I am in love with my local grocery store’s tradition of placing non-perfect, “day old” or otherwise needy fruits and veggies in bags near the back of the store. Everything in the bag is 99 cents. I always come home from the local market with a strange assortment of ugly vegetables. The bags are opaque so you can’t really tell what you’re getting although if you feel up the bags you can avoid the potatoes and bananas (MANAGER! Crazy lady on aisle 3 fondling the bargain bags!)
When I got home and checked out my haul, I realized tonight’s offerings really needed to be eaten soon. I got three healthy zucchini, a couple of elderly tomatoes and a wizened looking jalapeno in one bag, and a dozen so-so mini-eggplants in another. My last one held two nice heads of lettuce which I couldn’t find a thing wrong with. The mini-eggplants are sitting on the counter waiting for Saturday, and the salad will do for lunch tomorrow. I decided to play my favorite cooking game, recipe roulette, with the rest. I googled “zucchini and ground beef” (since i had a couple of packs I needed to use up) deciding I would cook whatever recipe came up first (with some reservations: it had to be a recipe that was low-carb–or adaptable to low-carb—AND tasty-sounding.) This is what I got:
ZUCCHINI & GROUND BEEF CASSEROLE
1 lb. ground beef
1 c. chopped celery
2 c. sliced zucchini
Salt & pepper
1 (8 oz.) can tomatoes, cut up
3 tbsp. Worcestershire sauce
1 tsp. sugar
3 tbsp. grated Parmesan cheese
Brown beef and celery in skillet, remove with slotted spoon and set aside. Saute zucchini in pan drippings until lightly browned; remove with slotted spoon.
In greased 1 1/2 quart casserole alternate layers of beef mixture and zucchini. Sprinkle lightly with salt and pepper. Stir together tomatoes, Worcestershire sauce and sugar; pour over casserole. Sprinkle with cheese. Bake in 350 degree oven for 40 minutes or until bubbly.
(Courtesy of cooks.com)
I did do some tweaking because I had no celery or worcestershire sauce. I just left those ingredients out. And the sugar, forgettaboudit. I used freshly chopped tomatoes instead of canned, and sprinkled parmesan cheese more liberally than the recipe probably intended. And it turned out great….a real winter dish for the windy cold nights we’ve been having here in Los Angeles. If you’re a ground beef fan like me (those big value packs always tempt me, with their flirtatious beefy whispers I’m such a good deal! Buy me and turn me into almost anything!) this one will be a quick solution to that age old problem…how the hell can I use this up?