Eggplant, Mozzarello and Arugula Muffuletta with Sundried Tomato Dressing

Lazy summer weekends require just a little bit of advanced planning to fall into place perfectly.  I may want to relax and enjoy my weekends, but I also want to have great tasting, good meals to enjoy at my leisure.  I’ve made pressed sandwiches in many variations; I prefer mostly to have an all veggie stuffing.  It may not be all that kid friendly but I don’t have to worry about that these days.

When my children were younger, I would make a Muffuletta with deli turkey and brie.  We’d pack up this sandwich for weekend trips to Sanibel or beach picnics.  It carries really well; prepared ahead of time and sliced when ready to eat.  Can’t get much easier or better than that!

I really miss those road trips. My daughter would carry on and on hating being in the car, her stomach always hurting.  My son and her would fight over what dvd movie to play, he liked the action type or scary ones and she liked the girly teen movies.  Once settled on the movie to watch, we dealt with her sitting too close to him, volume adjusting too loud, too quiet, fidgeting, complaints and finally falling asleep.  Some of the most wonderful memories I will always cherish.

Eggplant, Mozzarello and Arugula Muffuletta with Sun Dried Tomato and Olive Dressing

1/3 cup sun dried tomatoes

Boiling water

¼ cup pitted kalamata olives

¼ cup olive oil – or less

2 cloves garlic, chopped

2 tablespoons parsley leaves

¼ teaspoon ground black pepper

1 loaf Rosemary bread or other freshly bakede rustic style bread

1 eggplant, peeled and cut into ¼ inch horizontal slices

2 peppers, either red or combination of red, yellow or orange

½ pound mozzarella cheese

2 cups arugula

For the dressing:

Place sun dried tomatoes in enough boiling water to cover. Let stand for 15 minutes to soften.  Drain and add to food processor along with the olives, garlic anchovy paste, parsley and pepper.  Slowly add in olive oil to form a paste; not excessively oily.  Refrigerate until ready to use, can be made a day ahead.

For the grilled eggplant:

Lightly oil each slices and grill until tender.  Season with kosher salt and black pepper.  Set aside to cool.

For the roasted peppers:

Place peppers on grill and grill until charred all over.  Or use a foil lined broiler pan and broil until charred all over.  Immediately place peppers into a paper bag and allow to cool.  When cool enough to handle, peel off skin, discard seeds and slice into large sections.  Do not rinse the peppers, just use your hands to rub off the skin and seeds. Set aside.

For the muffuletta:

Cut bread horizontally with a serrated knife.  Remove some of the bread from the inside on both halves, leaving about ½ inch crust.  Save bread in the freezer for bread crumbs or stuffing.  Spread both cut sides with some of the dressing.  Layer in the eggplant slices, top with roasted pepper slices.  Spread another light layer of the dressing and top with mozzarella slices.  Add another layer of eggplant slices and top with arugula.  Firmly press sandwich closed with top crust and tightly wrap with plastic wrap or foil.  Refrigerate until ready to cut and serve.  Also panini pressing this sandwich is awesome!!

Zucchini Pancakes

When I was little zucchini was not my favorite veggie.  In fact, it was never on my dinner plate, no way.  It seemed like my mother would come up with so many different ways to sneak in prepare zucchini.  She won me over finally, disguising it in pancakes or bread.  Even better, chocolate zucchini bread!  Thankfully, my taste buds expanded and just like my mother, zucchini finds its way into so many dishes and meals I plan.  

The same held true for my kids; though my daughter grew to love zucchini, my son still stays away.  This one is for Gina.  It’s an easy, quick lunch or dinner, served alone with a salad and baguette or as a side.  She always needs a dipping sauce to go with whatever she eats so along with the obvious marinara sauce, a nice dollop of sour cream or tzatsiki sauce, recipe below, or for a bit spicier dipping, a sirachi and mayo mix.   When I’ve served these for a brunch, topped with a poached or fried egg is really good! 

I’m thinking though I might first have to buy her a box grater…

Zucchini Pancakes

adapted from Barefoot Contessa at Home

1 medium zucchini

2 small yellow squash

1 tablespoon Kosher salt, optional for salting/draining

1 green onion, finely chopped

2 garlic cloves, minced

2 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley (I’ve also used a mix of fresh parsley, basil and or oregano)

2 large eggs, beaten

¼ – ½ cup of flour (for gluten free use cornmeal or garbanzo bean flour)

1 teaspoon baking powder

1 teaspoon Kosher salt

½ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

Olive oil

Preheat oven to 300 degrees.  Grate the zucchini and squash and place in a large bowl.  Sprinkle on Kosher salt and allow to sit for about 20 minutes (optional, as sometimes I do, sometimes I don’t!)  Rinse well and squeeze dry in a clean towel.  Return the squash to the bowl and add in the remaining ingredients.  If the mixture appears too liquidy, add in more flour. 

