Back in February, our friend Catherine invited us to stay at her family’s house by the Berkshire East Ski Resort. It was only my third time skiing, having grown up in the flat Midwest, and I’m a bit of a klutz, so I was cautiously looking forward to it. Catherine’s boyfriend Jonathan, a skiing phenomenon who just missed making the US Olympic team, gave me a lesson and by the end of the day I could actually get off the ski lift without falling off and make it down all the green runs successfully. It was an amazing experience and now I’ve got a bit of the ski bug and can’t wait to go again next year! Everyone in Catherine’s family was so warm and hospitable and we felt right at home!
After a long day on the slopes, Catherine’s mom served us a fantastic Italian meatball lasagna. I had never had lasagna with meatballs in it before and loved how cute and tasty they were and immediately knew I was going to come up with a version at home. I finally got around to experimenting with this idea and decided to do a twist on her recipe and pack my lasagna with Greek flavors!
Now, this is not a quick and easy weeknight dish. Multiple steps are involved and it takes some time, but I think it is completely worth it! I like to put cooked veggies in my meatballs because I think it helps keep them moist, so I packed the meatballs with onions, red peppers, and garlic, and layered the lasagna with the mini-meatballs, roasted eggplant and zucchini, ricotta, and feta. Yum – it was super tasty and filling and I’ve already looking forward to leftovers!
Greek Meatball Lasagna with Roasted Eggplant and Zucchini
1 eggplant, sliced into 1/2-inch thick rounds
2 zucchinis, sliced into 1/2-inch thick rounds
1/4 cup olive oil
1 yellow onion, chopped
1 red pepper, chopped
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 1/2 pounds ground turkey
1/2 cup breadcrumbs
2 teaspoons salt
2 teaspoons ground oregano
1 package whole wheat lasagna noodles
1 15-ounce package part-skim ricotta
5 cups of your favorite tomato sauce
2 cups crumbled feta cheese
2 cups shredded mozzarella cheese
Preheat the oven to 450ºF. Place sliced eggplant and zucchini on a large cookie sheet and drizzle with 3 tablespoons olive oil. Toss the veggies to make sure they are evenly coated with the oil and bake at 450ºF for 20 to 25 minutes or until roasted.
Meanwhile, heat remaining 1 tablespoon of olive oil over medium heat in a large skillet and sauté chopped onions and red pepper for 5 to 7 minutes or until soft. Add garlic and sauté one additional minute. Let cool to room temperature.
Reduce oven heat to 350ºF. Place cooled onion and pepper mixture with ground turkey, 1 egg, breadcrumbs, 1 teaspoon salt, and 1 teaspoon oregano in a large bowl and knead until well combined. Roll into 35 small meatballs (will be about 1 1/4-inches in diameter) and place onto a greased cookie sheet. Bake at 350ºF for 20 to 25 minutes or until no longer pink in the center.
Meanwhile, bring a large pot of water to a boil and cook lasagna noodles according to the directions on the package. Mix the ricotta, remaining egg, 1 teaspoon salt and 1 teaspoon oregano in a medium bowl until smooth.
To assemble the lasagna, place a layer of 4 noodles in a greased 13×9-inch pan and top it with half the ricotta mixture, half the roasted veggies, all the meatballs, 3 cups tomato sauce, and 1 cup feta. Top this layer with 4 more noodles, the remaining half of the ricotta mixture, the remaining half of the roasted veggies, 2 cups tomato sauce, and 1 cup feta. Then place the remaining 4 noodles on top and sprinkle evenly with all mozzarella cheese. Bake at 350ºF for 45 minutes or until cheese is melted on top. Makes 12 servings.
Nutrition: 442 calories, 21.6g fat, 5.6g fiber, 29.3g protein per serving
Cost: $1.56 per serving