Ugh. Today right? Today’s a bummer. While not technically the darkest day of the year, the Monday after Daylight Savings always feels like the darkest day of the year to me. Days like today kinda make me want to hole up with a good book, or a good TV show marathon, or even a good video game. I haven’t played any video games in many, many years, but those first few dreary I-guess-winter-is-almost-here days always give me the urge.
Were you guys Nintendo/Super Nintendo people? I had a Super Nintendo growing up, and I played it plenty, but I never liked playing it quite as much as I liked watching my mom play. She was way, way, way better than me. We liked Super Mario World best (though we also liked Mario Brothers 3 and the various Donkey Kong iterations), and we got pretty intense about it.
You know how coaches talk about “playing to win,” rather than playing “not to lose”? Well, we played not to lose. In Super Mario World, we would get a ton of lives at that secret place above the Ghost House in Donut Plains (know what I’m talking about??) and then just play whatever level we were stuck on over and over and over until we beat it. The worst thing about Super Mario World was that you couldn’t save your progress after every single level, so we worked out a system where we kept the SNES up and running 24 hours a day to avoid turning it off and losing our progress. Heh.
Was our obsession healthy? Perhaps not. But this zucchini-ricotta pie is! Well. I mean, it has veggies. And no pasta or bread. If you use part-skim ricotta, how bad can it be?
ZUCCHINI-RICOTTA PIE (heavily adapted from Sarcastic Cooking)
3 medium zucchini
1-2 tsp olive oil
1/2 white onion, diced
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 10-oz package frozen chopped spinach, thawed, drained, with water squeezed out
1 cup part-skim ricotta
1 and 1/2 cups mozzarella, shredded (I used fresh mozzarella)
salt and pepper
pinch crushed red pepper flakes, or more to taste
2 cups your favorite marinara sauce
1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Spray 9-inch pie plate lightly with nonstick spray.
2. Peel zucchini into long, thin strips using julienne peeler, potato peeler, or knife. Add julienned zucchini to colander, sprinkle with salt, and let sit 10 or 15 minutes to let water drain out.
3. Meanwhile, heat olive oil in small skillet over medium heat. When hot, add onion and garlic and cook until softened, 4-5 minutes. Let cool slightly
4. In large bowl, combine onion, garlic, spinach, ricotta, and 1 cup shredded mozzarella. Season to taste with salt and pepper and crushed red pepper flakes.
5. Using a paper towel or your clean hands, squeeze excess water out of zucchini (this will help make sure the bottom of the pie isn’t watery). Add zucchini to pie plate, pressing down to create a ‘crust.’ Top evenly with ricotta/spinach mixture, then pour marinara sauce over the top (you may not use the whole 2 cups).
6. Bake, uncovered, in preheated oven for 15 minutes. Remove from oven and top with remaining 1/2 cup shredded mozzarella. Bake an additional five minutes, then let stand 5-10 minutes before serving.
This was a great dish for Meatless Monday! The zucchini was tender but still kinda crisp, and it made a surprisingly good base for the rest of the dish.