Heat a large griddle with olive oil to coat.  Working in batches, drop spoonfuls* of batter on to skillet and cook about 2 minutes per side or until golden brown.  Place the pancakes on a baking sheet to keep warm in the oven until all pancakes have been made.  The pancakes can stay warm in the oven for about 30 minutes.  Serve hot. 

* Sometimes size does matter, I prepared these as small appetizer bites, but they can be prepared larger and, for those with good flipping hot skills, one large pancake that fills the skillet make a cool presentation!

Tzatziki Sauce

1/2 cup plain yogurt

1/2 cup sour cream

1/2 cup grated cucumber, squeezed dry

1 teaspoon minced garlic 

1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil

1 tablespoon chopped mint

1/2 teaspoon lemon juice 

1 teaspoon lemon zest

Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste

Leaning Tower of Eggplant

I’m a big fan of the caprese salad in every way it’s presented.  From uniform overlapping slices or stacked like an Italian flag, to a jumble of tiny mozzarella balls and cherry tomatoes or roughly rustic chopped.  Summer is the perfectly ripe time for this salad and I could truly enjoy a simple caprese salad with a chunk of ciabatta bread for dinner any night!  But when I’m looking for a bit more; it’s this tower of crispy, melting, cheesy delight I go for!

Eggplants are always in my grocery basket.  Usually I have no specific plan for their use while also knowing they will find their way into something within the next few days!  Lately, I’ve been obsessed over making them into eggplant fries, which I now totally prefer over zucchini fries hands down!  Following the similar method of roasting the egg white/breaded eggplant slices instead of frying; the slices are then topped with a slice of tomato and mozzarella.  A drizzle of reduced balsamic vinegar is drizzled over and served warm; totally a melt-in-your-mouth explosion of flavor!

Just recently Chicaandaluza posted her eggplant stack layered with marinara.  This too is a great idea; check it out also!

Roasted Eggplant Caprese Tower

1-2 eggplants (depending on amount to be served)

1 egg white (or 2 depending on amount of eggplant)

½ cup panko/bread crumbs (or more)

2 tablespoons freshly grated parmesan cheese

1 tablespoon dried oregano or basil

Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper

Olive oil for drizzling

1 ball of fresh mozzarella, cut in ¼ inch slices

1-2 tomatoes (size to match the eggplant), cut in ¼ inch slices

Fresh basil leaves, enough for each slice

¼ cup Balsamic vinegar (see below to reduce to a glaze)

Slice eggplants about ½ in thick and layer with salt on a plate for 1 hour.  Drain well and press down to release any liquid.  Preheat oven to 420 degrees.  Prepare a baking sheet with a rack on top.  Spray the rack well with cooking spray.  Beat egg white well in one bowl, in another mix the bread crumbs, cheese, dried herbs, salt and pepper.  Dip eggplant slices in the egg white and then in bread crumb mix.  Place on prepared rack over the baking sheet.  Drizzle with olive oil and bake for 15-20 minutes.  Turn the eggplant, top with a slice of tomato, basil leaf and a slice of mozzarella.  Return to the oven and roast an additional 10-15 minutes or until cheese has begun to slightly brown and soft.  Remove from oven and stack.  Drizzle with balsamic glaze and serve.

Balsamic Glaze:  In a small saucepan, gently simmer the balsamic vinegar until reduced by 2/3.  Cool and set aside until needed.

Eggplant Fries with Spicy Mayo

On the morning of the arrival of my weekend guests, I ran out to my favorite Italian market and stocked my frig, that is two refrigerators, with plenty of fresh fruit, veggies, meats and fish for grilling, appetizers and morning breakfasts.  I had my thoughts for what I would serve but I also knew that being in the kitchen with Ayesha we would pull the “ingredients” and come up with lots of combined ideas.  And that is exactly how the weekend played out!

