Happy Valentine’s Day week! Robert and I have tried a variety of Valentine’s Day traditions over the years, fancy dinners out, homemade dinners in and of course the memorable year I tried to make Robert’s favorite cheesecake from scratch in my ancient apartment oven which turned out decently tasty but horribly cracked and ugly. This year we will be volunteering at a charity gala for a local foundation that raises money for children with disabilities. The Heart Ball is a black tie affair with dinner, dancing and several auctions. I’m excited to help with such a worthy cause, and seeing my handsome husband in a tuxedo is always an added bonus
If I was a good blogger I would have a heart shaped recipe to share with you right now…or at the very least something pink/chocolate/covered in sprinkles. Instead I have a yummy veggie centric dinner recipe that is not Valentine’s related in the slightest…although it is red so maybe I can get partial credit?
This recipe can easily be made meat free and is delicious that way, but Robert prefers his with a little extra protein. I have done it with grilled chicken, sausage and even my favorite easy meatballs, which is how we have been enjoying it lately. If you aren’t of the carnivore variety, I suggest beefing up the extra vegetables, mushrooms, zucchini, eggplant and onion would be a great combination. Like my zucchini noodles, this is another non-recipe type recipe. It is slightly more prep intensive but doesn’t require a spiralizer. So if you are in the neighborhood for a pasta substitute without purchasing any additional gadgets, this recipe may be the one for you.
I was first introduced to the delectable spaghetti squash in graduate school. When first delving into the world of regular exercise and healthier eating, I bought one on a whim and brought it home without a clue as to how you prepared it. My good friend and roommate at the time, Tracy, informed me that my new find was yummy but a real pain to cut and boy was she ever right. The hardest part of prepping a spaghetti squash is cutting though it, I suggest a big sharp knife and well trained biceps, but after it’s halved, it’s super simple to make and even tastier to eat. Like zucchini, spaghetti squash is another great “noodle imitator” and comes by it’s name honestly. Once cooked it’s flesh turns into strands that look eerily similar to angel hair and soak up sauces equally as well. When combined with marinara sauce, your choice of add in’s (in this case mushrooms and meatballs) and topped with mozzarella, you end up with a hearty, healthy dinner reminiscent of baked spaghetti (although much healthier!).
Enjoy this recipe and a week full of love with those you love most!
Baked Spaghetti Squash Marinara
1 Spaghetti Squash
12 oz. of Marinara Sauce
4 oz. Mushrooms, sliced
6 Meatballs (or sub, diced grilled chicken, crumbled sausage or additional vegetables)
1/2 C. Shredded Mozzarella Cheese
1. Preheat oven to 400.
2. Cut spaghetti squash in half lengthwise. I find the easiest way to do this is to cut off the ends of the squash to create a flat surface on either end. Stand spaghetti squash up and then using a big, sharp knife, CAREFULLY cut in half long ways.
3. Using a spoon, scoop seeds from spaghetti squash halves, once cleaned, season halves with salt and pepper and place cut side down in an oven proof dish. Add a few tablespoons of water to bottom of dish, not enough to cover the entire bottom. Place dish in oven and roast spaghetti squash for 45 minutes.
4. Once removed from oven and cool, use a fork to gently scrape out the flesh of the squash, it should resemble pasta like strands. This can be done a day ahead and stored if necessary.
5. Reduce heat to 350.
6. Combine squash strands with marinara sauce, raw mushrooms and cooked meat. Mix well and place in a baking dish. Top with cheese and cover with foil. Bake for 15 minutes or until heated through, removing foil for final 5 minutes of baking. Serve hot and enjoy!