squash and ricotta bake

Wow! This was a great Sunday dinner recipe.  It took a little more time because it required roasting and then a quick return to the oven to melt a cheesy topping.  The little bit of extra time was totally worth it.  I would’ve never imagined that roasted squash paired so well with basil, tomatoes, and mozzarella.  This was truly fantastic!

hope this makes your belly smile…

Adapted from Jamie Oliver

1 large butternut squash, peeled, deseeded, and chopped into bite-size cubes
(tip: microwave the squash whole for 1 minute to make for easier peeling)
3 T. olive oil (divided into 1 T, 2 T)
1 bunch of fresh organic basil, (stem finely sliced, leaves roughly chopped)
2 cloves of garlic, minced
2 can organic diced tomatoes
Pinch sea salt
1 lb. 100% whole wheat penne pasta
freshly ground black pepper
3 T. organic, whole milk ricotta cheese
3 c. organic vegetable stock
4 oz. mini mozzarella balls (ciliegine)
1 handful Parmesan cheese, freshly grated (ideally)

Directions: Preheat the oven to 400 degrees (bake, not convection).  Line a baking sheet with parchment paper or foil.  Toss butternut squash cubes with 1 tablespoon olive oil and several pinches of sea salt.  Spread in a single layer on the baking sheet and roast for 15 minutes.

In the meantime, heat a large skillet to medium heat.  Add the olive oil and basil stems and garlic.  Once the garlic becomes fragrant (about a minute), add the diced tomatoes. Bring to a boil and then reduce to a simmer.  Stir in the squash after roasting and some freshly ground black pepper.

While the sauce is simmering, bring a pot of salted water to a boil.  Add the pasta.  Undercook the pasta by several minutes before draining (do NOT rinse).  Add the pasta to a slightly oiled baking dish.

To the sauce, stir in the chopped basil leaves and vegetable broth.  Again, bring it to a boil and then reduce it to a simmer.  Stir in the ricotta cheese.  Pour the sauce atop the pasta in the baking dish and gently stir.  Place the mini mozzarella balls in and around the pasta – using your fingers to push it into nooks and crannies.  Bake at 400 degrees for about 15 minutes or until the mozzarella has melted.  Plate and serve with some freshly grated parmesan cheese and a final drizzle of olive oil.


stuffed acorn squash with organic greens

Here’s another impressive option for entertaining – guests eat from individual squash bowls.  The organic greens make a perfect side. The original recipe calls for ground turkey. This time, I made it with bacon. Outcome: great success!

hope this makes your belly smile…

Adapted from Developing a Pattern

2 to 3 acorn squash, halved by cutting lengthwise through the stem, seeded and stringy fleshy stuff removed (Tip: microwave for 1 minute prior to slicing)

1 T. olive oil, separated into 1/4 teaspoons
Several pinches of sea salt/freshly ground black pepper
1 c. uncooked quinoa (alternative: farro, barley, cous cous, etc.)
4 slices preservative free bacon, chopped
1 T. olive oil
1 large organic carrot, finely diced
1 organic bell pepper, finely diced (red, yellow, or orange peppers = a sweeter flavor)
1 small onion, finely diced
1 stalk organic celery, finely diced
1/4 t. each sea salt
1/4 t. black pepper, freshly ground
2 garlic cloves, minced
1/2 t. chopped fresh thyme (1/4 t. if using dried)
1/4 c. feta cheese
1/2 c. mild organic white cheese (ideas: Gouda, Fontina, Mozzarella)

Directions: Preheat oven to 425 degrees.  Add olive to each squash half.  Rub around to coat the flesh.  Generously season the flesh with sea salt and pepper.  Roast in the oven on a baking sheet, open side up, until softened and slightly brown (about 35-45 minutes).

In the meantime, cook the quinoa according to package directions.  I like to substitute water with chicken or veggie stock, but that’s up to you.

Now that the quinoa is doing it’s thing, heat a large skillet to medium heat.  Add the olive oil to coat the pan.  Add the bacon and cook until it begins to render some fat (about five minutes).  Reduce the heat to near medium.  Add the carrots, bell pepper, onion, celery, and 1/4 teaspoon each sea salt/pepper.  Saute until the veggies have softened (about 5 minutes).  Add the garlic and thyme and cook until the garlic is fragrant (about a minute).  Remove from the heat and stir in the feta and cooked quinoa.

Remove the stuff the squash from the oven. Set the oven to broil  Stuff the quash with the quinoa mixture (really pack it in good).  Sprinkle the cheese atop.  Broil for 1-2 minutes to melt the cheese and brown it ever so slightly.

Organic Greens
Salad Ingredients
Organic greens of your choice
¼ c. chopped walnuts
1/2 red onion, sliced
¼ c. shredded Parmesan cheese

Dressing Ingredients
3 T. white wine vinegar
2 T. extra-virgin olive oil
1 T. Dijon mustard
salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste

Directions: Add dressing ingredients to a glass jar and shake vigorously.

broccoli and cheese baked spaghetti squash

“Mom, you know I don’t like spaghetti squash!” “Oh wait, maybe I do like it with broccoli and cheese.”  You’ll feel the same way, trust me.

hope this makes your belly smile…

Adapted from Eating Well

1 2 1/2- to 3-pound spaghetti squash, halved lengthwise and seeded
1 T. extra-virgin olive oil
1 bunch organic broccoli, chopped to retain the florets
4 cloves garlic, minced
1/8 to 1/4 t. red pepper flakes (optional)
2 T. water
1 c. shredded organic mozzarella cheese, divided (alternative Gouda)
1/4 c. shredded Parmesan cheese, divided
3/4 t. Italian seasoning (alternative: Trader Joe’s 21 Seasoning Salute)
1/2 t. sea salt
1/4 t. freshly ground pepper

Directions: Microwave the whole spaghetti squash for 2 minutes. Slice lengthwise to create to long boats.  Place face down on a microwave safe container with a small lip.  Add 1 tablespoon of water to the plate and cover with plastic wrap.  Cook for 12 to 15 minutes or until the flesh is very soft when pushed.

In the meantime, add olive oil to a skillet warmed to nearly medium heat.  Add the red pepper flakes, garlic, and broccoli florets.  Cook for 2 minutes, stirring frequently.  Increase the temperature to medium add 2 tablespoons of water.  Put a lid (or inverted plate) on the skillet to allow the broccoli to steam until soften slightly (3 to 5 minutes).

Remove the broccoli from the heat and place in a mixing bowl.  Use a fork to scrape the spaghetti squash in the bowl with the broccoli.  Stir in the cheeses, Italian seasoning, and sea salt/pepper.  Evenly divide the mixture among the spaghetti squash ‘boats.’  Broil on the lowest oven rack until the cheese is bubbly and browning ever so slightly.

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