On Friday we took the boys to the beach.  It was really a weekend for the little guys to experience Florida; the blue skies, sunshine, sand and ocean.  For lunch that day we ordered zucchini fries.  And here is where the story begins.  I see the fries.  Kinda greasy, overpriced, but tasty.  I think… I’ve done these many times, I’ve got zucchini at home, I’m adding this to one of our grilling meals.  I make the zucchini fries, Ayesha makes up a spicy mayo dipping sauce.  We absolutely love it!  Crispy from the oven, not greasy and the sauce she made was perfect with just enough heat!

The next day we are still talking about the zucchini fries, but we are all out of zucchini.   I mention we have an eggplant but never made eggplant into fries.  I think it might not be a good idea… and then I change my mind.  And, OMG, I’m so glad we tried it out!  The eggplant fries were meatier, crisped up on the outside and tender on the inside.  Totally not bitter and we did not salt them beforehand.

We served the Eggplant Fries with grilled Florentine Veal Burgers that I adapt from my Florentine Veal Loaf recipe.  Basically I use the same ingredients from the meatloaf but omit the ricotta cheese.  The meatloaf and the burgers always turn out juicy and flavorful!  Though I didn’t take food photos of the entire weekend; we had the Grilled Tuna Salad with Roasted Peppers and Zucchini, Grilled Pizzas, No-Fail Kale Caesar Salad, grilled t-bone steaks and grilled chicken sausage spirals and for breakfast one morning a trio of pancakes with rum syrup.  Thank you to Geni from Sweet and Crumbly for the inspiration on the trio idea.  I made a trio of granola, chocolate chip and blueberry pancakes, topping the “adult” pancakes with her rum syrup!

In addition there were (soon to be posted) Jello shots, key-lime ice cream bites, a secretly filled cookie jar and probably a few others I’m forgetting… weekends just go by too quickly!

Eggplant Fries with Spicy Mayo

For the eggplant fries:

1 large firm eggplant, peeled and cut in half, then in slices and then into sticks

2-3 egg whites

2 cup mix of seasoned Italian bread crumbs and Panko

¼ cup parmesan cheese

Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper

Olive oil to drizzle over eggplant

For the spicy mayo:

4 tablespoons mayonnaise

2 tablespoons Sriracha sauce

Prepare a baking sheet with a rack on top.  This allows the “fries” to bake all around and not get soggy.  Preheat oven to 420 degrees. 

In a medium size bowl, mix together the bread crumb/panko mix, parmesan cheese, salt and pepper.  Rather than dip each “fry” into egg white then bread crumbs, I place all eggplant fries into a large bowl and pour over egg whites mixing gently.  Using my hands I grab a few sticks and drop them into the bread crumb mix bowl and gently coat each “fry”.  Place the eggplant evenly onto the rack, close but not overlapping.  Lightly drizzle olive oil over the eggplant.  Bake for 20 minutes, turn the “fries” and bake until crisp about another 10 minutes.  For extra crispiness, turn on the broiler for just a few minutes, about 2 minutes.

For the dipping sauce:  combine the mayonnaise and sriracha sauce and mix well.  Adjust spiciness to individual taste.

Grilled Eggplant, Fontina,Tomato and Arugula…Sandwich?

With the burger grilling season upon us I like to include some grilled veggie options for my veggie loving friends.  I find it hard to call it a grilled “sandwich”.  The eggplant slices do function as the “bread” but it’s not a “sandwich” you’d want to hold in your hands to eat.  Okay, maybe, if you don’t mind getting a bit messy.  But then again, if Bobby Flay refers to this as a “sandwich”, then by all means, it is a sandwich!

I have followed his recipe using goat cheese and basil oil  but this time I made it with fontina cheese and sage.  It’s quite versatile and I find myself returning to this recipe often switching around the cheeses and herbs.  When I have used a smaller, thinner eggplant, the stacks are more appetizer-like though I will serve this as a side, an appetizer or an entrée’.   It’s wonderful served warm but just as good room temperature.

 Grilled Eggplant, Fontina, Tomato and Arugula Sandwich

Adapted from Bobby Flay, Boy Meets Grill

For the herb oil:

½ cup olive oil

½ cup chopped fresh sage or fresh basil

Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper to taste

For the eggplant sandwiches (for 8 sandwiches):

2 medium eggplants, cut crosswise into ¼ – ½ inch slices, 16 slices

2 tomatoes cut into ¼ inch slices, 8 slices

1/4 cup olive oil

4 garlic cloves, coarsely chopped

8 ounces fontina cheese, thinly sliced

Arugula

1/4 cup packed fresh sage or fresh basil, chopped or chiffonade the basil

Kosher salt and fresh ground pepper to taste

For the herb oil:  Combine the olive oil and herbs in a food processor, season with salt and pepper.  Process until pureed, about 5 minutes.

