Vacation Zucchini Casserole

What do you do with excess zucchini when friends go on vacation and welcome you to help yourself to their extras?  (Especially when you miss one that hides well and it gets pretty big?)  You invent a new casserole, of course!  Doesn’t everyone do that?  ;D

Vacation Zucchini Casserole

  • lots of zucchini, sliced thinly – no more than 1/4″ thick (mine was about 1 ft. long with a 3″ diameter)
  • frozen shredded hash brown potatoes
  • 1 8-10 oz. package vegan cheese, shredded
  • 1 large onion, sliced thinly and broken apart into separate rings or half rings
  • 2 jars (24 oz.) of your favorite spaghetti sauce
  • 1 pkg. vegan chorizo (mine was from Trader Joe’s, but Walmart has one, too)

Preheat oven to 350°.

Chop chorizo with a fork into the spaghetti sauce.  Put 1/3 of the sauce into the bottom of a 4 qt. dish.  Add a layer of frozen potatoes so that the sauce is barely seen or not at all.  Add a layer of zucchini.  Cover with half of the cheese.  Add a layer of onion rings.  Add another 1/3 of the sauce.  Cover with another layer of zucchini, then cheese, then potatoes.  Finish with the last 1/3 of the sauce.  Cover with foil and bake for 30 minutes.  Turn oven up to 450° and continue baking for another 45-60 minutes.

Serve with garlic bread to dip into the marvelous saucy, spicy juices, or serve over rice, quinoa, or pasta.

Vegan Flat Meatballs or Meatloaf

Sometimes I discover a great dish completely by accident.  Sometimes I even discover two ~ with the same ingredients!  A few weeks ago, I had some packaged vegan “meatballs” from Trader Joe’s that I wanted to use up in spaghetti sauce over pasta.  Hubby and I are avoiding wheat, so I had to find something else for us while the teenage vacuums ate the meatballs and pasta.  I had 6 or 8 small leftover Unburgers in the freezer.  I figured those would work for us as a kind of, well, flat meatball.  I layered them with spaghetti sauce and popped them into the microwave.  We scooped them onto cooked rice ~ and it was unbelievably good!  (Hubby did say he’d prefer not having the sunflower seeds in the Unburgers this way.  I didn’t mind them.)

Segue to last Friday.  I needed food prepared ahead of time that could be reheated in the oven for after church the next day.  I remembered just how good those Unburgers were as flat meatballs.  I didn’t have enough leftover Unburgers in the freezer (I was down to 1), and I wanted to omit the sunflower seeds this time for hubby’s and an allergic family member’s sake anyway.  So, I whipped up a fresh batch of very large patties (4 1/2-5 inches.)  I thought about trying to form them into balls and baking them, but I didn’t have the energy or time to experiment.  I layered the patties in a 4-qt. dish with spaghetti sauce, filling all the nooks and crannies with sauce, too.  (I had a loaded casserole and only 2 patties leftover.)  I covered the dish with foil and popped them in the frig until the next morning.  I put them in my automatic oven the next day set to bake for an hour along with some smashed potatoes.  Unfortunately, we had car trouble after church and didn’t get home and eat until much later than planned.  The oven had stayed warm for the most part, so I just turned it back on for 15 minutes or so when we got home to make sure everything was hot enough.

Surprise!!  My flat meatballs and sauce destined for topping the smashed potatoes had turned into something completely different!  The Unburgers soaked up all the excess moisture from the spaghetti sauce and became a marvelous super thick meatloaf!  I quickly pulled out some vegan-style “butter” and soy sour cream for the potatoes that were now without their saucy topping.  Everybody ~ all 7 of us ~ loved it!  And that 4-qt. dish?  Well, there was only half of it gone, even after J ate his fill.  Next time I will make a smaller pan and save the other Unburgers in the freezer for an “oh-no!-there’s-nothing-in-the-house-to-eat-fast-and-we-have-to-leave-soon” night.  (Come on…you don’t have those nights?  Then how about an “oh-no!-I’m-too-blasted-tired-to-cook” night?  Uh-huh…I thought so.)

So, now I have 2 recipes ~ sort of.  Wait…actually there are 3 things that can be done with the Unburger ingredients list.  How handy!  This is multi-tasking in triplicate.  😀

If any of you like to experiment, try forming the Unburger batter into meatballs and bake or fry them.  Then let me know how it comes out.

Vegan Flat Meatballs or Meatloaf

  • Leftover Unburgers (or a fresh batch)
  • spaghetti sauce (I used a fairly plain one with mushrooms)
  • rice, pasta, or mashed potatoes

Layer Unburgers with spaghetti sauce (plenty if you want saucy flat meatballs) and either immediately heat up and serve over hot rice, pasta, or mashed potatoes, or cover and refrigerate; heat at 375° for 45-60 minutes the next day and serve as a meatloaf-style dish.