When the so-called “Indian” spaghetti squash showed up in my CSA share last week, I was inspired by, but resisted, convention. The cooling weather said “bake me” but I wanted something that would be a complete meal, which meant including a protein, but I didn’t want to go the route of ground meat, so I opted for black beans … and knew, then, this was going to be a vegetarian creation.
There is nothing complicated about this creation. It takes a bit of chopping and nothing more than a bit more time for cooking. Having said that, I did employ a couple of techniques that are a bit atypical of spaghetti squash which is usually baked, scooped with a fork to create the tell-tale sinews of squash, and then slathered with sauce. Rather, I wanted to get as much flavour into the squash as possible, not just on top of the squash — this was more important to me than whether it looked like spaghetti. As such, I first made the black bean ragù, stove top, a stew inspired by Mediterranean flavours but not wed to any particular country or cuisine. I then hollowed out the squash, pricked the flesh with a fork, and poured in the flavourful ragù into the squash and so that it could permeate the flesh while baking. However, I knew this would not produce the ratio of ragù to squash I wanted — the rest was saved to be plated under the served squash providing more flavour and protein to make for a complete meal.
The result was a resounding, triumphant success which made this an instant winner in our house. From my house to yours, may your harvest be just as tasty.
Prep time: 40 minutes
Cook time: 50 minutes
Total time: 90 minutes
Servings: 6-8 depending on size of squash
Stuffed Spaghetti Squash with Black Bean Ragù
- 1 large spaghetti squash (3lbs/1.4kg)
- 1 large onion
- 1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
- 1/2 red bell-pepper, diced
- 2 cups of baby eggplant, chopped
- 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
- 2 cloves garlic
- 1 medium zucchini
- 20 Kalamatta olives, pitted and sliced
- 2 cups (16oz) chopped tomatoes
→ roughly 6 roma (or 4 large) tomatoes peeled and seeded
- 4 oz (115g) Greek feta, cubed
→ divide the cheese
- 2 tablespoons fresh cilantro leaves, chopped
- 1 tablespoons fresh basil, chiffonade
- 1 teaspoon fresh oregano, chopped
- 1 teaspoon sugar
- 1 teaspoon balsamic vinegar
- 1/2 teaspoon chili paste
- freshly ground pepper
- 1/4 cup Asiago cheese, grated
→ or substitute 2 year-old cheddar
- Preheat oven to 375ºF and put a medium pot of water on to boil.
- Prepare the tomatoes by slicing a thin cross on the base of each and when the water comes to boil, add them to the water and water for the peel to begin to lift at the cut marks (approx. 1-2 minutes).
Remove from water and run under cold water. Peel the tomatoes then cut them into quarters and core them. Remove the seed sacs from the centres of each quarter and place sacs into a mesh strainer to remove seeds but save the liquid for later.
Discard the seeds.
Chop up the seeded tomatoes and set it aside.
- Chop the onion and, over medium-high heat, saute it with olive oil for about 5 minutes — until the onion just begins to turn golden.
- Add the chopped bell pepper and continue to saute for another 5 minutes. Both onion and pepper should be just beginning to caramelize.
- Chop the eggplant and add it along with 2 more tablespoons of oil to the pan and continue to fry for another 5 minutes.
→ Note: Use baby eggplant because it doesn’t require peeling. As well, you’re adding more oil now (vs. all at once) because this allowed the onions to caramelize … but the eggplant is going to need more oil.
- Add cubed zucchini now.
- Coarsely chop the cilantro, basil, oregano and add it along with diced tomatoes to the ragù. Add chili paste and the teaspoons of balsamic and sugar as well and a grating of fresh pepper.
- Slice the olives into quarters and add it to the ragù along with 3/4 of the cubed feta.
- Pour the black beans into a mesh strainer and drain the liquid from the beans. Rinse thoroughly under cold water and then add them to the ragù.
- Remove ragù from heat and mix well and set aside. Taste for seasoning. It should require salt (with the feta and olives) but you may want to adjust the heat.
- Prepare the squash but carefully cutting it in half, lengthwise, and, using a tablespoon, scoop out the seeds and pulp and discard them. Using a fork, prick the insides of the squash. Place the two halves in a large skillet or on a pan that will keep them upright and from falling over.
- Fill the halves of the squash with the ragù.
- Top ragù with cheese and place the squash in the oven and bake for 50-60 minutes.
- Remove squash from oven when squash is fork tender — be careful cheese doesn’t burn, so if it is browned before squash is finished, simply cover the tops of the squash with some aluminum foil to protect tops. Let squash cool 5-10 minutes before serving.
- Meanwhile, 15 minutes before serving, return remaining ragù to heat, and bring to a simmer. Cover and simmer for 10 minutes then remove from heat. The feta inside the ragù will have melted. To complete the ragù, add the remaining feta and mix. Place a scoop of ragù on each plate.
- To serve the squash, take a sharp spoon and hollow out the squash from the skin, careful not to break the ragù on top then cut the squash into serving sizes and scoop out place a piece of squash on top of the plated ragù.