dishes being served or the flavors that I’m tasting. Food to me is about a story. A recipe handed down from so-and-so, a special cake made for every birthday, an ingredient reminiscent of a vacation. Many of the recipes I cook or the memories I share have to do with food (with my Italian heritage this should surprise no one), and this recipe is no different.

When I was younger, we rarely ate out, so it was pretty memorable when we did. One place in particular, the 3 Sisters Cafe, was a restaurant in a house that was situated next to our health food store. I remember eating breakfast there on several occasions, I remember the food was delicious, but I don’t ever remember what I ate. Except for these potatoes. These I got every.single.time. They were nutritious and healthy (parental-approved) but also cheesy and delicious (child-approved). I haven’t been to that restaurant in years, but that hasn’t stopped me from eating these powerhouse potatoes as a side with my eggs, as my lunch with a salad, or for dinner along with some fish or a steak. After all, when it comes to recipes, it just doesn’t get better than one that is easy, healthy, delicious, customizable, and versatile.

Potato Tofu Hash recipe potato tofu hash ingredients tofu and potatoes tofu potato hash

Potato Tofu Scramble
Serves 4
A simple, but healthy and nutritious, potato dish that packs a powerful punch for brunch, as a side dish, or for a main meal
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Prep Time
5 min
Cook Time
18 min
Total Time
25 min
Prep Time
5 min
Cook Time
18 min
Total Time
25 min
Ingredients
  1. 4 large potatoes, cut into cubes (and peeled, if you prefer)
  2. 7 ounces tofu
  3. 2 tablespoons of olive oil
  4. 1 1/3 cups salsa
  5. 1/2 cup cheese (cheddar, feta, or goat's cheese are all good)
  6. A large handful of fresh parsley (about 1/3 cup)
  7. Salt and pepper, to taste
Instructions
  1. In a small saucepan, add your potatoes and cover them with water. Bring to a boil, and cook for about 10-12 minutes, or until the potatoes are tender enough to be pricked with a knife/fork, but not falling apart. Drain the water and give the potatoes a rinse in cold water to stop the cooking.
  2. In a large skillet, heat the olive oil over medium heat. Add in the tofu and potatoes and season with salt and pepper. Cook for about 5 minutes, then stir in the salsa and at least half the parsley (more or less depending on your taste preferences). Stir to combine everything and cook for another minute or two.
  3. Scoop into serving bowls and top with a sprinkling of cheese and a little more parsley.
  4. Store leftovers in a tightly sealed container for up to three days in the refrigerator.
Notes
  1. Serve as a side at brunch (goes well with eggs) or as a side dish with a main meal. Also makes a great lunch or light dinner served along with a salad.
  2. This dish is highly customizable. You can use regular potatoes, red skin potatoes, or even sweet potatoes (also, this is a great way to use up leftover baked potatoes). Use a corn salsa or salsa verde in place of the regular salsa. Add in some olives, mushrooms, or peppers. Replace the parsley with cilantro, dill or basil, and feel free to top the whole thing off with a little ketchup or sriracha. The possibilities are endless.
Adapted from Three Sisters Cafe
Adapted from Three Sisters Cafe
Runway Chef http://www.runwaychef.com/

Roasted Vegetable Dip

roasted eggplant dip This is just so typical of me. One week I’m shoving cupcakes down your throat and the next I’m giving you a bowl of roasted vegetable dip. Shocker! Speaking of unhealthy foods, I tried a cragel this weekend. You know that crazy thing that is half croissant, half bagel. It basically rocked my world. Oh, and we also tried a french toast bagel…with cannoli cream cheese. Yes, cannoli cream cheese. Like the amazing filling inside those delicious cookies. Mixed into cream cheese. Slathered on my bagel. OOOO.EMMM.GEEEE! Forget rocking my world, that combo took my taste buds beyond the stratosphere! Once I snapped back to reality, I realized my body was screaming “Houston, we have a problem,” and I desperately needed some vegetables in my life. The veggies in the veggie cream cheese just simply wouldn’t cut it, so I whipped up a batch of roasted vegetable dip. Because it’s easy, it’s delicious, it’s low-fat, it’s gluten-free, it tastes good plain, on sandwiches, with pita or veggies and it has almost no calories in it. Basically, it wipes out my trip to the bagel shop and ensures that my heart will continue beating after all that cannoli and bagel goodness.

