Veggie Marinara Bake

This is what happens when you let a girl like me loose in a grocery store.  I just go wild.

I have been a very good girl lately with my food shopping excursions- always having a plan for the week including a list and a budget.  This past week, I was feeling rather uninspired and only had one dinner pre-planned.  When I got to the market and saw all of the bright, fresh produce… I finally got the inspiration I needed.  I decided that I wanted to take the idea of baked ziti (not sure why but I had a bad craving for it) and put it together using veggies instead of pasta.

I went through the different areas of the produce section picking out what looked to be the best local veggies I could find.  I went home and threw it together and this is what I came up with:

Veggie Marinara Bake

Makes 4 Large Servings

Ingredients:

1 Tablespoon Extra Virgin Olive Oil

1 Tablespoon chopped Garlic 

1/2 Vidalia Onion, diced

2 small Zucchinis, sliced into thin circles

1 large Yellow Squash (or 2 small), sliced into thin half-moons or circles

1 Baby Eggplant, cut into small chunks

3/4 cup Shredded Carrots

1/2 Red Bell Pepper, diced

1 small can Sliced Black Olives

Italian Seasoning, Salt, Pepper, Crushed Red Pepper

1 28oz can Crushed Tomatoes

1 package Hot Turkey or Chicken Sausage (I used Wegman’s brand, it came with 4 patties)

1/4 cup Fat Free Ricotta Cheese

1/4 cup Shaved Parmesan (divided, optional)

1/4 cup Grated Parmesan 

1/8 cup Italian Seasoned Bread Crumbs

Directions:

1.  Wash and cut all of the veggies.  Heat the oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat.  Add onions and garlic.  Saute for a few minutes.  Add the rest of the veggies and saute, stirring occasionally to re-distribute.  Stir in Italian Seasoning blend of your choice or just some Salt, Pepper, and Crushed Red Pepper.  Once the squash and eggplant are soft, add the can of crushed tomatoes (reserve some if you’d like to dip).  Simmer over medium-low heat.

2.  In a separate pan, cook the sausage over medium heat and chop.  Stir and chop and cook until the sausage is cooked through and browned.  Put aside.

3.  Preheat the oven to 350.  Prepare a baking dish with cooking spray.  Add a layer of the veggie/tomato mixture to the baking dish.  Place half of the chopped sausage ontop.  Using a spoon, dollop little sections of the ricotta cheese onto the top.  Add the rest of the veggies, then the sausage, then more dollops of ricotta.  Top with half of the shaved parmesan if using.  Sprinkle the bread crumbs evenly ontop, following with the grated parmesan.  

4.  Pop in the oven and bake for about 10-15 minutes or until the top is browning just a bit.  

*Note: Serve carefully- since there is no cheese or egg throughout the dish, it will not hold shape like a baked ziti or lasagna will.  Just scoop and serve… it’s delicious, trust me.

Before: So pretty :)

Before: So pretty 🙂

The after:  Not so pretty... but it's going to be pretty tasty!

The after: Not so pretty… but it’s going to be pretty tasty!

After it's done baking

After it’s done baking

P1020133

Served with a side of garlic bread... nom nom

Served with a side of garlic bread… nom nom

Even good for lunch while I'm working at home!

Even good for lunch while I’m working at home!

At first I was disappointed that my faux-baked ziti did not turn out very pretty.  But then I started thinking about it, and who really cares what it looks like?  This was just a dinner for Dave and I to sit in front of the TV and watch the Eagles game.  I’d much rather have a healthier meal than have it look pretty.  Because this recipe is chock full of fresh veggies, we were able to only divide it by FOUR and still have the total calorie count under 300 (depending on whatever type of sausage/meat you choose).  Amazing.  Don’t you just love pigging out on food when you  know it won’t do any damage!?

What’s great about this recipe is that it’s something different from your typical same-old.  Try it with whatever veggies you have or whatever veggies you prefer.  You can also go crazy and take out the sausage to make it vegetarian! Oh, and the leftovers?  I’m eating them right now for lunch… they are even better!!

 

Posted Last year:  Lunchtime Tuesday

Other recipes you may enjoy:

Spinach-Artichoke Lasagna

Spinach-Artichoke Lasagna

"New" Chicken Parmesan

“New” Chicken Parmesan

Mom's Baked Tomatoes

Mom’s Baked Tomatoes

Mexican-Style Couscous Salad

OMG!  I’m sitting here drooling while I’m thinking about this lunch I made! I cannot wait to share this recipe with you, it will for sure be a lunch staple in our house from now on.

