Vegetarian Lasagna

If you like lasagna but think meat lasagna is just too heavy for you this is the recipe for you. Can be prepared ahead of time. Adapted from Family Vegetarian Cooking by Good Housekeeping. See notes at bottom.

Serves: 6-8, depending on serving size
Required Equipment:
Large skillet
13″ x 9″ glass baking dish (or equivalent)
Large bowl and spoon
Large pot
Knife and cutting board (for prep work)
Ingredients:
9 lasagna noodles
8 oz portobello mushrooms, thinly sliced
1 medium onion, thinly sliced
2 medium zucchini, thinly sliced
1 bunch spinach, stems removed and roughly chopped
2 plum tomatoes, finely chopped
2 garlic cloves, minced
2 tbs basil, fresh chopped or dried
2 tbs parsley, fresh chopped or dried
15 oz ricotta
8 oz mozzarella, shredded
1/4 cup Parmesan, shredded
1/4 cup milk (any kind)
1 15 oz can crushed tomatoes (or around 2 cups tomato sauce)
1 tsp salt
1 tsp black pepper
A dash of nutmeg
~1 tbs of olive oil (for sauteing)

1. Preheat oven to 425 F.
2. Cook noodles, rinse with cold water, and set to dry flat (so no wrinkles or folds form).
3. Heat oil in skillet over medium heat and add mushrooms and onions. Saute until soft, around 5 minutes.
4. Add zucchini, attempting to separate slices as you cook, and saute until soft, and still colorful, about 4 minutes.
5. Add spinach and tomatoes and cook until spinach wilts and most of the liquid has evaporated, around 2-3 minutes. If vegetables are not soft and liquid is gone continue to saute until soft.
6. Add garlic, parsley, basil, 1/2 tsp salt and pepper, and cook until garlic is fragrant, around 30 seconds. Remove from heat.
7. While vegetable mixture is cooling mix the ricotta, mozzarella, Parmesan, milk, nutmeg, and 12 tsp salt and pepper in a bowl.
8. Add half of vegetable mixture to glass baking dish, spreading out evenly.
9. Add a layer of noodles and half of the cheese mixture, spreading out evenly. Top with half of your crushed tomatoes (or tomato sauce).
10. Add another layer of noodles and top with rest of vegetable mixture, spreading out evenly.
11. Add the last layer of noodles and finish with remaining cheese mixture, spreading the remaining crushed tomatoes (or tomato sauce) on top.
12. If immediately cooking bake on middle shelf for 25-30 minutes. If being prepared after refrigeration cook for 35-40 minutes.
13. Cool for 10 minutes to minimize burns and maintain the best structure when served.


I don’t particularly like store-bought tomato sauce. I think it’s too sweet and I pretty much hate sweet things mixed in with my savory things. As a result I’ve developed the habit of using crushed tomatoes whenever a recipe calls for tomato sauce (unless I have some home made sauce lying around). If this isn’t a problem for you for whatever reason I would advocate using tomato sauce instead of crushed tomatoes.

Yellow Squash, Zucchini and Onions

So simple a side-dish I’m almost afraid to call it a recipe. My go-to side whenever I feel like dinner needs a few more vegetables. See notes at bottom.

Serves: Four (as a side)
Required Equipment:
Large skillet
Cutting board and knife (for prep work)
A spatula or large, heat-resistant spoon
Ingredients:
2 medium yellow squash, chopped (such as crookneck squash)
1 medium-large zucchini, chopped
1 small or half a large onion, chopped
2 garlic cloves, minced
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp pepper
1 tbs olive oil

1. Heat oil in skillet over medium heat.
2. When oil is hot add garlic and onions. Saute until garlic begins to turn golden.
3. Add squash and zucchini. Saute until soft, around 10 minutes.
4. Add salt and pepper. Serve.


I have come to realize that not everyone loves garlic as much as me. If you’re not all that fond of garlic you might want to cut down the garlic cloves to one. If you love garlic as much as mean you might want to up it to three.

