Spaghetti Squash Bake
The other day I had a spaghetti squash that was lingering in the kitchen and I wanted to do something with it besides just make a substitute for spaghetti. This pasta-like bake is a little more exciting! It’s filled with lots of vibrant flavors that help bring it to life. And it was delish.
1 Spaghetti Squash
Salt & Pepper
2 cups Marinara (I use Victoria because it’s fresh and simple)
2 tbsp Capers
2 tbsp finely chopped Castelvetrano Olives
½ cup chopped Grape Tomatoes
3 tbsp Pesto (whatever kind you like)
2 tbsp fresh herbs (like Basil or Parsley)
¼ cup chopped Fresh Mozzarella
1 tsp of chopped Garlic
Pinch of Red Pepper Flakes
A good helping of Shredded Parmesan
First, cook the squash. Preheat oven to 400. Chop it in half, scoop out the seeds, and brush with olive oil and sprinkle with salt and pepper. Place cut-side down on a foil-lined baking sheet. Poke a few holes in it with a fork.
Cook for 30-40 minutes until the inside feels soft enough for you to fork out the goodness. Once it’s done, fork out the goodness and put in a loaf pan (or similar sized oven-safe pan).
While the squash is cooking, get a medium sized saucepan going with all the other Sauce goodies. Simmer until warm and ready for mixing into the squash.
Put everything but the Parmesan in the loaf pan, mixing well, and cover with foil. Put back in the oven (still at 400) and cook for 30 minutes. Remove the foil and add parmesan, then put under the broiler for 10 minutes or until the Parmesan looks crispy.
Serve with garlic bread (because you’re not getting all the carbs from real pasta, right?).
Orzo Caprese Salad
One of my favorite vegetarian dishes at my college dining hall was orzo with feta and tomatoes. So simple and so flavorful! I decided to up the flavor with basil in this simple dish that’s perfect served cold. It’s become a potluck or picnic staple.
1 cup Orzo, cooked according to package directions
1-½ cups Grape tomatoes, chopped
1 cup fresh Basil, thinly sliced
2 tbsp Olive Oil
Salt & Pepper, to taste
Cook the orzo. When drained and cool, mix with all the other ingredients. Done.
Tuscan Stuffed Mushrooms
We are lucky enough to live within walking distance of a number of friends in our neighborhood in south Boulder. We have long toyed with the idea of doing a progressive dinner at our respective houses, and finally, last Saturday, we made the magic happen! We chose a theme of Italy 1962, and dressed and cooked accordingly.
My job was simple—I was the first house, so I was responsible for appetizers, and tried to go out of my way to make them special. Of course I turned to Giada De Laurentiis for inspiration, since she’s got a way of making simple ingredients taste great. (You can find her original recipe here.) I served these with some edamame-arugula crostini (I’ll post that recipe later), as well as some simple prosciutto-wrapped asparagus. Voila! Delightful Italian summer afternoon fare.
One note was that I wished I had worked harder to find large button mushrooms—some of them were so small it was hard to fit any stuffing in! And use your hands to pull out the mushroom stems—it will pull out in one piece and create a nice little cavity for your filling.
1/2 cup jarred Roasted Red Peppers, diced
1/2 cup pitted Green Olives, diced
1/2 cup grated Pecorino Romano cheese
2 Scallions, diced
2 tbsp Olive Oil
1/2 tsp Salt
1/4 tsp Black Pepper
1 pound large White Button Mushrooms, cleaned and stemmed
1/4 cup Fresh Basil Leaves, finely chopped
Preheat the oven to 400* F.
In a medium bowl, combine the roasted red bell peppers, olives, cheese, scallions, olive oil, salt and pepper.
Line a baking sheet with parchment paper, and place the mushrooms, cavity side up, on top. Spoon the filling into the mushrooms, and bake until the mushrooms are tender, about 20 minutes.
Transfer the mushrooms to a serving platter, sprinkle with chopped basil and serve.
Black Truffle Mac n Cheese
Check out 30 Days 30 Ways with Macaroni and Cheese for more amazing takes on this old classic.
1 lb short-cut pasta, such as Gemelli
3 oz Black Truffle Butter
1/2 cup all-purpose Flour
1 quart Whole Milk, heated
1/4 cup Brown Mustard
12 oz Wisconsin Gruyere Cheese, grated
4 oz Wisconsin Sharp Cheddar, grated
4 oz Wisconsin Fontina, grated
1 tsp freshly ground Black Pepper
1-1/2 tbsp salt
3 slices Rye Bread
1 tbsp Butter
1 tsp Garlic Salt
Preheat oven to 375 degrees.
Prepare pasta according to package directions, removing it from the water a minute or two before cooking time to make sure it’s appropriately al dente. Drain pasta and set aside.
While pasta is cooking, toast the rye bread. When finished, lightly butter toast, then coarsely chop and throw in the food processor. Add garlic salt and pulse until bread is crumby. Set aside.
Empty the quart of milk into one large saucepan, on medium-high heat. Stir occasionally.
In another large saucepan, melt the truffle butter. Once liquid, stir in the flour. Cook for a few minutes, stirring continuously, until butter and flour are thick and creamy. Slowly begin whisking in the hot milk until you have one great white sauce, then add the mustard and combine.
Pour mixture into a large bowl with gruyere, cheddar and fontina and combine. Season with salt and pepper, then add drained pasta. Mix well, then transfer to a 13x9 casserole dish. Top with bread crumbs and bake for 35 to 45 minutes, until the sauce is bubbly and the crumbs are golden brown. Serve nearly immediately.
This is one of my Italian restaurant faves, with a few tasty veggies added. I got the recipe from my new friend Eowyn, a real Italian girl who's considering becoming a veg too. I told her to consider swapping half of the ricotta for tofu (like I do in the lasagne recipe).
Veggie Stuffed Peppers
A healthy variation on an Italian classic! My grandmother used to make these. Make the rice or quinoa ahead of time, then add to the mix at the end.