Monday, January 21, 2013
Italian spaghetti squash bake
I've gone from not really liking spaghetti squash, to being a little sad that I used the last one in our winter stash to make this dish (again). Luckily, it makes a lot and I get a couple lunches out of it, too. This spaghetti squash bake is a combination of this recipe from Girlichef and a dish I've made with spaghetti squash in the past. Spaghetti squash it such an interesting vegetable. That it transforms from this big, heavy and hard winter squash into light little strands is quite amazing. I think a lot of people try to "replace" noodles with spaghetti squash strands and I think that's why it never worked for me. I went in with the wrong mindset. Once I accepted that the spaghetti squash was the star in its own right, I began to appreciate it more. And while this dish could certainly use spaghetti in place of the squash, I would rather have it with the squash. That's the sign of my official transformation to a spaghetti squash fan. Incidentally, my other favorite way to eat spaghetti squash is this gratin - it's delicious.
This dish may not be the most photogenic, but it's still truly delicious. The below recipe will make enough to feed four to six people.
Italian spaghetti squash bake
1 medium-large spaghetti squash
1 tablespoon olive oil, plus more for greasing
1 lb. bulk Italian sausage (I used hot chicken Italian sausage)
1 small onion, diced
3 cloves garlic, minced
1/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes
2 teaspoons Italian seasoning, divided
good pinch of sea salt and a couple grinds of black pepper
1 cup thawed and roughly chopped frozen spinach
1 28 oz. jar tomato puree
1 16 oz. container ricotta cheese
1-1/2 cups shredded mozzarella cheese
Preheat the oven to 375 degrees. Cut the spaghetti squash in half lengthwise. Remove the seeds. Place cut side down on a rimmed baking sheet and bake until you can easily pierce it with a fork, about 30 minutes. Let cool. When cool, use a fork to remove and separate the spaghetti squash strands into a large bowl.
In a large and deep skillet, heat one tablespoon of olive oil. When hot, add the sausage and cook, stirring occasionally and breaking apart with a wooden spoon, until golden and cooked through. Drain most of the fat and then add the onion and garlic. Cook, stirring often, until the onion is softened. Stir in the red pepper, 1-1/2 teaspoons of Italian seasoning, salt, and pepper. Cook for about 2 minutes and then add the tomato puree. Stir will and cook until heated through. Stir in the spinach and spaghetti squash until well-combined.
Turn the oven up to 400 degrees. Place a large and deep baking dish onto a baking sheet in case it bubbles over. Lightly oil the baking dish. Add half of the spaghetti squash mixture to the dish and spread evenly. Then spread the ricotta evenly on top. Place the remaining spaghetti squash mixture on top of the ricotta. Spread evenly. Top with the mozzarella cheese and sprinkle with the remaining 1/2 teaspoon of Italian seasoning.
Bake until bubbly and the cheese is melted and golden. Let sit for about five minutes and then serve.
What was I cooking one year ago?: pistachio-orange-cardamom shortbread bars
Two years ago?: cashew chicken korma
Three?: Matcha tea leaf shortbread cookies