Spaghetti squash! The versatile, previously under-utilized squash that makes a huge difference in my meals as soon as it becomes seasonal. It is a great way to add content and nutrition to a dish without overpowering it. The spaghetti squash has very little flavor on it’s own, so it will work with almost any flavor profile. Earlier this year, I shared my recipe for a spaghetti squash marinara dish that was extremely popular, and very easy to make. You can also learn more about spaghetti squash in general by checking out that post.
Two aspects of this dish are important – one is the kale. Tuscan kale, also referred to as “Dinosaur kale,” has an extremely different flavor profile and texture than the wider-known, more typical curly kale. It is darker, the leaves are straighter, and it has a more delicate, sweet taste than typical kale, making it more usable in everyday dishes, and preferable to those who claim they don’t like kale. Tuscan kale is common in Italian cuisine, most popularly used in soups and pastas. Cooking the kale before adding it to a casserole allows the tough stems to break down a bit, making it easier to eat and more flavorful.
The other important aspect of this dish are the leeks. I LOVE LEEKS. When leek season begins, I usually buy a whole bunch of them, cut them into medallions, and stash them in the freezer. The flavor is so unique among the other common onion varietals- its like a mixture between an onion and some kind of green (spinach, kale, etc.) They are easy to throw into any dish and they always add so much depth of flavor. The important thing to remember is that they typically grow deep in the ground, and the white parts (the more commonly used parts of the leek) need to be properly washed before use. There is generally a lot of sand and dirt particles hidden in the layers. Once you’ve washed your leeks, go for it!
I don’t generally share recipes containing any ingredients that one cannot find at the market. I made an exception this time because I really wanted to show the versatility of the spaghetti squash. In order to do that, I had to add some flavors that aren’t found at any market vendor’s booths. I decided to go in a semi-Mexican direction, so I added salsa verde and black beans. This creates a great Mexican flavor profile without being overwhelming. The eggs in the dish hold the casserole together. I actually enjoyed this dish as a breakfast item – I even put a fried egg on top!
The one thing that I really want to stress in this post is that spaghetti squash is very versatile. I encourage you to grab one or two at the market, try this recipe (or one of your choosing), and open up to the thought that this is a great veggie-based substitute for so many dishes. It really does astound me what creative recipes some chefs have been able to create with such a simple vegetable!
Fall Spaghetti Squash Casserole
- 1 Medium Spaghetti Squash (Spiral Path Farm)
- 1 Large Leek (Two Acre Farm)
- 8 Large Leaves Tuscan Kale (Spiral Path Farm)
- 1 Can Black Beans, drained
- 1 Cup Salsa Verde
- 3 Eggs (Liberty Delight Farms)
- 1 Container Mozzarella (Blue Ridge Dairy Co.)
Preheat the oven to 350. Cut the spaghetti squash in half length-wise and remove the seeds. Rub olive oil, salt, and pepper over the exposed sides of the squash. Place on a baking sheet, exposed-side down, and cook in the oven for 35 minutes.
Meanwhile, cut the leek into ¼-inch sized medallions, using only the white and light green parts. Wash the kale and cut it into ½-inch sized ribbons. Add 2 Tbsp. olive oil to a large pan. When the oil is hot, add the leeks. Cook for 2-3 minutes until the leeks start to become translucent. Add the kale to the pan and cook for another 3-4 minutes. Remove from heat and add to a large bowl. Keep the oven on.
As soon as the squash is cool enough to touch, remove the spaghetti “strands” using a fork. Place the strands into a colander and push down, removing as much moisture as possible. You may need to do this several times to get all of the liquid out.
In the large bowl with the leeks and kale, add the spaghetti squash strands, the black beans (drained), and the salsa verde. Beat the eggs and add to the bowl. Pour the ingredients into an oven safe 9×13 dish.
Cut the mozzarella into discs thin enough to cover the entire top layer of the casserole.
Place the casserole in the oven and bake for 20-25 minutes, until nothing moves when you wiggle the dish. Let sit at least 20 minutes before serving.