Vegetarian Tortilla Bake

Savoury, vegetarian, packed with filling protein: this Italian-inspired single-serving casserole covers all the bases of a balanced meal and leaves you feeling satisfied.

Tortilla casserole_parsley

Do you ever create recipes that you feel everybody should try right this very second? No intro needed and never-mind-how-unspectacular-this-looks? Yes? Well, this is one of them for me. So go and make this right this very second. Okay, okay, I get it. You’re playing hard to convince today and want me to sing the praises of the dish before you even ave a glance at the actual recipe. I get it.  Luckily, offering just that for this casserole isn’t hard. Because – remember – it’s amazing.

Tortilla casserole_2

  • Easy to prepare.
  • Vegetarian.
  • Filling.
  • Packed with  protein.

If you’ve been around for a while already you might remember my excitement when I finally found tortillas without any sketchy ingredients last year. It’s funny how that’s been almost exactly a year ago to the day and I’m just now back on the tortilla kick. Which reminds me I should remake that vegan enchilada bake before I run out of tortillas again ..

Moving onto today’s dish, though. For one, this isn’t your average tortilla bake because it is not Mexican [not like any of my recipes were completely authentical but you know that]. Rather, I went the Italian route – or at least I deem any thing spiced this way Italian. Parts of this recipe were inspired by a recipe for a pasta bake I saw on another blog [but what I turned it into is completely different so I’m not making sense here …] and what my mum calls her ‘vegetable bolognese’. That is in fact nothing like meat bolognese at all but delicious in its own right so I won’t lecture her about that one.

Tortilla casserole_1.

The deliciously doughy tortilla, the creamy filling and plenty of full-bodied vegetable ragout-like sauce make this one satisfying dish. If I haven’t convinced you yet … well, you’re missing out.

Vegetarian Tortilla Bake

  • 1 flour tortilla [may use a gluten-free one]

Vegetable sauce:

  • 3/4 cup passata/tomato sauce
  • 1 small onion, diced finely
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • 1 small carrot, diced finely
  • 1/2 medium zucchini [~ 100 g], diced finely
  • 1 tsp dried mixed Italian herbs**

coconut oil for frying and greasing the pan

For the filling:

  • 1/2 cup cottage cheese
  • 1/3 cup chickpeas
  • 1/2 tsp cumin
  • pepper to taste
  • 1 tbsp nutritional yeast
  • optional: a handful of chopped broccoli [I’ve made this without but the time I took pictures had a package of frozen florets leftover so I added some thawed and chopped ones to the filling]

 

  1. Sauté the onion until translucent. Add the garlic and cook for another minute.
  2. Add about 2/3 of the chopped vegetables. Stir, cover and let cook for around five minutes or until vegetables are at your preferred level of tenderness. I like mine to still have some bite to them but it’s up to you.
  3. Pour in the tomato sauce. Season with pepper and herbs. Cover the pot again and let simmer while you prepare the filling. If the sauce looks too thick, add about a 1/4 cup of water.*
  4. For the filling mash the chickpeas with a few tablespoons of water. I chose to leave some whole chickpeas in there but you could also blend all of them for a hummus-like puree. Stir in cottage cheese, cumin and nutrional yeast. Add pepper to taste.
  5. Add a few spoonfuls of sauce to your prepared casserole dish. Cover with half of the tortilla. Spread with half of the filling and the reserved chopped vegetables. Cover with the remaining tortilla and pour the vegetable sauce on top.
  6. Drop dollops of remaining cottage cheese filling.
  7. Bake for about 20 minutes.
  8. Let sit for a few minutes before serving.

Notes:

* You want the sauce to be on the thinner side but not soupy as the tortilla soaks up a lot of liquid while baking.

** The blend I used consists of oregano, basil, rosemary and thyme so these could be substituted.

Tortilla casserole_inside_4

… and fresh herbs straight from the garden for decorative purposes make everything better.

In hopes of spreading the tortilla trend I’m sharing this for Recipe of the weekTasty Tuesdays, Real Food Recipes, Strange but good and Gluten-Free Wednesdays.

 

Happiness-inducing today:  Visiting a theatre play spontaneously. I enjoy going but with lack of options around it still doesn’t happen regularly.
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Where do you get the inspiration for your cooking?