Spinach, Feta, and Basil Stuffed Chicken

An easy, simple recipe I created when I felt there wasn’t enough feta in my life. I usually serve this with a multi-grain bread and sauteed yellow squash and zucchini. See notes at bottom.

Serves: Four
Required Equipment:
A roughly 9×12″ glass baking dish
A meat mallet
A cutting board and knife (for prep work)
Ingredients:
~1.5 lb chicken breasts
Handful spinach, stems removed (preferably baby spinach)
1-2 tbs fresh basil (can substitute dry if necessary)
1.5 cups (~4 oz) feta, crumbled
2 14.5 oz cans stewed tomatoes (I prefer the Italian style)
2 tbs Italian seasoning
A pinch of salt and pepper
Wooden or bamboo toothpicks (optional)

1. Preheat oven to 425 F.
2. Trim fat off chicken, butterfly, and pound flat to around 1/2 in thickness.
3. Layer one half of each flattened breast with feta, basil, and spinach, leaving the other half bare.
4. Fold bare half of breast over the stuffing and pin in place with toothpicks.
5. Sprinkle top with salt, pepper, and Italian seasoning.
6. Place in glass baking dish and cover with the stewed tomatoes.
7. Bake (uncovered) for 25-30 minutes. Remove toothpicks and serve.


If you’re having difficult folding the flattened breasts over the stuffing you can simply cut the different sides in half and make it as if it were a sandwich, where the chicken is the bread.
If you don’t have or don’t like stewed tomatoes for whatever reason an earlier version of this recipe didn’t use them at all. However, they help keep the chicken moist, so if you choose to leave out the tomatoes you should cover the chicken while cooking it.

Gyudon

Gyudon is a beef and rice bowl. It is a quick and easy dish to make, especially if you have the rice made ahead of time. Adapted from Just One Cookbook’s Gyudon recipes, found here and here.

Serves: Four
Required Equipment:
Large skillet with lid
Cutting board and knife (for prep work)
A spatula or large, heat-resistant spoon
Ingredients:
2 cups cooked rice (preferably a short grain)
1 small-medium onion, thinly sliced
8 oz Portobello mushrooms, sliced
3-4 green onions, thinly sliced
1-2 tsp minced ginger
1 cup dashi or other broth (if using HonDashi use 2/5 tsp)
2 tbsp sake
3-4 tbs mirin
4 tbsp soy sauce
~1-1.5 lbs thinly sliced beef (at my store they label it “beef for stir fry”)
3-4 eggs, well beaten

1. Mix dashi, sake, mirin, and soy sauce in skillet. Cover skillet and bring mixture to boiling over medium to medium-high heat.
2. Add onions, mushrooms and ginger, spreading out to cook evenly. Cook covered until onions are tender, a couple of minutes.
3. Add beef. Cook uncovered, stirring occasionally, until beef is no longer pink.
4. Stir in eggs. Lower heat to medium-low and cover. Cook until eggs cooked through and custard-like in consistency, about 1-2 minutes.
5. Serve over rice, topping with green onions.

Portobello Walnut Burrito

More of a wrap than a burrito, this is a fast vegetarian recipe. Inspired by a dish of the same name from a local restaurant (though the recipe itself is my own).

Serves: Four
Required Equipment:
Large skillet
Cutting board and knife (for prep work)
A spatula or large, heat-resistant spoon
Ingredients:
1 8 oz package portobello mushrooms, finely chopped
1 medium-large onion, finely chopped
1 15 oz can black beans, rinsed and drained
1/2-3/4 cups red wine
~2 tbs olive oil
1 tbs Italian seasoning
1 tsp thyme
1/2 tsp salt
1 cup walnut pieces
4 or more large tortillas
2 cups cooked rice (preferably a long grain)
~1 cup crema or sour cream
Salsa (for serving)

1. Heat olive oil in skillet over medium to medium-high heat.
2. Add mushrooms, onion, and thyme. Saute until soft and thyme fragrant, ~5 minutes.
3. Add red wine, Italian seasoning and salt. Continue cooking alcohol has boiled off and most of the liquid is gone, roughly 5-10 minutes.
4. Add walnuts and black beans. Cook until heated through.
5. Wrap in tortillas with rice and crema or sour cream. Serve with salsa.

