When the lunch lady asks you for a recipe, you know you might have a winner.
Because of his food allergies, Daniel takes his lunch every day. Often it is leftovers from the night before, especially if it was something that he ate well. The lunch lady heats it up for him, and he eats with his classmates. No big deal, he just has a different meal. The cook is gone when I pick Daniel up, so she sometimes comments on the previous day's meal the next day.
The day after Daniel brought this dish, she said it looked and smelled really good. She was tempted to try a bite, but that wouldn't be right. We still had some leftover, and Daniel really liked it, so I sent it again the next day, and I sent a little bit for her to sample. The next day, she asked me for the recipe.
Like most of my recipes, it's really pretty simple. As I have reminded my budding chefs, often the simplest things are the best. Or, as culinary grand dame Julia Child put it, "You don't have to cook fancy or complicated masterpieces -
just good food from fresh ingredients."
This recipe came from a gift of cooked spaghetti squash. A gallon bag of it. That's a lot of spaghetti squash.
The first two meals of the week were tomato-based, and they were, sadly, flops. It happens. We move on. I was ready for something less tomatoey. No marinara on spaghetti squash. It would have taken a lot of marinara anyway.
I picked up a package of Italian sausage on the way home, and I just happened to have a carton of ricotta cheese in the fridge. As you can see, this was largely improvisational, which is why I don't have more pictures. I wasn't sure how it would turn out.
But it did. And everyone, even the cook at school, pronounced it a keeper.
Spaghetti Squash Casserole with Sausage
1 to 2 spaghetti squash, cooked and flesh shredded (I actually not entirely sure how much spaghetti squash I had. It was a gallon bag almost full, and the chef told me he had fixed two spaghetti squash.)
1 package (16 ounces) Italian sausage
1 carton (16 ounces) part-skim ricotta cheese
1/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese (the kind in the can is fine, although the real stuff will pack a better flavor punch)
1/8 cup dried basil (or fresh if you have it)
1/2 cup shredded Italian blend cheese
Preheat oven to 350°F.
Remove sausage from casings and brown. If you like, you can add garlic to it as well. Come to think of it, I'm not sure why I didn't. Break up the sausage into small pieces, more like cooked ground beef.
Combine spaghetti squash, cooked sausage, ricotta, Parmesan and basil in a very large bowl. Mix well.
Pour the whole thing into a greased casserole dish. (I used a 9-inch square dish, but an 11x7-inch pan would probably have worked a little better; it was full to the top.) Sprinkle with the Italian blend cheese. Bake at 350°F for about 30 minutes, or until heated through. Makes 6 to 8 servings.