The best part about this recipe is that it’s so easily modifiable for your own tastes and pantry supplies.  I got the idea for this lunch from my dietitian, John.  His original recipe calls for Quinoa (which would be more protein, so use it if you have it!) but I had already made Couscous for a different recipe so I simply substituted this time around.

Mexican-Style Couscous Salad

Recipe for 1 Serving

Ingredients:

1/3 cup Couscous (or quinoa), cooked

1/3 cup Black Beans, rinsed

1/2 cup Chopped Broccoli, frozen

1/2 cup Mixed Vegetables, frozen (I used the “baby” vegetable mix with corn, peas, carrots, and green beans)

handful of Chopped Tomatoes

1/8 cup Shredded Cheese

2oz Cooked Chicken Breast, cubed (optional)

1/4 cup Salsa*

Directions:

Microwave the frozen veggies and then put everything in a tupperware for the following day.  Reheat if you want, it will also taste delicious room-temp.

Recipe adapted from John the Dietitian

*I HAVE to share this recipe for homemade salsa with you.  It was ridiculous how simple it was to make, how much it makes, and how amazing it tastes.  Shoutout to Dave, he actually made this himself!

This recipe came up because both Dave and I wanted to try something new for our lunch this week.  We pretty much bring all of our meals with us to work, to stay healthy and save money.  I love this recipe because I could use whatever I wanted and had on hand.  The chicken and couscous had already been made for a dinner, so I was able to use that without cooking anything extra.

I love this recipe for lunch, give it a try!

photo (3)

Healthy Dinner Idea: Veggie Quinoa & Poached Eggs

Every time I look at these photos I want to make this for dinner again.

A couple weeks ago, after cooking up some Quinoa for the first time… I used the leftover plain Quinoa in a few different ways.  My favorite dish I made out of the leftovers was for sure this Veggie Quinoa with a Poached Egg.  Since I’ve discovered Poached Eggs this winter, I’ve been obsessed!  They’re so easy and yummy and I just love them so much.  I’ve also used them in this Breakfast Baked Potatoes Recipe.

Although I normally would try to have only 1/2 of a cup of Quinoa (it’s really good for you but high in calories), I made this meal after a big workout and was really hungry.  Since quinoa has so much protein, I decided to bump it up to a full cup and add some Veggies to make it seem like even more food.  This meal actually has a total of 38 grams of protein!

Veggie Quinoa w/ Poached Eggs

Recipe by:  It’s Good to be the Cook

Ingredients:

1 Cup Quinoa, cooked

1 Cup Broccoli, cooked

1/2 Cup Cherry Tomatoes, halved (I used the orange ones!)

1/2 Cup Onions, sauteed

2 Eggs

1 Tablespoon Reduced Fat Parmesan

1 Tablespoon Lemon Juice

a few Leaves of Fresh Basil (I had some around so I threw it in!)

Seasonings:  Sea Salt, Pepper, Garlic Powder

Directions:

1.  Take the cooked Quinoa, Broccoli, Onions, and Cherry Tomatoes and mix them together with 1 Tablespoon of Lemon Juice and the Basil & Seasonings to taste.  Top with Parmesan Cheese.

2.  Poach 2 Eggs.  (Directions from me here or a different way here).  Remove with a slotted spoon and place ontop of the Veggie Quinoa mix.

MMM I can’t get enough of poached eggs!

Stelly is always my helper in the kitchen!

Grilled Chicken, Veggies, & Roasted Potatoes w/ Dill

So, it’s almost the 4th of July!

Is everyone’s grill-mode on full swing?

Since we’ve been hardly home this summer, and super busy when we are… I haven’t been grilling enough.  It’s depressing.

I was really happy this week when Dave offered to grill up some veggies & chicken for us while I roasted potatoes in my new Dutch Oven.  (Okay, he came into the house and I told him he was grilling… but he did it without complaining!)

