Week 12 – Your First Foods

I’m back!  It’s been awhile since I’ve posted; thanks again to Danielle for covering for me while I was in New York!

For this week’s challenge, I made Spaghetti Squash Lasagna, a twist on one of my first favorite foods, lasagna.

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This week’s theme led to an interesting conversation with my Mom about my childhood favorite foods.  I took notes:

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Clearly childhood-me had quite the discerning palate (kidding!).  Fun anecdote: apparently I liked Lima beans quite a lot, so much so, that I ate everyone else’s Lima beans when we had vegetable medley with dinner.  I have definitely not maintained my bizarre love of this waxy bean.

The first food I remember absolutely loving, and cooking with my Mom, was macaroni and cheese (specifically Kraft).  While it’s still one of my favorite foods, it’s not the most healthy option (not a lot on that list is) and doesn’t quite fit the ‘challenge’ portion either because I’ve made it quite a few times.

But I do remember really loving lasagna in many  forms. (Another fun anecdote:  my first thought when I decided on lasagna was Skinny Taste’s Spinach Lasagna Roll-ups.  But, the summer we studied for the bar exam, Lisa and I made them so many times that I can’t bring myself to cook them without having awful memories.)

So since it’s fall (aka gourd season), and a pretty healthy option, I thought I’d give this recipe for  Spaghetti Squash Lasagna a try.

First thing – if you’ve never made spaghetti squash before, it’s pretty fun. You slice it open, remove the seeds, bake it, and shred the inside to create a mock spaghetti noodle.  I’d found an interesting way to prepare the spaghetti squash that that I’d been wanting to try. Eat Within Your Means: How to Cook Spaghetti Squash.

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I picked out a nice-looking spaghetti squash.

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I sliced the spaghetti squash into rings, and cut the seeds and guts out of the center.

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I also salted both sides of the rings to bring out the moisture.  There is a lot of moisture/water inside the squash, and the noodles will be very watery after they’re baked.  All that moisture can make your end-result pretty runny (which is gross).  You would do the same thing with eggplant (for eggplant parmesan) and zucchini.  I let the salted rings sit for a few minutes and soaked up the moisture with some paper towels, then put the rings on a baking sheet.

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I popped the rings in the oven for 40 minutes, let them cool a bit, and shredded them with a fork.

Slicing the squash into rings like this makes the strands longer and closer to spaghetti noodles.  If you slice it in half from stem to base, the spaghetti strands will be much shorter.  I’ve tried both ways.  This one works well because getting rid of the seeds and other ‘guts’ was super easy.

I prepared the spaghetti squash the night before and kept the shredded spaghetti squash in the fridge over night.

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To make the lasagna I layered some marinara sauce and the spaghetti squash.

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Then I added more layers with some browned spicy Italian turkey sausage, mozzarella cheese, ricotta cheese, more sauce, and the rest of the mozzarella.

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Then into the oven again until the cheese was bubbly, about 15 minutes.  The final result turned out very filling and pretty delicious.

What I’d do differently:

  • During prep I would let the salted spaghetti squash rings sit even longer than I originally did.  (The recipe says 20 minutes, I got impatient and only did about 5 minutes.) The lasagna ended up pretty runny from all the moisture that was still in the spaghetti squash.
  • Get a larger squash – The recipe wasn’t super clear on size, and since I was using an 8×8 baking dish I thought a smaller size would be better. The ratio of spaghetti squash to meat, cheese, and sauce was a little off.
  • Maybe get my knives sharpened.  Getting through the sides of the squash was pretty tough.
  • Another great way to do this is to bake everything in the hull of the spaghetti squash.  There are a ton of good recipes for Spaghetti Squash Lasagna Boats.

It’s not quite the same as lasagna with lasagna noodles, but the delicious components are there, and the squash has just enough flavor and texture to be delicious, without being too squash-y.  Don’t be intimidated by the spaghetti squash either, it’s very easy to prepare.

I missed posting so much, I’ll be back again next week for the Pie challenge, just in time for Thanksgiving!

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3 thoughts on “Week 12 – Your First Foods

  1. I’ve never tried cooking spaghetti squash in rings…It’s good to know that you like making it that way better! I’m also really interested in these spaghetti squash lasagna boats…that looks pretty delicious.

    Like

  2. Pingback: Week 48 – Reinvented Classics | Lisa and Janine Try to Cook

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