P.S. I made a similar version of this for a Super Bowl party a couple of years ago and it was a big hit! Be sure to add this to your Super Bowl menu, it will cancel out all the wings and chips you eat and your guests will love you for providing the one dish that people won’t feel guilty eating. 

vegetables

roast vegetables eggplant dip Roasted Vegetable Spread Roasted Vegetable Dip

Roasted Vegetable Dip
A yummy and nutritious low-calorie, low-fat, gluten free dip that's perfect for snacks, appetizers, parties or even as a sandwich spread
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Prep Time
10 min
Cook Time
35 min
Total Time
1 hr
Prep Time
10 min
Cook Time
35 min
Total Time
1 hr
Ingredients
  1. 1 medium size onion, chopped into thick slices
  2. 3 cloves of garlic, peeled
  3. 1/2 a large eggplant (or one small eggplant), chopped into thick slices
  4. 1 parsnip, peeled and chopped into thick slices
  5. 3 tablespoons of olive oil
  6. 3 tablespoons of balsamic vinegar
  7. A large handful of parsley
  8. Salt and pepper
Instructions
  1. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. Line a sheet with aluminum foil, then spread the veggies on top. Drizzle with the olive oil and vinegar, then sprinkle on a generous amount of salt and pepper (I probably used about a 1/2 teaspoon of each for my veggies). Give the veggies a slight toss to coat, then roast them in the oven for 35 minutes or until brown. Let them cool for about 10-15 minutes, then transfer them to a food processor. Add in the parsley and pulse to combine. Transfer to a serving bowl or store it in an air tight container in the refrigerator for up to 5 days. Serve with crackers, pita bread, or veggies.
Notes
  1. I have also made this with zucchini in place of the parsnips along with a head of fennel and a handful of basil and the results were just as tasty. Don't be afraid to play around and substitute different vegetables.
Runway Chef http://www.runwaychef.com/
Recipe Necessities

One-Pot Spaghetti

One-pot spaghetti

When I came across this recipe, it had my name written all over it (pasta, Italian, basil, easy) and I instantly knew I needed to make it. Silly me decided to start throwing it together before realizing I was missing half the ingredients. But they say everything happens for a reason (probably not a phrase meant for a pasta dish, but we’ll just go with it). Turns out, Mr. RC and I actually liked my highly edited version of the recipe so much better than the original (which we had made a few weeks after the above mentioned mishap). This just goes to show, that contrary to popular belief, mistakes can be a good thing….unless that mistake is drinking too much tequila, then you might have a problem.

One-pot spaghetti recipe

This pasta has quickly moved to the top of my favorites list (not an easy feat for an Italian girl with a secret, out-of-this world spaghetti and meatballs recipe that has been passed down through my family). It’s almost as easy to make as it is to turn on a microwave, it tastes delicious hot or cold, and that one whole pot thing, what a lifesaver (this also makes the perfect dish for having friends over for dinner).

easy recipe for one-pot pasta

One-Pot Spaghetti
Serves 8

1 box of Linguine or Fettucine noodles (I like whole wheat; please note you must use a thick noodle spaghetti noodle for this dish to work)
1 28 oz. can of crushed tomatoes (mine have basil added)
3 tablespoons of olive oil
1 chicken bouillon cube
1 teaspoon of garlic or regular salt
1/2 teaspoon of fresh ground pepper
2 large sprigs of basil, torn
1/2 teaspoon of red pepper flakes
4 cloves of garlic chopped
1/2 a medium-sized onion, thinly sliced (optional; I’ve made it both with and without and each way tastes equally as good)
A small chunk of parmesan rind (completely optional, but the secret to great sauce)
Grated parmesan, for serving

 

In a large pot add all the ingredients, except for the grated parmesan. Fill up the empty tomato can with water and add that to the pot as well.

ingredients for one-pot spaghetti

how to make one-pot spaghetti

Start to cook the pasta on medium high. As the noodles begin to soften, use tongs to push them down into the liquid. Once the noodles are all in the sauce, turn the burner down to medium heat. Continue cooking for 10-15 more minutes, stirring every so often, until the noodles are al dente.

easy one-pot spaghetti Serve topped with grated parmesan and torn basil leaves, as well as a fresh green salad on the side.

This recipe is an original, but the idea is based on this recipe.