Can someone please make this winter stop? I mean seriously. It is late March and it is snowing! We had gorgeous weather on Saturday — a friend and I went for a hike on the Appalachian Trail, wearing short sleeves and shorts, and enjoyed some ice cream afterwards…just for the temperature to never climb above 45 on Sunday. And snow today.
Alright, that little rant aside, let’s get back to more important topics, like food. Oddly enough, a conversation with friends on Friday night, after a few beers, turned to…spaghetti squash. [Is this what happens when you’re “grown up”?] Half of the people were in Camp No Way, while the other half thought it was a mostly acceptable pasta substitute. No one went so far as to say they preferred it, though. And one person said she mixes it with equal parts pasta so her kids will eat it. I brought up the question of using it not as fake pasta but as its own stand-alone ingredient, like as a taco filling.
I got some dumbfounded looks, to put it mildly.
Alright, I concede, there doesn’t seem to be much else to do with the stringy squash. A quick Google search yields about a billion pasta swap-type dishes* and, like, 5 other recipes. So I decided to stop trying to swim against the current and just pretend it’s some damn pasta. But I realized, after last time I made spaghetti squash, that some thin tomato sauce wasn’t gonna cut it. The squash needs to be elevated by flavorful ingredients like lots of veggies for texture and, yes, some fat for satiety (from cheese, which also provides lots of protein).
So this baked casserole is a nice compromise, I think. If you’ve tried spaghetti squash before and didn’t like it (like I did), re-evaluate your mindset and give it another try. It might surprise you how much you like it!
How do you feel about spaghetti squash? What are your fave ways to eat it?
*Next time I’ll need to try one of the Asian-style pasta swaps — perhaps in some veggie lo mein?
Spaghetti Squash CasseroleIt’s not quite lasagna or pasta casserole but it sure is healthier! The squash retains a nice bite that pairs nicely with the richness of the ricotta while the veggies add color and flavor. The saltiness of the olives and feta pair perfectly with the tart/sweet of the sun-dried tomato. You won’t even miss the pasta! Serves 3 as a vegetarian main course or about 6 as a side — and it’s even better tomorrow for lunch. Ready in about 45 minutes.
- 1 spaghetti squash (about 3 lbs)
- 1/2 red onion
- 1 red bell pepper
- 4 cups spinach, kale, or other green (I used Yukina from my CSA)
- 16 oz whole-milk ricotta cheese (15 oz container is okay)
- 1 egg
- 2 oz feta, crumbled
- 1/4 cup kalamata olives, chopped
- 2 tbsp sun-dried tomatoes, chopped
- olive oil
- salt & pepper
- Cut squash in half and remove seeds and stringy bits. Place on a plate, cut side down, and microwave for 10-12 minutes, until flesh is fork-tender. Set aside to cool enough to handle.
- Preheat oven to 400 degrees. While squash is cooking, chop onion and pepper and saute until soft in a tablespoon or so of olive oil. Add S&P to taste.
- Combine ricotta, egg, half of the feta, a generous sprinkle of salt & pepper, and another tablespoon of olive oil in a very large bowl, mix well.
- Once peppers and onions are soft, add spinach/greens and cook until just wilted. Add to the ricotta mixture.
- Once squash is cool enough to handle, use a fork to separate the flesh into strands. Add to the ricotta-veg mixture and stir to combine.
- Spray a baking dish with olive oil spray and transfer the squash into it. Top with the remaining feta. Bake for 20 minutes, until bubbly and starting to brown in some spots. Let cool for at least 5 minutes before serving.