Spaghetti Squash Casserole

20170418_205943

20170418_205414

I first tried this dish at True Food Kitchen and fell in love with the light textures and fresh flavors of this dish. After recently switching to a plant based diet, I was thrilled when the restaurant allowed me to substitute their house made dairy free almond ricotta instead of a traditional mozzarella topped version . I will admit, I rarely eat spaghetti squash, and had never even cooked it before. I will be cooking spaghetti squash a lot more now that I have been inspired with this fabulous, light tasting casserole which is so filling and just bursting full of texture and flavor.

One of the things I love about this recipe is the make ahead factor. The sauce is not even cooked until final assembly.  All of the components, like the roasted spaghetti squash, spiralized/julienned zucchini, caramelized onions, sauce, and even the almond ricotta (for a non dairy version-almonds must be soaked a day ahead-recipe link below), may be made and prepped ahead and stored separately until final assembly.  The assembly of the dish takes just minutes to warm in a skillet and then the casserole may be popped in the oven just to melt or warm the cheese.

Spaghetti Squash Casserole Recipe:

Time: about 1 1/2 hours total not including the overnight soak for almond ricotta

Serves 6 generous portions – as pictured above this is a half a recipe baked in an 8 inch by 10.5 inch by 2 inch deep dish, I saved the remaining half of the cooked or prepped ingredients to make another smaller casserole a few nights later. If making the full casserole recipe all at once, use a 9×13 casserole dish when ready to bake.

Ingredients

For the Sauce:

  • 1 28 oz. can Blanco or other brand of Organic Crushed Tomatoes
  • 1-2 cloves of Garlic, peeled with brown root end cut off of the clove
  • 1/2 tsp. Dried Oregano or 1 tsp. Fresh Oregano
  • Salt and Pepper to taste
  • 1-Tbls. Olive Oil (omit if oil-free version is desired-will still taste great)

For the Squash:

  • 1 Spaghetti Squash around 4-5 pounds, split in half lengthwise and seeded (roast the seeds separately with olive oil and salt for a nice snack)
  • 2 Zucchini Julienned or spiralized (I used a Kitchen Aid spiralizer-thin blade)
  • 2-3 Tbls. of Fresh Parsley, or Basil, or Thyme for garnish (or use a combination of and or all, dried or fresh)
  • 1 Onion Caramelized (Dice one medium to large sized yellow onion and sauté in a pan with 1-2 Tbls. of oil, or water for oil-free version, on medium-low heat for 30 minutes or until brown and soft-can add a few teaspoons to taste of honey, maple syrup or brown sugar to speed up the process). I ran out of olive oil so I used the liquid that remained on my sheet pan after roasting the spaghetti squash.
  • 2 Tbls of Olive oil

Instructions:

  1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees F. Cut the spaghetti squash in half lengthwise and scoop out the seeds and fibers attached to the seeds. Save the seeds to roast for a delicious snack.  If using oil, rub a small amount of olive oil just to lightly coat the inside of the spaghetti squash halves and sprinkle salt and pepper on the inside as well. For an oil free version omit the oil, it will be fine.  Lay the two halves cut side facing down on a sheet pan lined with parchment for easy clean up.  Roast until al dente-approximately 40 minutes. You do not want to overcook. Use a spoon or fork to scoop out the spaghetti squash strands once slightly cooled. The squash may be roasted and cooked a day ahead and refrigerated until needed.
  2. While the spaghetti sauce is roasting, caramelize the chopped onions in a skillet with a tablespoon of olive oil or for an oil free version water or vegetable broth so the onions do not stick. If you have liquid left over from the roasting of the spaghetti squash, you can use that as well. Add sweetener of choice to help with the browning and to add some sweetness.  This should take about 30 minutes or so on medium low heat. This can be made a day ahead.
  3. Blend all sauce ingredients in blender until almost pureed with some slight texture to the tomato. This can be refrigerated and made a day ahead if necessary. Keep the sauce uncooked, it will be cooked further later.
  4. Spiralize or Julienne the Zucchini
  5. Heat a large sauté pan with 2 Tablespoons of oil or water. You can even use any liquid that was on the sheet pan after roasting the squash.  Add the cooked and separated spaghetti squash strands which were scooped out of the skin, julienned zucchini, tomato sauce and caramelized onions till combined and just heated through.  Place mixture in a casserole dish and top with mozzarella cheese or almond ricotta if desired.  Please see my blog or the link below for the almond ricotta recipe:   https://wordpress.com/posts/dawnielovestocook.wordpress.com
  6. Place casserole dish uncovered in a 400 F degrees oven until mozzarella cheese is melted and has a slight color or almond ricotta is heated and just warmed through. Once the cheese is melted and browned (mozzarella) or warned through ( almond ricotta), finish the dish with some chopped fresh herbs such as parsley, basil , thyme or a combination of one or all three. If you do not have fresh herbs used dried.

Enjoy!  Makes great leftovers as well!