Spaghetti Squash and Kale Gratin

I haven’t been in the mood of eating meat lately, maybe it’s because on Sunday I had a meat orgy at a Vietnamese restaurant… even before that my appetite hasn’t been leaning towards meat, so I don’t know.  I don’t know if I’m going through changes (if you know what I mean) or just my body going through a phase.  Anyhow, whatever the reason is I have been enjoying different vegetarian meals lately (mostly Korean & Japanese dishes my mom made, yes, I’m lucky!)

Today I baked herb bread and I wanted to make something to go along with this bread.  I had a spaghetti squash sitting on my counter for the past 2 weeks and I was feeling a bit guilty not using it.  Lucky for me I found this recipe here and I adapted a bit to suit my family’s taste.  The original recipe calls for chard, but I had plenty of kales & spinach so that’s what I used.  I also made other changes, but if you want to see the original recipe please check here.

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1 large spaghetti squash (mine was 2.5 lbs)
1 large onion, diced small
1/2 tsp. dried thyme leaves
ground black pepper & salt to taste
1 Tablespoon minced garlic (or less or more)
12 oz. chopped kale leaves (about 5-6 cups chopped kale), and 10oz baby spinach.
2 T finely chopped fresh chives or sliced green onion
2 cups Ricotta cheese
1/2 cup coarsely grated Parmesan cheese plus about 1/4 cup more for topping the gratin
1 egg, beaten

**Optional:  I chopped about 1 cup of bell peppers.

Preheat oven to 400F/200C. Wash the outside of the spaghetti squash if needed, then cut off the stem and blossom end, stand squash upright, and using a large chef’s knife, carefully cut in half lengthwise.

Use a sharp spoon to scrape out seeds and the slimy material that surrounds them, and discard.  Place the squash halves on a microwaveable plate, put a plastic wrap and microwave until cooked (this will vary depending on the microwave, but mine took about 9 minutes).  Let squash cool for a few minutes, then shred into spaghetti-like strands.
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Wash kale leaves if needed and spin dry or dry with paper towel. In two batches, stack up chard leaves on top of each other and slice into thin ribbons, then turn the cutting the board the other way and slice again into small pieces (or you can buy the already triple washed chopped kale, but you still have to slice the ribbons).   Chop onion.

Heat 1 Tablespoon olive oil in heavy frying pan, add chopped onions, season with dried thyme, and black pepper, and sauté until onion is softened, about 2-3 minutes. Add minced garlic and cook about 1 minute more, then add bell peppers (if you’re using) and sauté for few minutes, then add kale and spinach all at once. Cook about 1-2 minutes, turning a few times until it’s wilted to about half the size it was. Lightly season with pepper and salt.  (The kale shouldn’t be completely cooked, since it will cook more in the gratin.) Turn off heat.
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Spray a glass or crockery gratin dish with non-stick spray or olive oil.
Using a large fork, gently mix the chopped chives or green onion and shredded spaghetti squash into the onion/kale mixture. Combine the ricotta, Parmesan cheese, and beaten egg and mix into the kale/spaghetti squash mixture, and lightly season with salt and pepper (or just pepper which I did with mine).  Then put the combined ingredients into the gratin dish, and press down so it’s evenly distributed in the dish. Sprinkle top with about 1/4 cup more Parmesan cheese.
Bake about 30-35 minutes, or until the mixture is bubbling and cheese is browned on top. Serve hot.

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My opinion:  Great tasting gratin!!  My children really enjoyed eating this too.  If you haven’t had spaghetti squash, please try this, it is so delicious.  We ate this gratin with my Cheese, Olive & Buttermilk Herb Bread.

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