"No matter how terrified you may be, own your fear and take that leap anyway because whether you land on your feet or on your butt, the journey is well worth it."
-- Laurie Laliberte
"If your dreams do not scare you, they are not big enough."
-- Ellen Johnson Sirleaf
"Life shrinks or expands in proportion to one's courage."
-- Anais Nin

Sunday, October 13, 2013

WHAT Kind of Pie?

Say the words, "spaghetti pie" in Greater Boston, especially the North Suburban area, and people will grab their forks and follow you like zombies. But utter those same words here in the Southwest and you're met with blank stares. Your friends might begin planning an intervention, thinking you've lost your mind, and the neighbors will lock their doors and close their curtains if they see you walking up their driveways.

But spaghetti pie is one of my favorite dishes and my BBF (Best Boston Friend) was the one who taught me how to make it. Hers was the best!

These days, as I avoid pasta and keep gluten in my diet to a minimum, I find myself missing this favorite like you can't believe. So last week, when spaghetti squash was on sale, I snagged a couple and decided to experiment.

The verdict? I believe "no leftovers" pretty much sums it up.

Start by slicing your spaghetti squash in half, lengthwise. Scrape out the seeds and loose pulp and set aside if you want to roast the seeds later. Lay the squash cut side down on a lined baking sheet. Roast it in a 375 degree (f) oven for about 30 to 40 minutes. Err on the side of it being underdone rather than fully cooked. Allow it to cool for a bit until you can handle it, then scrape out the guts with a fork. (Resist the temptation to eat the squash right out of the shell -- it's yummy!)

If that's not enough instruction for you, there are video tutorials all over youtube to teach you how to get the spaghetti out of spaghetti squash. You can also do it in the microwave, but I prefer the oven. It develops the flavor better.

Now you can use the "spaghetti" as the base for whatever recipe you choose. For this recipe, let it sit in a strainer for a few minutes to get rid of the excess moisture.

Not Quite Spaghetti Pie

1 lb lean ground beef
1 med onion, chopped
1/2 t oregano
1/2 t basil
1/4 t sage (crushed or rubbed, not ground*)
1/2 t garlic powder
salt to taste
24 oz tomato sauce

2 large eggs, lightly beaten
1 c ricotta cheese
1/2 c grated or shredded parmesan cheese (or romano, or asiago, or a blend of the three)
2 c shredded mozzarella cheese, divided in half
1/2 t Italian seasoning
salt and pepper to taste

1 (3-4 lb) spaghetti squash, prepared as above

Brown meat and onions in a large frypan until meat is cooked through
Drain and return to pan
Add herbs and salt and allow to heat until you can smell the herbs
Pour in tomato sauce and bring to boil
Reduce heat and simmer for about five to ten minutes

Combine second group of ingredients in a large bowl, holding aside a cup of mozzarella
Fold in "spaghetti" until it's coated somewhat evenly
Lightly grease a 9x12" or 9x13" baking dish with olive oil
Spread spaghetti squash mixture evenly on bottom of pan
Add meat and sauce
Top with remaining cup of mozzarella

Bake in a 375 oven for about 25 minutes, until cheese is melted and sauce is bubbly
Allow to stand for about ten minutes before serving

*I have nothing against ground sage, but it's more potent than the rubbed sage I usually use, so cut the amount at least by half.

I would say this serves eight, but everyone will come back for seconds, so if there's any question, double the recipe. Doubling works in a giant lasagna pan, but the heating time at the end will take longer. You'll also want to cover it so your cheese doesn't get too browned on top.

Generally, when I double a recipe like this, I prepare it in two of those disposable Gladware storage/bakeware containers so I can just stick one in the freezer. You can freeze it before you heat it in the oven, then just remove it from the freezer and heat it at 375 until it's hot, but that will take at least an hour and you want to cover it with aluminum foil so your cheese doesn't burn.

What to do with the leftovers? What leftovers?

Happy Cooking!

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