words by Alicia Steele
photography by Quinn Wilson and Alicia Steele
Pulling vibrations from the garden, her speakers, and community change, join Alicia as she seeks easy ways to keep your body running on healthy, righteous foods.
There’s a vegetable mission taking place under my roof; the objective, to lower the amounts of breads and meats we consume and feel satisfied. My mother used to make a similar zucchini pie when I was a kid, no crust, still called pie (don't question your mama). Really this is an easy way to use up any old vegetables, especially if there are limpy greens or peppers in the back of the fridge. Play around with this (and all recipes) to find what fits your vibe.
I make cheaters sauce all the time, judge me. Busy weeks full of office work, writing, looking for an apt, babysitting, meditating...really, we all can find ways to fill our time and get distracted. I seek out opportunities for supportive shortcuts whenever I can*. When you get invited to a birthday dinner or holiday party, that’s when you slow cook some thick, spicy homemade sauce that will keep the people talking till the next time (recipe for that in the future…). For this dish though, it’s important the sauce layers on thick. All of those veggies are going to sweat out and add water. If your sauce is too thick, the dish will end up like zucchini stew, which is also delicious.
*However, in our busy lives, we/I need to look for opportunities to nurture and celebrate ourselves.
4 green zucchini, sliced about ¼” thick lengthwise (like lasagna noodles)
1 lb white fresh mushrooms, sliced
1/2 onion, julienned (thin slices)
1 green pepper, diced
1.5 cups frozen spinach (or more), thawed/drained
½ cup sliced green olives
Fresh parsley, basil
1 container ricotta cheese (15oz)
1.5 cups shredded mozzarella cheese
fresh cracked pepper
1 jar of whatever thick pasta sauce you enjoy or is on sale
¼ cup good red wine
1 T fresh basil
2 T onion, diced
¾ T minced garlic
1 t cinnamon
¾ T crushed red pepper (or more if you nasty)
Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
Start by heating up your sauce on medium low. Add the wine, basil, onion, garlic, cinnamon, and crushed pepper, stir and allow to simmer on low while preparing vegetables, occasionally going back to stir. Remember, the sauce should be thick.
I have a mandolin slicer, it is the best tool for the zucchini layers because it keeps them even. If you don’t have one, make sure to use a sharp knife and take it slow. Crack the egg into the package of ricotta and stir with some fresh cracked pepper, set aside. Once you have all of your veggies and cheeses prepped, it’s time to layer the pie.
In a 10x15” baking dish with high sides layer the bottom with a spoonful of sauce. Layer the pan with zucchini, it’ll usually take about 8-10 slices of zucchini per layer. Next put a layer of mushrooms, onions and green pepper, followed by ricotta mixture and another layer of zucchini. Top the zucchini with sauce and layer on veggies, ricotta, this time adding a layer of mozzarella. Keep repeating the layers till you get to the top minus the cheese.
Bake at 350 for 45-55 minutes. About 30 minutes in top the pie with mozzarella and bake for the remaining time. Call people to the table, let the pie cool for 10 minutes and serve.