All of us that love to cook find inspiration in many places. The most exciting inspiration is the kind that just pops into your head. You see a beautiful vegetable or a marvelous piece of meat and immediately begin to create a recipe around it. You rush home and begin to cook virtually by the seat of your pants. Most of the time it pays off, but once in a while it doesn’t. So you go back to the drawing board, changing an ingredient or adding another until you have the perfect dish. The result is something that you can call all your own.
There are many other sources for cooking inspiration. It could be one of the myriad cooking shows, a treasured cook book or a magazine featuring recipes of the season. While the idea may not be original, it is still a source of inspiration. When I see a recipe in one of these places, my first thought is how can I make it my own. I may occasionally make it as written, but more often I’ll substitute an ingredient or add something to the mix. The process is not too different from that of creating an original recipe, and the result is something that I can call my own.
This recipe came to be in the latter way. I saw a recipe for Spaghetti Squash Lasagna in a Kraft Foods magazine. Ironically, when I searched for the recipe online to provide the above link, I found many recipes for the same dish. The variations were amazing. In the shell, out of the shell…who knew that so many great minds could think in such a similar manner. In the world of online recipes that is vast beyond ones imagination, finding a dish similar to your creation is pretty easy. The good news is there’s room for everyone’s ideas; the more the merrier I always say. So I’ll share my take on the recipe and you can do with it whatever strikes your fancy.
I liked the idea of cooking the filling right in the squash shell. It made for an interesting presentation. I found a smallish squash that once cut, seeded, and baked was the perfect size for two generous servings.
I made the ricotta filling much like I would for a traditional lasagna, that is, I added spinach, garlic, and a little Pecorino Romano cheese along with an egg. The sauce started with sweet turkey Italian sausage links, casings removed. I added plenty of onions and garlic, of course before I added about a cup of pasta sauce, remnants of a previous adventure, that I found in the freezer.I used a fork to loosen the squash strands. I thought this would allow the flavors to get better acquainted. I layered the ricotta, sauce, and Romano cheese before topping it all with a good handful of grated Italian cheese blend.
It baked in the oven for about 30 minutes and spent a few minutes under the broiler. It came out crowned with a golden brown cheese crust, the bubbly filling peeking from beneath it.It tasted wonderful and I have to say we didn’t miss the pasta. I wanted this to be on the healthy side so I used part skim ricotta, minimal oil, and turkey sausage to cut some fat and calories. Use whatever you like. This would be great with ground beef, pork or even meatless. Use this as the source for your own inspiration and join the ranks of inspired cooks.