Quinoa Zucchini Lasagna
Sundays are my all-time favorite day to cook, especially in the fall. They remind me of days in the 6th grade, when I would spend the day raking leaves or hiking in the park and then come home to an afternoon movie while my Mom cooked dinner for the evening. The house would be enveloped in warmth and sauteed onions, cuddling me on the couch. It didn’t matter what meal we were having, but the Sunday night ritual of dinner table pajamas and the promise of school in the morning is something I’ll never forget.
Yesterday was a day like this, and ended up being a day I missed home. And missed being 11. Actually, make that 8, 11 was such an awkward age.
Despite the excessive amounts of cleaning I should have been doing or the stacks of reading that are currently sitting next to my laptop due for class on Wednesday, I wanted to cook one of those warming meals that you could smell throughout your house, that would make me want to curl up in its steam and make a bed for myself next to the stove.
So Z made marinara sauce, which bubbled away for 2 hours and was thoroughly distracting with the scent of fresh tomatoes and basil. I cooked up the quinoa, so thick and creamy with the addition of cream cheese that I could have eaten the whole pot just standing there. And then the zucchini, bright green and begging to be eaten, please it was picked before the first frost. The recipe came from Mama Pea, who I see as the queen of healthy comfort cooking, and boy did it impress. And to top it off, the vegetarian-ness was destroyed with the accompaniment of the best steak tips I’ve ever had, complimentary samples from The Meat House that just opened in Coolidge Corner.
Quinoa Zucchini Lasagna (Adapted from Peas and Thank You)
2 large zucchinis
1 cup quinoa, rinsed
1 cups chicken stock
1/2 cup tomato sauce
1/4 cup finely chopped onion
1 teaspoon Italian seasoning
1/4 cup freshly chopped parsley
2 tablespoons light cream cheese
Salt and pepper
1.5 cups marinara sauce
1/2 cup shredded mozzarella cheese
Preheat oven to 400*
Chop the top and bottom off of the zucchini and slice each one the long way into 6 pieces. These will be your noodles. Lay the zucchini on a paper towel, sprinkle with salt, put another paper towel on top, and let them sit while the water is released.
Combine the rinsed quinoa, chicken stock, tomato sauce, and onion in a pan. Bring to a boil, lower the heat, cover, and simmer for 20 minutes.
When the quinoa is done cooking, add the cream cheese and parsley and mix thoroughly.
Wipe the zucchini clean of any excess moisture.
In an 8×8 dish, pour 1/2 cup of marinara sauce. Put 4 slices of zucchini, one next to the other. Top with a layer of the quinoa and 1/3 cup of marinara sauce.
Repeat: zucchini, quinoa, marinara.
Add the final zucchini, top with marinara, and top that with the cheese. Bake in the oven for 20 – 30 minutes, or until everything is heated through and the cheese is bubbly.
I just have to say, I’ve had my failure of vegetarian and zucchini lasagna before. But this stayed together perfectly. It was vegetarian lasagna heaven. The 8 year old in me went to bed warm and happy inside. And I’m pretty sure the 11 year old me would have been quite pleased too.