Herb-Roasted Chicken

A one-pan meal. Goes well with multi-grain bread. Adapted from Charlyne Mattox’s Herb Roasted Chicken recipe.

Serves: Four to five
Required Equipment:
A rimmed baking sheet
A knife and cutting board (for prep work)
A large bowl
Ingredients
1-2.5 lbs chicken breast or thighs
4-4.5 cups diced potatoes, ~1 in3 (I suggest Yukon gold potatoes)
1 large yellow onion, chopped
1 cup frozen peas (if fresh cook only 1 minute in last step)
2 tbs or more lemon juice
3 tbs olive oil
1 1/2 tsp
1 tsp black pepper
1 tsp caraway seeds
1 tsp dry mustard
2 tsp rosemary
1/2 tsp thyme
2 tbs dill

1. Preheat oven to 450 F.
2. Toss potatoes and onions with olive oil, 1 tsp salt, 1/2 tsp pepper, and 1 tsp rosemary in a rimmed baking sheet.
3. Season chicken with caraway seeds, mustard, rosemary, thyme, and 1/2 tsp salt and pepper.
4. Nestle chicken on baking sheet with potatoes and onions.
5. When oven is preheated place baking sheet on middle rack and cook 25-30 minutes.
6. Add peas to baking sheet. Top everything, especially chicken, with dill and lemon juice.
7. Cook 3-5 minutes or until peas are warm. Serve.

Monjayaki Variations

These are suggested toppings and variations of the basic monjayaki recipe that I have tested since I first learned how to make monja, and will be updated as new alternatives are tried. These are only suggested additions, for the base recipe click HERE.

If you just want a list of tasty toppings without suggested combinations see the bottom of the page or click HERE.

The Italian
1/2 tbsp Italian seasoning
Salami, chopped
Pepperoni, chopped
Red onions, chopped
Parmesan cheese on top

Curry Monja (The Current Favorite)
Thinly sliced seasoned beef
Sliced green onions
Chopped mochi
1 bouillon cube-sized piece of concentrated curry spices or 1 tbs curry powder
Ramen crackers on top

Three Cheese Mochi Bacon Monja
Cooked, chopped bacon
Chopped mochi
Parmesan cheese on top
Mozzarella cheese on top
Cheddar cheese on top

The Old Standby
Thinly sliced seasoned beef
Sliced green onions
Chopped mochi
Shredded freeze-dried squid
Mozzarella cheese on top
Ramen crackers on top


List of suggested additions
Special Additions
Thinly sliced beef seasoned with salt, pepper, garlic powder, and onion powder
~Cooked halfway through on the griddle/skillet before cooking the monja, pushed to the side, and then added again at the end
Thinly sliced chicken seasoned with salt and white pepper
~Cooked halfway to three fourths through on the griddle/skillet before cooking the monja, pushed to the side, and then added again at the end

Bowl Toppings
Raw egg
~Add on top like any other topping and let it cook with the cabbage
Cooked bacon, chopped
1/2 tbsp Italian seasoning
Diced salami
Diced pepperoni
Diced red onions
Sliced green onions
Shredded, freeze dried squid
1 tbsp curry powder or a bouillon cube-sized piece of concentrated (block) curry spices
Chopped mochi
2-3 tbsp mentaiko (spicy cod roe)
Freeze dried shrimps
Shredded carrots

Final Toppings
Ramen crackers
Bonito flakes
Shredded mozzarella cheese
Shredded parmesan cheese
Aonori (shredded dried seaweed)
Fried bread crumbs