Ninnescah Pasture

Ninnescah Pasture

Wednesday, September 4, 2013

Hide and Seek

Our zucchini plants must have taken lessons from movie serial killers. You know those movies when the serial killer is lurking underneath the blanket in the backseat? As the music swells, the bad guy comes out of nowhere and attacks the poor, unsuspecting victim.

Thankfully, our garden zucchini don't have much in common with bad guys except for that propensity for hiding in plain sight. One day, you don't see a zucchini big enough to harvest. Seemingly overnight, it becomes this behemoth that's only suitable for grating and adding to zucchini bread.

We like zucchini bread, but now I have a main dish alternative for those green giants of the garden. Zucchini Pizza Casserole has another kind of "stealth" mode. It's a great way to "hide" vegetables in a family main dish. From the top, there's not a bit of zucchini to be cleverly discovered by a picky kid's roving fork. The zucchini is in the "crust," and it's covered up with pizza-flavored hamburger and cheese.

It was good the first time and good as leftovers, too, since there's no way Randy and I were going to consume the whole casserole in one sitting.  Don't you love leftovers? I do.
Zucchini Pizza Casserole
From Taste of Home
Serves 6-8
Prep time: 20 minutes    Bake time: 40 minutes

4 cups shredded, unpeeled zucchini
1/2 tsp. salt
2 eggs
1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese
2 cups shredded part-skim mozzarella cheese, divided
1 cup shredded Cheddar cheese, divided
1 lb. ground beef
1/2 cup chopped onion
1 can (15 oz.) Italian tomato sauce or canned spaghetti sauce
1 medium green pepper, chopped

Place shredded zucchini in strainer; sprinkle with salt. Let stand for 10 minutes. Squeeze out moisture. (Don't skip this step. It's amazing how much moisture is extracted in just 10 minutes! I used a clean paper towel to squeeze out even more liquid.)

Combine zucchini with eggs, Parmesan and half the mozzarella and Cheddar cheeses. Press into greased 13- by 9-inch baking dish. Bake, uncovered, for 20 minutes.
While the zucchini-egg mixture is baking, cook beef and onion over medium heat until meat is no longer pink; drain well. Add tomato or spaghetti sauce; spoon over baked zucchini layer.

Sprinkle with remaining cheeses. Sprinkle with green (or other color) pepper. Bake 20 minutes longer or until heated through.

Notes:
  • I didn't have green pepper. I had yellow. So, to add some green color, I chopped up a little green onion and sprinkled it on top with the yellow pepper.
  • If you don't like having a little crunch to the green/yellow peppers, you could add them to the skillet when browning the beef. Prepared as the recipe suggests, the peppers are a little bit "al dente." We liked that, but I know there are those who want their veggies softened.
  • I didn't have the Italian tomato sauce so I used prepared spaghetti sauce. It worked well, and it's something I always have in the pantry, as opposed to Italian tomato sauce.
  • Below is a photo of how the zucchini-egg layer looked before topping with the beef mixture. 

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Need other ways to use those large zucchinis that need to be grated to be tamed? Try:

or


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A little bit of housekeeping: 

Winner of the $50 gift card in the Kansas Beef Council giveway on Kim's County Line was Ginger Sanders. Randy pulled her name out of a bowl filled with those who named their favorite way to use beef in family meals. Congratulations to Ginger, and thank you to everyone who participated. Ginger and her husband, George, voted for meat loaf, by the way.

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I'm linked today to Wake Up Wednesday. It's hosted by Wichita blogger Ashley and several of her food blogging buddies. Check out the yummy recipes!

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