Grilled Chicken & Veggies

Ingredients:
2 Chicken Breasts (ours were 8oz each)
1/2 Cup Lawry’s Herb & Garlic Marinade
2 Zucchinis, halved
1 Onion, sliced into thick rings
Olive Oil sprayer
Salt, Pepper, Paprika
Directions: 
  1. Marinade the raw chicken breasts for a half hour covered in the refrigerator , turning halfway through.
  2. Cut your veggies, spray with just a touch of olive oil and season.
  3. Turn on your grill to medium-high.  Both veggies and chicken take a while so they can go on at the same time.
  4. Flip the chicken once it looks like it’s halfway done, then carefully flip the veggies.  Grill until they’re both cooked (chicken should be 165 degrees inside).  I like the veggies a little bit burnt!

    It’s simple and you can top off the chicken with any flavor sauces when it’s done grilling with this!

    This is the sauce we picked to top our veggies and chicken with tonight.

I also was able to try out a new recipe in my brand spankin’ new Dutch Oven that Dave bought me for my b-day!

Roasted Fingerling Potatoes w/ Garlic & Fresh Dill

Recipe by:  It’s Good to be the Cook
Ingredients:
1lb Fingerling Potatoes, rinsed
2 Tablespoons Unsalted Butter
8 Cloves Roasted Garlic (or minced garlic if you don’t have roasted)
1 teaspoon Minced Garlic
2 Tablespoons Fresh Dill, chopped
Sea Salt & Black Pepper
Directions:
1.  Heat the dutch oven on the stove over medium-high heat.  Melt the Butter.  Add the potatoes, salt and pepper.  Cover and cook for 30 minutes.
2.  Open lid and stir the potatoes every 7-10 minutes or so.  You can check the done-ness of the bigger ones by sticking a fork in it.  It’s done when it goes in and out easily.  
3.  Add roasted and minced garlic.  Stir.  Cook for 5 more minutes or until the potatoes are done (depends on the size!)
4.  Remove from dutch oven and strain away any excess butter.  Toss with dill, and serve with extra salt/pepper if desired.

Potatoes were so good!

Add some hot sauce and you’ve got yourself some dee-licious potatoes!  YUMMY!  The roasted garlic becomes almost sweet, and is a great addition to this dish.  We buy a little container of it at our local italian marketplace.  It’s cheap and you can use it on so much (smashed on bread… mmmm).

The finished product. I was so full after!

Tilapia w/ Black Beans & Zucchini

My 2nd gym (Planet Fitness) is right next to a supermarket.  How convenient.

The other day after I worked out, I hurried over to purchase a few healthy snacks, some turkey for lunches, and dinner- as I was on my own for the night.  Passing the seafood area, I noticed how cheap Tilapia was!  I really have never made any type of fish except salmon, so I was super excited to try Tilapia out.

With a whole 1/2 lb of Tilapia only costing me 6 points, I was able to have some fun with it!

Tilapia w/ Black Beans & Zucchini

Recipe by:  It’s Good to be the Cook
Ingredients:
1/2 lb Tilapia (usually 2 pieces), rinsed and patted dry
Olive Oil
1/2 teaspoon Garlic, Minced, divided
Fresh Ground Black Pepper, Sea Salt, Red Pepper Flakes
1 Tablespoon Lime Juice
1/2 can Black Beans
1 Zucchini
1/2 Onion
8 Green Beans
1 Tomato
2 Green Onions
Directions:
1.  Cut up all of the veggies.  In a large saucepan, heat just a little bit of olive oil (teaspoon?).  Add 1/4 teaspoon Garlic.  Saute for 30 seconds before adding the onion, zucchini, green beans, and green onions.  Stir around until the veggies become softer- I like to get it to the point where the zucchinis are browning just a little bit.
2.  Meanwhile, heat another teaspoon of Olive Oil in a separate pan over medium heat.  Season both sides of the Tilapia with Sea Salt, Pepper, and the other 1/4 teaspoon of Garlic (and a few shakes of Red Pepper Flakes if you’d like!).  Place the Tilapia gently in the pan over the oil.  Add the lime juice.  It only takes  about 4-5 minutes on each side.  Try to only flip it once to avoid it falling apart.
3.  When the veggies and fish are almost done, add the black beans and tomatoes into the veggie saucepan.  Stir to combine.  Serve together!

Here are my veggies sauteeing, before the beans and tom’s go in!

Delish Tilapia! I’d love to try this again.

This was really simple and completely thrown together last minute.  It worked out really well.  The simplicity was really nice, because you could really taste the flavors of the veggies and fish.  This would be really yummy too, if you’d add just a few shakes of Parmesan cheese ontop.

It was a nice change from my normal asian or cajun fish seasonings and marinades.