Sunday, March 6, 2011

Lasagna Roll-ups

Today I decided to stick with the Mediterranean theme of the weekend and go with something Italian.  My family loves lasagna, and this recipe literally puts a twist on the classic recipe.  This is a recipe I use a lot because it is so versatile.  This version uses marinara sauce and ground beef, but you could easily substitute Alfredo sauce and sauteed vegetables. 
12 lasagna noodles
1 1/4 lbs ground beef or turkey
2 cloves garlic, minced
2 teaspoons dried basil
1 teaspoon dried oregano
15 ounces ricotta cheese
2 cups shredded mozzarella cheese
1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese
1 egg, beaten
2 tablespoons dried parsley
1 jar (26 ounces) marinara sauce (your favorite flavor)

Preheat oven to 375 degrees F.  In large pot, cook noodles according to package directions.  Drain well, and spread out on parchment or wax paper to cool.  Meanwhile, brown meat in skillet.  Drain grease and add garlic to pan and cook about 2 minutes.  Remove from heat and stir in basil and oregano.

Mix together ricotta, egg, parsley, Parmesan, and all but 1/4 cup mozzarella. 

Divide mixture evenly and spread over lasagna noodles.  Spread meat mixture evenly over cheese.  Carefully roll up each noodle. 

Place 1/2 cup of marinara sauce in bottom of baking dish.  Place rolled up noodles in pan (you may need to use more than one pan) and spoon remaining marinara sauce over the top of the noodles.  Sprinkle with remaining mozzarella.  Bake, covered, for 20 minutes.  Uncover and bake for 10 minutes more, or until cheeses are bubbly.

I like to serve this with broccoli sauteed in olive oil with a little garlic and Parmesan cheese, but a garden salad would be nice as well.  Garlic bread completes the meal.

Saturday, March 5, 2011

Spinach and Potato Salad with Chicken

This salad gets its original inspiration from the French Nicoise salad.  It is a salad of lettuce, tomato, potato, green beans, sardines, and tuna, served with a vinagrette dressing.  My family is not big on anchovies or tuna (I like tuna, but I'm the only one).  I decided to use chicken in the place of the seafood, and boost the nutritional value of the salad by subbing spinach for the lettuce.  The dressing also doubles as the marinade, cutting out a step from the original.  So here is my version of the salad....

1/2 cup red wine vinegar
1 cup olive oil
2 tablespoons Dijon mustard
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon pepper
2 tablespoons fresh parsley, chopped
1 1/2 pounds chicken tenderloins
1 10 ounce package fresh baby spinach, washed
8 red potatoes, quartered
8 ounces baby carrots
1 cup fresh green beans
1 pint grape or cherry tomatoes
1/2 cup shredded mozzarella cheese

In small bowl, combine vinegar, oil, mustard, salt, pepper, and parsley.  Stir until well blended.  Place chicken in plastic bag or glass bowl.  Add half of vinagrette mixture to chicken and toss to coat.  Cover or seal chicken and marinade in refrigerator at least two hours (overnight would be great).  Cover reserved vinagrette and store in refrigerator until ready to serve.

Place potatoes in saucepan and add enough water to cover the potatoes by 2 inches.  Bring to a boil and simmer, uncovered, for 7-8 minutes.  Add carrots and green beans and cook another 3 minutes or until potatoes are fork tender.  Immediately remove vegetables from boiling water and place in a bowl of ice water to stop cooking.

While vegetable are cooling, heat 1 tablespoon olive oil in a large skillet over medium heat.  Remove chicken from marinade and cook in skillet over medium heat until browned on both sides (about 10 minutes).  Remove from skillet, let cool slightly, and cut into large chunks.

Drain potatoes, green beans, and carrots.  Soak up excess moisture with paper towels.  Divide spinach evenly amongst 4 plates.  Divide green beans, potatoes, and carrots evenly amongst the four plates.  Top each salad with 1/4 of the tomatoes, 1/4 of the cheese, and 1/4 of the chicken.  Drizzle with reserved vinagrette dressing (DO NOT USE LEFTOVER MARINADE).

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