For the sandwiches:  Combine the olive oil and garlic in a large bowl or ziplock baggie.  Add the eggplant and allow to marinate for 1 hour, refrigerated.

Preheat grill or grill pan to high.  Remove eggplant from marinade and shake off any excess.  Season with salt and pepper, grill until golden brown and cooked through about 3 minutes per side.  Place 8 eggplant slices on a work surface.  Top with a slice of tomato, slice of cheese and a few arugula leaves.  Cover with the remaining eggplant slices.  Place on grill until cheese has softened about 1 minute.  Arrange on a platter and drizzle with the herb oil and sprinkle on fresh chopped herbs.

I’m Stuffed! Ciabatta Salad Sandwich

If asked for my preference as to how I like my pizza, it would be topped with a salad!  Crisp, mixed greens mounted on a hot slice of pizza.  I don’t often if ever eat it out this way, but my daughter certainly has seen me do this many times at home and I believe I have caught her piling salad on her pizza too!  I finally spotted it on a menu in an Italian restaurant which made me feel quite happy I wasn’t the only one enjoying pizza this way!

The same goes for sandwiches; I’m not a deli meat kind of gal.  Grilled veggie Panini’s are fabulous but when I’m not in the mood or have the time to grill, a salad in a sandwich is quick and easy.  The ingredients vary depending on what I have on hand, but the method does have importance.  Trying to eat a sandwich with loosely mixed ingredients can become quite a messy undertaking.  Therefore, after much trial, error and messy hands, I have perfected my salad sandwich making!

To begin with, I love ciabatta bread.  It crisps up nicely when lightly grilled and the airy pockets make it lighter, less doughy bread.  Still, I cut it not exactly in half lengthwise, about ¾ of the way up and will remove some of the bottom half bread inside to create a “shell or bowl” to fill up with the salad.   I spread pesto on the inside of both and grill or broil until lightly golden.

Slicing tomatoes and cucumbers is better for layering in the sandwich than using chopped veggies which will tend to fall out easier.  Mixed greens of all sorts, arugula, spinach, romaine, crumbled cheeses, artichokes, garbanzo beans, avocado, roasted peppers, etc, etc, are mixed with a light vinaigrette and piled inside.  Sometimes I will lightly broil the filled bottom half to softly melt the cheese and rewarm the top half.  The top should be gently pressed over the salad and cut into individual wedges just before serving.

Since there is no mayo in it, it’s great to wrap up and take on a picnic or bike ride!

Artichoke Bites

 

This weekend I attended my dear friend Martha’s birthday luncheon.  Martha is not too vain to admit she was turing 64 and planned her birthday around the Beatles’ song, When I’m Sixty Four.  With that theme in mind, Martha invited her friends to a potlock lunch, as the song goes, “Will you still need me, will you still feed me, when I’m 64″ !

My contribution to the luncheon was my Sonoma Chicken Salad and these Artichoke Bites.  I have not made these little bites in years but remembered how well they were loved whenever I served these with cocktails before dinner parties.  Again, it’s those simple recipes that always seem to get the most attention.  I could fuss for hours on an elaborate dinner and hear all the compliments going to these little bites!

I have substituted other cheese for the sharp white cheddar, using goat cheese or gorgonzola.  I have added sundried tomato and pancetta sauted with the onion.  It’s a very versatile recipe, a make ahead appetizer and always a popular dish at any party! 

Artichoke Bites

2 10 oz frozen artichokes, thawed

1 tablespoon olive oil

1 small onion, minced

2 garlic cloves, minced

1/4 cup fine dry bread crumbs

5 eggs beaten

1/2 teaspoon Kosher salt

1/4 teaspoon freshly ground pepper

1/2 teaspoon dried oregano

Dash of Tabasco

8 oz sharp white cheedar, grated

2 tablespoons fresh parsley, minced

Preheat oven to 325 degrees.  Spray a 8″ x 11″ pan and set aside.  In a skillet, heat olive oil and saute onion until soft.  Add in garlic just to lightly saute.  Remove from heat to a large bowl and allow to cool slightly.  Coarsely chop artichokes and add to bowl.  Mix together the beaten eggs and breadcrumbs and add to bowl.  Stir in all remaining ingredients.  Pour into prepared pan, spreading to even thickness.  Bake until set and lightly browned about 30 minutes. 

