Tag Archives: gratin

Spaghetti Squash Gratin

I’m not a squash fan. Or at least, I didn’t use to be. I’ve been gradually teaching myself to like it. The main trick I have learned in teaching myself to like new foods is to start by cooking it in a similar recipe as foods I do like.

I like spaghetti. With red sauce and cheese.  Now I’m not going to tell you that spaghetti squash tastes exactly like spaghetti. It doesn’t really. In fact, it doesn’t really taste like much at all. When you cook it with cheese and spaghetti sauce, mostly what you taste is cheese and spaghetti sauce. But the spaghetti squash has a nice texture (a little firmer than an actual noodle but not that different) and it’s a great conveyance for your favorite flavors.

The star of this dish – for me – was the ricotta topping. It’s hard to feel like you are missing out when you are eating something so rich and creamy. And here’s the kicker. My daughter ate SQUASH and it was all because she loved the ricotta stuff so much. I gave her a tiny spoonful of this dish (I have a rule that you have to at least try everything once) and told her if she hated it she could make herself a sandwich. Normally she hates squash, so this is how I was expecting it to go down. But instead she went back, loaded up her bowl and ate it all. It was some sort of squashy miracle.

One note on cooking the squash: some people cook it whole, some cut it in half. It will cook faster if you cut it in half (in about 45 minutes or so), but wrestling these things into submission when they are raw is not always easy. I found it much easier to break this sucker down when it was cooked and tender, so I left mine whole.

Spaghetti Squash Gratin

Spaghetti Squash Gratin

Spaghetti Squash Gratin
(from Recipe Sweet)

1 spaghetti squash

Sauce:
1 tbsp. olive oil
4 garlic cloves, thinly sliced or minced
1 tsp. salt
1/4 tsp. ground black pepper
1/8 tsp. crushed red pepper
1 (28 oz.) can whole tomatoes, drained and smooshed with your fingers or coarsely chopped (or you can use diced ones)
2 tsp. Italian seasoning
1/4 cup red wine
1/4 basil leaves, coarsely chopped or torn

Gratin Topping:
1 (15 oz.) container part-skim ricotta cheese
1/2 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese
1 tsp. dried oregano
1 tsp. dried thyme
1/2 tsp. salt

Preheat oven to 400˚. Poke your squash with a fork or knife a few times and place in the oven whole (I put mine on a pan just in case it leaked some juices). Roast for 1 – 1 1/2 hours until tender. Let it cool just a bit so you can handle it. (You can do this the day before or earlier in the day if time is an issue).

Slice it in half, scoop out the seeds in the middle (discard the seeds), and then using a fork, comb through the squash, creating “spaghetti” strands. Place these in the bottom of your baking dish. Drizzle with just a bit of olive oil and sprinkle with a pinch of salt. Toss a bit with your fingers to combine.

Looks like spaghetti!

Looks like spaghetti!

In a saucepan, heat 1 tbsp. of olive oil. Add garlic and crushed red pepper.  Cook and stir for a minute. Add tomatoes, salt & pepper, Italian seasoning and wine. Bring to a boil and then turn down to a simmer for 15 minutes. Pour over the top of the squash and spread out so all of the squash is covered.

Smother anything in this sauce and it will be good.

Smother anything in this sauce and it will be good.

In a small bowl, combine ricotta, parmesan and seasonings.  Carefully spread ricotta mixture over the top of the red sauce.

Ready to cook!

Ready to cook!

Bake at 400˚ for 40-45 minutes, until lightly browned. Dig in!

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Awesome Salad Meets So-So Casserole. Is It Love?

While I like to pretend I’m a creative genius when it comes to making up recipes, more often than not, they are happy accidents from playing with whatever happens to be in my fridge.  If it turns out good, I write it down.  If it’s just so-so, I forget it ever happened.  My goals for this recipe were to come up with something crunchy and colorful to brighten up a somewhat boring casserole.  For this dinner, the casserole was fine and dandy, but the real star of the plate was the side dish.  I wrote this one down.

Orange & Carrot Salad

Orange & Carrot Salad

1 1/2 cups baby carrots, quartered length-wise into matchsticks
1 large can (or two small ones) mandarin oranges, drained
2 tbsp. pomegranate infused red wine vinegar (or raspberry)
2 tsp. sugar
Pinch of salt
1 tbsp. olive oil
1/4 cup chopped fresh parsley

In a bowl, whisk together the vinegar, sugar, salt and oil until well blended.  Add carrots, orange and parsley and toss to coat.

Green & White Bean Gratin with Orange & Carrot Salad

Oh, and what was the underwhelming casserole, you ask?  Green & White Bean Gratin.  I found it in my Moosewood Cookbook and was intrigued.  Now, don’t get me wrong.  It tasted good.  I actually liked it quite a lot. But.  You heard that “but” coming, didn’t you?  This casserole had a definite “side dish” vibe.  Sometimes when I make vegetarian meals, I look at my plate and think, “where are the pork chops?”  I think part of the problem is adjusting my thinking a bit, and what I think of as a complete meal sometimes still includes meat.  But part of the problem is that this main dish needs help!

So it tasted good, and was filling.  But it’s still kind of lacking as a main dish.  I just couldn’t help but feel like something was missing.  And I’m not sure what.  Maybe it needed more crunch?  Maybe more veggie variety or color?  Spice?  Meat?  I’m not sure.  Any suggestions?  Or should this just be relegated to my “tasty side dish” recipe box?

Green & White Bean Gratin

Green & White Bean Gratin
(from Moosewood Restaurant Simple Suppers)

2 cups frozen (thawed) or fresh green beans
2 – 15 oz. cans white beans
4 garlic cloves, chopped
2 tsp. dried rosemary, sage or thyme
1/4 tsp. salt
pinch of black pepper
1 cup grated Cheddar, Fontina, or Gruyere cheese
1 cup bread crumbs
1 cup grated Parmesan cheese
2 tbsp. melted butter

Preheat oven to 375˚.  Butter an 8 inch square baking dish.  Spread green beans to cover the bottom of the baking dish.  In a blender, whirl one can of white beans, undrained, with the garlic, herbs, salt and pepper until smooth.  Pour over the green beans in the baking dish and sprinkle with the cheddar cheese.  Drain the second can of white beans and spread the beans on top.

In a small bowl combine the bread crumbs, Parmesan, and melted butter.  Sprinkle over the top of the gratin.  Bake covered for 25 minutes.  Uncover and bake until golden and bubbling, about 10 minutes more.

This made a good pairing with Orange & Carrot Salad.  But I still missed that pork chop.

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