Last week, Meatless Monday was not meatless, a total fail, and I got called out. For whatever reason, chicken stir fry was on my mind, and y’all no matter how many times I make a stir fry I always ask myself: “WHY DID I DO THAT??” My stir fry is TERRIBLE. I’ve tried everything from awesome sesame oil, to the stir fry packets that no one can mess up. Well, I am here to tell you, those packets are not fool proof. The best part of my stir fry is the frozen egg rolls I defrost and heat up to go with it.
Other than the pesto zoodles, hubs has never outright said he didn’t like something I have cooked for dinner. He will argue with Lil’ Bit at the dinner table (over something that I even think is terrible) that dinner is delicious, and she should be grateful for a mom who makes dinner every night (except Friday y’all – I do not cook on Friday’s). Then my knight in shining armor takes the leftovers of the truly terrible dinner for lunch the next day. I love that man, and so does my ego.
Back to the stir fry, Lil’ Bit, Bug, and I went to our local farmers market style grocery store to load up on fresh fruits, veggies, and deli turkey for the week, and the stir-fry inspiration struck. Soon I was filling the cart with veggies for this awesome dinner I had planned, AND because I was determined for it to be awesome I bought the stir-fry seasoning packet – no, y’all not the powdered one, the pre mixed one. This time it was going to be good, and in the midst of my excitement (and the distraction of Bug’s ear-splitting shrieks) I forgot the egg rolls.
I painstakingly threw together the stir-fry, and added my secret ingredient (other wise known as the pre-mixed packet) and dished it up. After the first bite, hubs was up looking for the “good” soy sauce – for whatever reason my GMO free, organic soy sauce does not cut it in his eyes. He hordes the little take out pouches, and hides them where I can’t find them, and throw them out (jokes on him! I found the stash – it’s low sodium all the way baby), he finally gave up his search, and went with the healthy stuff – we all choked down whatever we could of the stir-fry. The leftovers are slowly expiring in the fridge, and have not moved from the spot where they were placed after last Monday’s dinner – poor Hubs came home from work starving last Tuesday.
So, in an attempt to redeem myself, this week I made a favorite – adapted from my Mom’s Italian Meal in a Dish recipe. My version is a form of lasagna made with no boil noodles, cottage cheese, marinara, and fresh spinach leaves. The crowning jewel of this dish is slices of mozzarella, and fresh basil. There are two rules for Meatless Monday 1) it must be good and 2) it must be easy, and this one fits the bill. The bake time is a while, but seriously y’all, this dinner takes no more than 20 minutes to put together. It can also be made the night before and hang out in the fridge until you are ready to bake.
As I have previously stated, I don’t follow recipes – I use them as a guide but I don’t get specific on amounts.
Here’s what you need:
- Fresh Baby Spinach Leaves
- Garlic Powder (I used 1 tsp but you may adjust to your taste)
- 2 cups of Cottage Cheese ( you can use ricotta cheese – but I prefer the texture [and price] of cottage cheese in this dish)
- Marinara Sauce
- Fresh Whole Milk Mozzarella Cheese – You can use a different type of cheese if you prefer, this is for the topping.
- No-Boil Noodles (you can use the other kind but these are easier) – I recommend 4 noodles per layer, I used a total of 12 noodles
- 1 Egg
- Favorite Italian Spices (think oregano, basil, garlic, etc..)
- A Handful of Fresh Basil Leaves (cut into small strips)
Sprinkle a little olive oil in the bottom of a glass baking dish – I use a 13×9, and there is rarely more than one square left over. Spoon a little marinara over the olive oil, and lay 4 noodles across the sauce. In a bowl, beat the egg and add 2 cups cottage cheese your spices – I did 1 tsp garlic powder and 1/2 tsp Italian herb mix. Top the noodles with your cottage cheese mixture and spread out, place a layer of fresh spinach leaves on top of the cottage cheese mixture then add a light layer of marinara. Add another layer of noodles and repeat the other steps.
You can do as many layers as you would like, but I find that 2 layers is sufficient. Top the second layer with noodles and a good amount of marinara, then fresh mozzarella, and finally the shreaded basil. Cover with foil and pop into a 375 degree oven for 45 minutes – or until you can easily poke through with a fork or knife. Remove the cover and allow to bake for an additional 15-20 minutes so the cheese can get good an melty. Remove from the oven, and allow to sit for an additional 20 minutes.
** Due to some of my ingredients, this version it is a little more “soupy” than a typical firm lasagna, we prefer this to the drier lasagna, AND for a bonus if it cooks too long it won’t dry out. Regardless, it is good, but using a low moisture- part skim mozzarella and thick pasta sauce will produce a firmer lasagna.
I have thrown this together at the last minute and it is awesome, you can also let it sit overnight or for a few hours in the fridge and it is even more awesome! We pair with a salad drizzled with our favorite Tuscan Herb olive oil and Balsamic vinegar.
Voila! dinner is served!