Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Casseruola of Spaghetti Squash with Salsa Pomodoro, Onions, Peperoni and Formaggi

A tasty Italian style spaghetti squash recipe!

     Honestly, I thought that it might be tacky to make a spaghetti squash recipe, just like how a basic spaghetti pasta recipe can be made.  I thought that the internet and cookbooks would have plenty of recipes that made use of this idea.  I was wrong!  As it turns out, there are relatively few recipes for Italian style spaghetti squash creations.  I cannot figure out why.  The spaghetti squash and spaghetti connection is simple. 
     Choosing to make this recipe al forno (baked), instead of sauteed seemed to be the best choice.  Making this al forno recipe in the style of a casseruola brings this Italian spaghetti squash recipe into the realm of the comfort food zone.  I kept the flavors of this recipe comfortable and familiar.  This recipe has no meats, so it is a nice entree for those who allow dairy products in their vegetarian diet. 

     Salsa di Pomodoro Recipe:  
     This recipe makes about 4 or 5 portions of sauce!
     Heat a pot over medium/medium low heat.
     Add about 5 to 6 ounces of olive oil.  (The olive oil proportion should be about 1/10 of the volume of the tomatoes.) 
     Add 8 cloves of finely chopped garlic.
     Add 1 handful of finely minced onion.
     Saute till the onions turn clear in color, but do not let the onions brown.
     Add 1 pinch of crushed dried red pepper.
     Add a 28 ounce can of good quality imported Italian crushed plum tomatoes.
     Place a 28 ounce can of imported whole Italian plum tomatoes or San Marzano tomatoes that are packed in their own juices into a mixing bowl.  
     Hand squeeze and crush the tomatoes, till no big chunks remain.
     Add the hand squeezed tomatoes and juices to the pot.  
     Add 4 pinches of oregano.
     Add sea salt and ground black pepper.
     Add 1/4 cup of finely chopped fresh basil.
     Add 2 tablespoons of minced Italian parsley.  
     Add 1 cup of Italian dry red wine.  
     Heat the sauce and stir, till it starts to gently boil.
     Reduce the temperature to low heat.
     Leave the pot uncovered.  (Never cover a pot of Italian tomato sauce with a lid, or the sauce will become stewed tomatoes!)  
     Slowly simmer the sauce and stir the sauce once every 5-7 minutes for 4 hours.  
     The sauce should be simmering gently and there should be very little bubbling on the surface.  Scrape the sides of the inside of the pot back into the sauce too.  That stuff is full of flavor!  
     After 4 hours, the flavors will meld and the tomato sauce will a medium thin tomato sauce consistency.  The excess tomato juices should be reduced into the sauce at this point.  The olive oil should be well combined with the tomatoes, because the sauce was stirred often.
     Keep the sauce warm over very low heat or reheat the sauce to order.

     Spaghetti Squash:
     The size of a spaghetti squash can affect the baking time.  For the most part, a baking time of 20 to 25 minutes is sufficient for any spaghetti squash that is smaller than a football or rugby ball.  Any size larger and 5 or 10 minutes of extra baking time may be needed.
     Pierce two small holes on 1 whole spaghetti squash with a metal skewer to create steam vents. 
     Place the whole spaghetti squash on a rack in a 350 degree oven.
     Bake for 20 to 25 minutes, till the spaghetti squash shell feels piping hot when quickly touched.
     Remove the spaghetti squash from the oven and let it cool for 5 minutes.
     Cut the spaghetti squash in half across the middle.  
     Note:  Do not cut spaghetti squash end to end, or the spaghetti strands will be cut into short pieces!  Long strands of al dente spaghetti squash is the goal.
     Allow the spaghetti squash to cool to room temperature.
     Use a spoon to scoop out the small amount of seeds and loose pulp from the middle of the squash.
     Starting from the center layer, gently use a fork to loosen, pry and pull the long spaghetti strands of squash marrow out of the spaghetti squash.
     The spaghetti squash meat can now be portioned.  The spaghetti squash can refrigerated for in a sealed container for a few days for later use. 

     Casseruola of Spaghetti Squash with Salsa Pomodoro, Onions, Peperoni and Formaggi:
     Spread 3 ounces of the salsa pomodoro on a shallow 6" wide casserole dish.
     Mound a portion of spaghetti squash strands over the tomato sauce.  (About 1 1/2 to 2 cups.)
     Pour 4 ounces of the salsa pomodoro over the center of the mound of spaghetti squash.
     Sprinkle 1 small handful of grated mozzarella cheese over the spaghetti squash.
     Sprinkle 1 tablespoon of grated romano cheese over the spaghetti squash.
     Sprinkle 1 pinch of oregano over the cheese.
     Sprinkle 1 small handful of thin sliced onion over the casserole.
     Sprinkle 1 small handful of thin strips of sweet red bell pepper over the casserole.
     Sprinkle a small amount of grated mozzarella over the casserole.
     Drizzle 1 tablespoon of olive oil over the casserole.
     Bake the casserole in a 350 degree oven, till the cheese melts and the casserole becomes hot.  When a few light golden brown highlights appear, then the casserole is ready.
     Place the casserole on a serving dish.
     Sprinkle 2 to 3 pinches of minced Italian parsley over the casserole.
     Garnish with an Italian parsley sprig.

     This is not your average tasting winter squash recipe!  Italian flavors can put a smile on any face.  Even when the spaghetti turns out to be spaghetti squash!  Yum!  Ciao Baby!  ...  Shawna 

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