Where has skillet lasagna been all my life?
Oh. It’s been right there, all along? If only I’d opened my eyes? Well, I guess I have to admit that sounds about right. I spend my time being blissfully oblivious a little more often than I should.
But thankfully, I’m oblivious-no-more when it comes to skillet lasagna. Only blissful.
It’s kind of a bummer that most comfort food is on the fattening side. Macaroni and cheese, vanilla ice cream with hot fudge sauce, yellow cake with chocolate fudge frosting, and, yeah. Baked ziti. If it’s not loaded with sugar, it’s loaded with cheese. And don’t get me started on the carbs.
Ah well. Sometimes cheese-loaded carb-city is in order. An added bonus cheese-wise is that if something’s got a lot of it, there’s not really room for meat – thus, the meat-eaters in your life probably hardly notice it’s not there. As in this baked ziti, for instance.
Most baked ziti recipes call for ground beef or crumbled sausage, but you know what? I’m going to argue that it’s just not needed. Superfluous, even. When you start with a great Italian tomato sauce, layer it with al dente pasta and four different cheeses – melty provolone and mozzarella along with creamy gorgonzola and salty parmesan – then add sour cream and mushrooms, well … that’s just perfection right there.
Shepherd’s Pie. At first glance, it seems like a humble, even somewhat ho-hum dish. Ground beef (or lamb, traditionally) mixed with a few veggies and topped with mashed potatoes. Comforting, sure. But amazing? Probably not. Except, actually, yes. It’s really, really delicious.
This version brings together ground beef with a little gravy, some onions, carrots, peas, and corn for the carnivores. Vegetarians get their own delectable version with diced crimini mushrooms and lentils in place of the ground beef. Both are topped with cheesy mashed potatoes then sprinkled with more cheese and breadcrumbs, then baked so the potatoes form a nice golden crust.
This simple vegetarian stuffing recipe is made special with a handful of sourdough bread thrown into the mix, caramelized onions, and delicately-delicious chanterelle mushrooms.
I’m going to tell you a little vegetarian secret. Chicken broth is the absolute bane of the vegetarian’s existence. Chicken broth and anchovies. Man, it’s like butternut squash soup and pasta puttanesca and traditional Thanksgiving stuffing are their Trojan horse. The dishes look vegetarian, but nuh uh – gotcha!