Zucchini Lasagna and Spaghetti and Meatballs

I’m not really an Italian food junkie… I mean, I love pizza and pasta, but who doesn’t?  I don’t often get crazy with this genre of food though.  A lot of men I know LOVE Italian food.  It’s a pretty typical favorite of the dudes. It’s never my immediate go-to choice, but from time to time I crave two things: lasagna and spaghetti. I’ve made both of these recipes in the past two weeks, and holy banana boat! They are both so good.  Both of them made an enormous amount, so I’ve been eating on them pretty solidly ever since.  Both of these dishes have a lot in common, so I’m just going to post both of them together.  But there are some differences in texture and flavors, so I hope you will enjoy one or both of these as much as I have.

Spaghetti and Meatballs

About 8 servings

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Ingredients:

2 lbs grass fed ground beef
1 lb ground pork (Substitute Italian sausage if you enjoy that flavor)
2 eggs
2 Tbsp chopped fresh rosemary
2 Tbsp chopped fresh basil
1 Tbsp chopped fresh oregano
1 Vidalia onion, small dice
4 cloves garlic, chopped
1 28 oz. can of crushed tomatoes
1 small can of tomato paste
coconut oil approx 2 Tbsp
Salt and Pepper to taste
6-8 medium sized zucchinis, cut into noodles using a spiral slicer

Process:

This recipe requires a little forethought.  This will either need to cook overnight in a crockpot or while you’re at work during the day.

In a large skillet, melt some coconut oil.  I just put a nice big globule in there… Whatever looks right to you… Once pan is hot, add your diced onion and some salt.  Let that cook down for about 5 minutes, then add garlic and herbs.  Cook for about 2 more minutes, careful not to burn the garlic.   In a large mixing bowl, combine your meats and then add the cooked onions. And return your pan to the burner (do not rinse!)  Mix through making sure to season liberally with salt and pepper, and then add eggs. This isn’t an exact science, but I didn’t want to risk the eggs scrambling from the heat of the onions, so I added the eggs last.  Form your meat mixture into golfball sized balls.  Make sure they are packed pretty tightly or else they will come apart.

Melt a little more coconut oil in the pan and loosen any little bits that are sticking… this stuff is gold.  Add about 10 balls at a time and brown as evenly as possible all around. Once this is complete add them to your crockpot and continue working in small batches until all of the balls are browned and in the crockpot.  Make sure once your last balls are done, to scrape as much of the drippings from the pan into the crockpot as possible. All of this adds flavor. Next, empty your tomato paste and crushed tomatoes on top of your meatballs.  Turn your crockpot on low, and let this mixture cook for about 8-9 hours.  It makes your entire house smell AMAZING!  I let it cook during the day and it was an amazing thing to come home to.

The “noodles” are quick.  The spiral slicer is a fairly inexpensive little gadget that you can pick up or order online for less than 20 bucks.  It works kind of like a pencil sharpener: you just twist the zucchinis into the hole and they come out in beautiful little spirals.  I ate mine at room temp completely raw, but I’ve heard of folks taking these and baking them with some salt and they prefer that.  Plop a few of those meatballs on top and go to town.  SOOOO GOOOD!!!

 

Zucchini Lasagna

From yesterday’s post, you can see I spent some time in the garden with my sister-in-law and I had two MASSIVE zucchinis that I needed to use that I couldn’t fit into my spiral slicer. Thus, this recipe was born.

Serves 9

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Ingredients:

2 lbs grassfed ground beef
1/2 lb bacon, diced (The non-sugar variety if you can find it: Peterson’s, if you can find it)
1 large onion, diced
3 Tbsp fress rosemary, chopped
2 Tbsp fresh Basil, chopped
1 Tbsp DRIED oregano (I prefer this mellower variety)
1 28 oz can crushed tomatoes
1 can tomato paste
1 small container parmesan cheese.
Salt and pepper
2 overgrown zucchinis or approximately 5 large ones from the store

Process:

Preheat your oven to 375

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Brown your ground beef in the bottom of a cast iron pot.  Once it is nice and crumbly, add your bacon and onion.  Let this cook through until your bacon is fairly well cooked. It’s not going to be crispy in this recipe, so just be mindful of that.  Once the meat is cooked through, add tomato paste and mix it around to let it mingle together.  Then add your crushed tomatoes and herbs.  Give it a good stir and then leave it simmering, with the pot-cover askew to allow ventilation for about 30-45 minutes. I went and took a bath while I was waiting.  It was lovely.

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Slice your zucchinis into very thin slices. Spray a large casserole dish with coconut oil and place your zucchini slices very closely together, slightly overlapping.

Then layer the sauces and zucchini slices.  I had enough sauce and zucchini for 3 layers of zucchini and sauce, alternating.  I topped the whole thing with a thin layer of pungent parmesan cheese (you don’t need much of that stuff to get the flavor)

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Bake the dish at 375 for about 20-30 minutes until the cheese on top is nice an bubbly.  This makes a ton of lasagna so I froze a ton of portions to have throughout the next couple of weeks.  The sauce is so good you can eat it like soup.  I’m extremely pleased with the outcome of this dish.

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