It wasn’t my idea.
It was my sweet, beautiful sister-in-law’s idea. I was going to cook for my best friend on our next #privatechefmonday, and was thinking out loud about what to cook. My brother and SIL were visiting for Thanksgiving, and she said she had a great idea, a recipe from a cookbook I’d given them a year earlier.
She doesn’t consider herself much of a cook (and she would be wrong! One of these days I will post her 3-ingredient salmon that I make every Christmas Day). She said she has “her recipes” and doesn’t want my gourmet-cook-brother “messing” with them. She said she knew we’d love it, and of course, she was right.
But, still, with apologies to her thoughtfulness, I did sort of mess with it. I’m sure she won’t mind.
The cookbook is Collards & Carbonara, and the recipe is a simple roasted spaghetti squash stuffed with marinara and buffalo milk mozzarella.
I substituted those little mozzarella balls labeled “ciliegine,” meaning cherry, which are not buffalo milk mozzarella, but made with cow’s milk instead, and I added sautéed shittake mushrooms.
About the marinara… the cookbook has a recipe, but if you have your favorite (even if it’s jarred), use that. I did make a quick version while the squash was roasting. I just put a 28-ounce can of San Marzano-style plum tomatoes in a sauce pan with lots of onions and garlic and cooked until the squash was done. Then I added fresh herbs, salt and pepper, and a splash of red wine vinegar, and then I buzzed it with a hand-held stick blender. Easy peasy.
Hope you enjoy this vegetarian — and Meatless Monday and Private Chef Monday — friendly recipe.
And thanks, sweet Tish, you cook far better than you give yourself credit for and we are all grateful for you.
- 2 whole spaghetti squashes, about 3 to 3½ pounds each
- ½ cup + 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
- 5 sprigs of thyme
- Sea salt
- Freshly ground black pepper
- 8 ounces sliced shiitake (or cremini) mushrooms
- 1 small shallot, minced
- 4 small cloves garlic, minced
- 2 cups marinara sauce (homemade or jarred)
- 8 ounces fresh mozzarella, torn into bite-size pieces
- ½ cup grated Parmesan
- 4 tablespoons chopped basil
- Heat oven to 400 degrees F.
- Cut squashes in half lengthwise and scoop out seeds, and place on a lined baking sheet, cut side up. Brush each cavity generously with 2 tablespoons of extra virgin olive oil. Strip the leaves of a thyme sprig into each squash and sprinkle with salt and pepper.
- Place in the oven and roast until almost fork tender, about 25 minutes. Meanwhile, heat marinara sauce until hot in a small saucepan, and sauté the mushrooms.
- To sauté mushrooms, heat remaining 2 tablespoons of extra virgin olive oil in a skillet over medium heat. Stir in the sliced mushrooms and shallots and cook until the mushrooms begin to wilt, about 3 to 4 minutes. Stir in the garlic and the leaves of the remaining thyme sprig and cook, stirring frequently, until mushrooms are tender, about 3 to 4 minutes more. Remove from heat, season with salt and pepper, and keep warm.
- Remove squash from oven and fill each squash with about ½ cup of heated marinara. Evenly divide the mozzarella between the squashes. Divide the sautéed mushrooms between each squash. Return to the oven and bake until hot and bubbly, and mozzarella has melted, about 10 to 15 minutes.
- Remove from oven and top with grated Parmesan and chopped basil.