Monday, August 15, 2011

Spaghetti Squash, Tomatoes, Mozzarella, and Basil

Dinner tonight was...

Spaghetti Squash, Tomatoes, Mozzarella, and Basil

There are several ways to cook spaghetti squash: whole or cut in half, in the oven or in the microwave, with water or without... This recipe is how I do mine, but you're welcome to try something different for the squash.

Ingredients:
1 spaghetti squash–not gigantic, but not tiny
2–3 roma tomatoes, diced (cherry or grape tomatoes, halved, would be yummy too!)
8ish oz. mozzarella (I found smoked mozzarella, which was soo good.)
8–12 leaves fresh basil, chiffonade
1/2 Tbsp butter or olive oil
1 small onion, diced
2–3 cloves garlic, minced or pressed
8 oz. tomato sauce
Salt and pepper to-taste

Directions:
• Preheat oven to 375°/400°. Use a large, sharp knife to stab several holes in the squash. Stick the whole thing in the oven. Cook for 30 minutes. Remove from oven and cut in half length-wise. (Either wait a few minutes for it to cool down, or be sure to use an oven mitt. That sucker will be HOT!) Place in an oven-safe casserole dish, like a Pyrex, cut sides down. Fill dish with water, about 1/2 inch deep. Put back in the oven for another 30–45 minutes. When your timer goes off, test to see if it's finished by scraping the insides of the squash to remove the strands. I like mine pretty soft, so I'll often put it back in for another 5–15 minutes. It depends on the squash and your oven and your preference.

• Dice, slice, and mince your veggies and cheese (tomatoes, mozzarella, onion, and garlic) while the squash is cooking. To chiffonade your basil, stack all the leaves lengthwise and use either a knife to slice or kitchen shears to cut into small slices. See a how-to here.

• Heat the butter in a small saucepan over medium heat. Once melted, add the onions and garlic. Sweat them a bit. Sometimes I like mine softer, sometimes more crunch. Again, your choice. Add the tomato sauce. Remove from heat once the sauce is hot.

• When the spaghetti squash is ready, scrapes all the "pasta" out into the casserole dish or a large bowl. Add the tomatoes and toss. The heat of the squash will lightly cook the tomatoes without making them too mushy. Toss in the sauce mixture, basil, and cheese. Add salt and pepper to-taste.

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This is great as-is for a vegetarian, gluten-free meal all on it's own. Or it would be really great as a base for some grilled chicken or protein of your choice. I was looking for something fresh for a summer meal, and a basil/mozzarella combo had been calling my name for weeks!

I was afraid Rob wasn't going to like it—spaghetti squash isn't his favorite, and he's often hungry after a meal with no meat. He's a Kansas boy. But he said, and I quote, "It's actually not bad!" The fresh flavor combination did it for him. And two hours later, he's still not hungry. :)

Peace,

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