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Dash of Grace: A great pasta substitute

Try spaghetti squash with a variety of sauces for a fun, unique dish

Published: Wednesday, Dec. 5, 2012 1:15 a.m. CDT • Updated: Wednesday, Dec. 5, 2012 1:52 p.m. CDT

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Today we are going to have some fun with spaghetti squash. This is a vegetable that is fun to cook, serve and eat. A winter squash, it’s name comes from that fact it looks like strands of spaghetti when it is cooked, peeled, and shredded with a fork. It neither tastes nor smells like spaghetti, but has a mild taste that is wonderful with sauces you would normally eat over pasta, such as tomato or Alfredo sauce.

Technically, this dish is not a lasagna, since there is no pasta, but it is layered just like lasagna, in individually sized oven-safe casseroles, which are perfect for portion control, or if you don’t have personal-sized casseroles, an 8-by-8-inch baking dish will do.

In four individual 5-by-7-inch oven-safe baking dishes, ladle ¼ cup marinara sauce on the bottom of each dish. Top each with ¾ cup of cooked spaghetti squash and spread evenly. Top each with ¼ cup ricotta cheese.

Sprinkle 1 teaspoon of grated Parmesan cheese and 4 ounces mozzarella over the top. Add the remaining sauce, Parmesan, and mozzarella cheese.  

Bake at 375 degrees for 15 minutes, then check, and add another 5 minutes, until the cheeses are getting a little brown and puffy. If you are baking this in one dish, it may take a little longer.

In four individual 5-by-7-inch oven-safe baking dishes, ladle ¼ cup quick marinara sauce on the bottom of each dish. Top each with ¾ cup of cooked spaghetti squash and spread evenly out. Top each with ¼ cup ricotta.

Sprinkle 1 teaspoon of grated Parmesan cheese and 4 ounces mozzarella over the top. Add the remaining sauce, Parmesan, and mozzarella cheese.  

You can do this the day before and store the squash in the refrigerator, or you can make it in the microwave, if you need it in a hurry. Once cooked, simply use a fork to separate the strands. 

I have made eggplant lasagna and squash lasagna, and that’s how this recipe came about – sort of. My daughter and I were talking about the eggplant lasagna that I had made when I was a camper at Timber Lake Campgrounds. Our neighbors were leaving, moving back to California, and we were sending them off with a bang-up potluck. 

The friends who were leaving the camp were vegetarian, thus the vegetable lasagna. 

The man in the camper next to me was eyeing that lasagna with true love, first in line for the lasagna. As soon as grace was said, he headed straight to the food, specifically the eggplant, loaded up a huge helping and took a big bite. The look on his face was priceless, indescribable. It was kind of sad, though. That man had his heart set on lasagna with meat. I don’t know what he did with his big plate of lasagna, but I am pretty sure he did not go back for seconds.

Christmas tortellini and spinach soup

Total time: 25 minutes

2 cans (14 ½ ounces each) vegetable broth

1 package (9 ounces) refrigerated cheese tortellini or tortellini of your choice

1 can (15 ounces) white kidney or cannellini beans, rinsed and drained

1 can (14 ½ ounces) Italian diced tomatoes, not drained

¼ teaspoon salt

1/8 teaspoon pepper

3 cups fresh baby spinach

3 tablespoons minced fresh basil

¼ cup shredded Asiago cheese

In a large saucepan, bring broth to a boil. Add tortellini; reduce heat. Simmer, uncovered, for 5 minutes. Stir in the beans, tomatoes, salt and pepper; return to a simmer. Cook 4 or 5 minutes longer or until tortellini are tender.

Stir in spinach and basil; cook until spinach is wilted.

--Taste of Home 2012

Spaghetti squash lasagna

Servings: 4

Calories: 291 

2 cups marinara sauce

3 cups cooked roasted spaghetti squash

1 cup part-skim ricotta cheese

8 teaspoons Parmesan cheese

8 ounces part-skim shredded mozzarella 

Preheat oven to 375 degrees.

First, roast the squash. I use the microwave, but you could use a regular oven, set on about 350 degrees. Take a knife and make about 4 slashes in the squash so they cook better. Cook the squash until it is tender and the knife goes in easily. You can feel when it is getting tender.

Let the squash cool a bit, but not too cool. Cut the squash open, lengthwise end to end. It is important that you cut the long way so the “spaghetti” stays cut as much as possible. 

Scrape the pulp inside the halves with a fork and it will start to make “spaghetti.”

You can then complete the lasagna. 

In four individual 5-by-7-inch oven-safe baking dishes, ladle 1/4 cup quick marinara sauce on the bottom of each dish. Top each with 3/4 cup of cooked spaghetti squash and spread out evenly. Top each with 1/4 cup ricotta.

Sprinkle 1 teaspoon of grated Parmesan cheese and 4 ounces mozzarella on each. Add the remaining sauce, Parmesan, and mozzarella cheese.

Buffalo hot dip

Heat chicken and hot sauce in a skillet over medium heat, until heated through. Stir in cream cheese and ranch dressing. Cook, stirring until well-blended and warm. Mix in half of the shredded cheese, and transfer the mixture to a slow cooker. Sprinkle the remaining cheese over the top, cover, and cook on low setting until hot and bubbly. Serve with celery sticks and crackers.

Wickedly rich pie

4 ounces semi-sweet chocolate 

1/2 cup butter or margarine

1 can (13 ounces) evaporated milk

1 1/3 cups coconut

3 eggs, slightly beaten

1/2 cup sugar

1 unbaked 9-inch pie shell

Whipped cream for garnish

Melt chocolate and butter over low heat in a medium saucepan. Add milk, coconut, eggs and sugar; stir until well- blended. Pour into pie shell. Bake at 400 degrees for 30 minutes; it will begin to crack, like a pecan pie. Cool. Store in refrigerator.

1 package (4 ounces) German sweet chocolate may be substituted if you prefer.

Tip of the week:

Au jus means served in its own juices.

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