In honor of my leaving Germany, I set about thinking of a perfect goodbye meal for my dear friends living in Berlin. It couldn’t be too fancy or difficult to make… but it also had to scream *comfort* and *I promise I’m not leaving you*. Hmm, what to cook? Then it struck me, a casserole – but not just any casserole – something with delicious ground meat of some kind. My original plan was to use ground turkey with basil as the main seasoning… alas, Kaufland grocery store had it’s way and I was left with the classic ground beef. The idea was mostly thrown together on spur of the moment thought, so forgive me if the recipe is a bit haphazard – and if you don’t like cheese… you probably shouldn’t be eating this (or touching it with a 10-foot pole).
- 1 lb of ground beef/turkey
- 1 zucchini, sliced
- 1 red onion, diced
- 1 yellow onion, diced
- 4 cloves of garlic, minced
- 3-4 heirloom tomatoes, sliced
- 2 bags of shredded mozzarella cheese
- 1/2 can of tomato sauce
- one small container of cherry tomatoes, diced
- Seasonings: cayenne pepper, salt, pepper, oregano, basil
- Start by getting your prep work out of the way. Dice away your onions, slice your tomatoes, zucchini and mince the garlic. Preheat the oven to 375F
- Now… heat your pan. When it sizzles to water, put in the ground beef and season liberally with whatever spices you choose. Add in the onions and garlic at this point and let the mixture cook, covered for 7-8 minutes on medium heat
- Periodically check that, you don’t want to overcook the ground beef! When the meat is primarily brown in color, add in the zucchini and tomatoes and tomato sauce – taste more frequently at this point… now that there is no raw meat in the mixture until you find the flavor profile that you especially are after in your dish. Maybe you want to add some different veggies or toppings? Go ahead! Let sit covered for 6-8 minutes
- Get a casserole dish out, and butter it. Now, spoon in a small amount of your skillet mixture, allowing a light layer to form at the bottom of the dish. Now, add in a thick layer of mozzarella cheese. Add in more of the skillet mixture, and pile on more cheese… continue doing this until you feel like you’ve added as much cheese as you can stomach (which is all of it).
- Toss it in the oven until the cheese on the top is lightly browning (10-20ish minutes)
- Eat it.
As you can see, it’s not the most difficult recipe. In fact, casserole dishes of any kind will all have this similar structure to it – so as of reading this sentence, you are ready and able to create any casserole style dish that tickles your fancy. Given this was all spur-of-the-moment cooking, it takes a certain amount of… imagination and hopefulness, so bring that with you the kitchen when getting ready to tackle it. It’s fantastic for a last meal abroad and imagining this in winter already gives me chills… and I can’t wait to try it. Let me know if you made any alternations and how they worked out for you! Until next time.