I have a good friend who told me this week that she and her boyfriend have decided to eat vegetarian 2 or 3 times a week. I think that is a great idea! I've been inching that way for awhile, but have been afraid that my carnivorous better half will threaten all-out rebellion unless presented with a large portion of protein at each meal. Guess what? He surprised me. I've been kind of sneaking in some vegetarian meals and he hasn't complained at all. He notices, but he's enjoyed what I've made. Wednesday night I scored a double-play...no meat and no starch! Now, I didn't say no cheese...we're not getting crazy in the River Market.
It all started with a baby spaghetti squash I picked up two weeks ago in the City Market. I also have a bigger version, waiting for a bigger presentation, but I was making dinner for two tonight...not ten. When I cut the squash in two I couldn't help but think, "hmmm...probably 34B's, I bet the big squash is more like 40DDs," laughing to myself thinking how funny I am.
I also raided the kitchen of every bit of produce to create a veggie-loaded tomato sauce and made some sort of spaghetti squash meets lasagna-ish casserole. And yes, I am embarrassed that I've posted now 1 - 2 - 3 "hot-dish" recipes in a row. I usually don't make casseroles this often, but it has been too hot to grill and I'm trying to find as many new ways to use fresh produce as possible.
I made up this recipe so please bear with my explanation below.
Preheat oven to 350.
Cut 1 small spaghetti squash in half and place seeds down in a small baking dish with enough water to cover about 1/4 inch of the squash. (You can also use a little butter, if you plan to toss the squash with a light sauce instead of baking it.) Cook for 30 - 40 minutes until soft in the middle. Let cool a bit, scrape out seeds with spoon then using a fork, scrape out the squash into thin spaghetti-like strands. (I didn't do this, but I recommend straining the squash for a few minutes before using it in the casserole.)
2 tablespoons olive oil
2 large cloves of garlic minced
1/2 green bell pepper
1/2 orange bell pepper
1/2 red or yellow onion
8 - 10 mushrooms sliced
3 large tomatoes cored and chopped
1/2 cup slivered Italian parsley
1/2 cup slivered fresh basil
salt and pepper to taste
1/3 pound of thinly sliced provolone
1/4 cup shredded Parmesan
Add olive oil to bottom of saute pan over medium heat. Add garlic, onion and peppers, saute for about 3 minutes tossing regularly to coat with olive oil. Add mushrooms and continue to cook for about 3 minutes. Add tomatoes, salt and pepper to pan and cook for another 3 - 5 minutes to break down tomatoes. Add fresh herbs and cover saute pan for about 10 minutes, cooking over low heat.
Clean the small baking dish used for the squash and lightly oil. (I always use spray olive oil.) Place the shredded squash in the bottom of the baking dish and add 1 cup of the tomato sauce, draining off the juice. Lightly mix the squash and sauce to coat the strands. Layer 4 slices of provolone over the squash mixture and sprinkle with 1/2 the Parmesan. Add the remaining sauce, straining the juice, using mostly vegetables. Layer the remaining provolone cheese and Parmesan over the top.
Cook for 25 minutes at 350 or until brown and bubbly. EAT!