A homemade tomato sauce would make this family-friendly dish taste like summer, but store-bought sauce works, too. Ground beef with onion, celery and green bell pepper is mixed with some of the sauce to create meaty layers.
This freezes well, either baked or unbaked.
Servings: 6 - 8
- 1 pound lean ground beef
- 1 medium onion, cut into 1/4-inch dice
- 2 medium cloves garlic, minced
- 2 ribs celery, trimmed and cut into 1/4-inch dice
- 1/2 cup 1/4-inch diced green bell pepper
- 6 cups homemade or store-bought spaghetti sauce
- 1 teaspoon chopped basil leaves
- 1 to 2 pounds mix of summer squashes, such as pattypan, yellow and zucchini, trimmed and cut crosswiseinto 1/4-inch slices
- 1 cup Italian-style dried bread crumbs
- 1/2 cup shredded mozzarella cheese (may use low-fat)
- 1/2 cup Parmesan cheese
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Lightly grease a 9- by 12-inch baking dish with nonstick cooking oil spray.
Brown the ground beef in a large nonstick skillet over medium heat, stirring occasionally to break up any large clumps. (The meat does not have to be cooked all the way through.) Drain off as much of the fat as possible, then add the onion, garlic, celery and green bell pepper to the skillet. Cook for 6 to 8 minutes, stirring occasionally, until the vegetables have softened.
When the mixture has browned, add 2 cups of the spaghetti sauce and the basil; mix well, then remove from the heat.
Meanwhile, fill a large saucepan with an inch or two of water; heat over medium-high heat.
Cut the different squashes into 1/4-inch slices and add to the saucepan. Cook, covered, for 2 to 3 minutes, or until the slices are slightly tender but not fully softened. Drain and set aside.
To assemble: Create a single layer of the par-cooked squash slices in the bottom of the baking dish, then layer in the following order in even amounts: the meat-vegetable sauce, the bread crumbs, some of the remaining 4 cups of spaghetti sauce and the mozzarella and Parmesan cheeses; repeat twice to use all the ingredients, ending with a sprinkling of bread crumbs over the remaining cheeses. Bake for about 1 hour, or until the cheese and bread crumbs have started to brown. Serve hot.
From Robin Bartenfelder of Bartenfelder Farm in Fullerton, Md.
Tested by Bonnie S. Benwick.
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