Have you ever used tortillas in a non-Mexican dish?

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Pastinake not pasta [Parsnip Lasagna]

Sometimes I wonder what the blog world has done to me – or more precisely my mind when it comes to recupe creating. But to let you in on my thoughts a little more I’ll begin at the beginning, okay? In an effort to use up as much produce as possible [sounds familiar 😉 ?] before leaving for my grandparents’ house for Christmas I had to come up with some meals to use them in. My initial idea was a vegetable lasagna simply chopping up every vegetable in sight and add it to the sauce part of the dish.

Pasta-naken

But when I started rummaging through my impressive vegetable stash I realized a sauce could only host so many veggies until becoming a stew. Add in that I didn’t have any lasagna sheets at hand and spaghetti [the only kind of pasta I did have] just wouldn’t have quenched my cravings. Spotting some of my favourite winter vegtables – parsnips – my mind quickly changed into strange but good mode and got spinning.

Dish_parsnip

Thinking about it maybe it’s not just Laura’s influence on my recipe creations but also the name of the vegetable itself. Pastinaken as they are called in German sounds similar enough to pasta[-naken], no? Yes, totally not what I thought initially but it came to mind when I took the first bites and laughed at myself for not trying it any earlier. Parsnips as a sub for the pasta layers: why not?*

* here’s to hoping I either don’t have any Italian readers or – preferably – none that will get mad at me for daring to present a pasta-less lasagna. Dear Italians: I like pasta [almost] as much as you, promise.

Parsnip_layer

You’ll notice this recipe – unlike my others – is not vegan. That’s because I still consider myself a vegan with benefits and couldn’t pass up the cottage cheese when it was on special offer recently. Yet another impulse purchase with no idea on how to use it in mind. Some things will never change. However, I’d seen recipe for cottage cheese lasagna before and got curious.

Cottage cheese

The verdict: Pretty good. The cheese added a unique and very interesting texture – and you know that’s a key criterion for me – as well as creaminess to the dish without being too heavy like other kinds of cheese or bechamel sauce – and way faster [hello, impatience]!  Give it a try if you haven’t yet. And parsnips as ‘lasagna sheets’? Awesome. Flavourful. And once more an exciting texture element. That’s all I have to say.

Parsnip Cottage Cheese Lasagna

Sauce:

  • 200 g carrots, chopped into half-moons
  • 150 g zucchini [a small to medium one]
  • ½ tsp garlic powder
  • about a 1/4 tsp each smoked paprika, oregano, thyme [season to taste]
  • 1/2 small red onion, chopped or onion powder
  • salt + pepper
  • 150 g passata [a scant 3/4 cup]
  • 1/4 cup chickpeas
  • 1 small parsnip [100 g], sliced thinly into rounds
  • 100 g mushrooms, sliced
  • 115 g (1/2 cup) cottage cheese, mixed with 1/4 tsp dried basil
  1.  For the sauce: If using fresh onion [recommended] sauté in a small sauce pan until translucent. Add the carrots and sauté covered for about 3-4 minutes. Add the zucchini and spices [onion powder if using it, too], stir-frying so the zucchini and carrots get browned a little.
  2. Pour in the passata and mix in the chickpeas.
  3. To assemble: Layer mushrooms into the bottom of a casserole dish. Add a layer of sauce. Top with about half of the cottage cheese.
  4. Layer parsnips on top. Cover with the remaining sauce and cottage cheese. It’s important to end with tomato sauce to avoid burning/drying out the cottage cheese.
  5. Bake covered for about 25 minutes at 350 °F.

Pastinaken-Lasagne

Trust me when I say this one’s not too strange to appeal to ‘normal’ eaters, either. Just maybe don’t call it lasagna but simply parsnip bake in that case. Or do however you like – because who’s listening to recommendations in anyway? I recommend, however, that you take a look at some more recipe inspiration over at Kierston’s and Laura’s for some more food fun on this fine Friday*.

* my fondness of alliterations is a well-known fact by now and I’m okay with that.

Happiness inducing today: A rainy weather run after two rest days over Christmas.

Are you a fan of parnips? What’s your favourite way to use them? Have you ever tried cottage cheese in lasagna?