Cool and cut into 1 inch square, approximately 32 bites.  Serve warm or at room temperature. 

Pasta with Roasted Cauliflower, Sun-dried Tomatoes and Olives

Roasting veggies is one of my favorite ways to enjoy my veggies and I will roast all types of veggies, even Kale!  Roasting brings out a unique nutty and crispy taste and texture.  I am totally pleased and satisfied to dine on a dish of seasonally fresh and healthy veggies!

 This dish is gorgeous to present and full of flavor.  It has a Mediterranean feeling with a sun-kissed melody of color and zest.  I like to play up the veggies and downplay the carbs, so for this serving for four I only used ½ pound of pasta.  Any type of pasta will work well in this dish but I used corn spaghetti, which is gluten free adding another level of veggie flavor and yellow color to the dish.  Sun-dried tomatoes and Kalamata olives round out the dish and the bread crumb topping, tho optional, definitely adds another dimension of taste.   And a sprinkling of feta on top would also be so nice!

 I make a type of gremolata topping for this dish using a mix of toasted breadcrumbs, parmesan cheese, minced garlic, lemon zest and parsley.  Tho it is always best made fresh, I keep a small container of this in my refrigerator, at times with or without the breadcrumbs, and use it to sprinkle on top of various dishes I prepare.  The fresh parsley and lemon zest brighten dishes and I will play with additional ingredients adding in mint or finely chopped hazelnuts, almonds or walnuts to make a flavorful garnish to grilled or roasted meats.   If made ahead use within a day or two.

Pasta with Roasted Cauliflower, Sun-dried Tomatoes and Olives

 1 medium cauliflower, trimmed into florets

2 tablespoons olive oil

Kosher Salt and freshly ground pepper

½ pound spaghetti or favorite style (I used gluten-free corn spaghetti)

2-3 tablespoons olive oil

½ cup pitted Kalamata olives, halved

½ cup chopped sun-dried tomatoes

1-2 cloves garlic, minced

1 heaping tablespoon pesto

½ cup – ¾ cup pasta cooking water

For the topping:

¼ cup bread crumbs

1 tablespoon ghee or butter

¼ cup finely grated parmesan cheese

1 tablespoon minced garlic

Zest of one lemon

2 – 3 tablespoons finely chopped parsley

Preheat oven to 400 degrees.  Toss cauliflower with olive oil, salt and pepper and place on large baking sheet.  Roast for approximately 30-35 minutes until lightly golden around the edges.   In a large skillet, prepare the breadcrumb topping by lightly toasting the breadcrumbs in 1 tablespoon of ghee or butter.  Remove from the skillet and place in a medium size bowl. Stir in the minced garlic, parmesan cheese, lemon zest and chopped parsley, set aside. 

When the cauliflower is close to done roasting, begin heating  2-3 tablespoons of olive oil in the same skillet used to toast the breadcrumbs.  Gently warm the olives, sun-dried tomatoes and garlic.  Pour in ½ cup to ¾ cup pasta cooking water and pesto and allow to simmer for 2-3 minutes.  Drain the pasta and add to the skillet, quickly tossing.  Season to taste with salt and pepper and drizzle on additional olive oil and lemon juice if necessary.  Plate in a large bowl, sprinkle on the breadcumb topping and serve immediately.  Serves 4.

Veggie Fried Quinoa

As I am always trying to eat less animal protein, I have begun to really get into Quinoa.  I will prepare a batch and use it within a few days to make a Quinoa Tabbouleh, or mixed into my morning oatmeal, or simply dressed with ghee for a comfort food dinner.  That last idea was given to me by a healthy-eating coworker who has fallen in love with this Quinoa powerhouse of protein, thank you Debbie!

I try to think up ideas to use the quinoa in place of couscous or rice in recipes.  So yesterday, having a mix of stir fry veggies on hand, I decided to try making a veggie fried quinoa…obviously instead of fried rice.  Whenever making a fried rice dish, the rice must be made ahead and be chilled; therefore, my chilled quinoa would be perfect.   And the results were very good.  I simply followed on of my basic fried rice recipe and replaced quinoa for rice!  While I did a vegetarian version, adding shrimp or chicken or pork would work just as well.  And, for those watching their gluten, this dish is gluten-free!

Veggie Fried Quinoa

1 cup cooked quinoa, cold (see below for how to)

2 eggs, lightly beaten or 4 egg whites (omit for vegan)

2 teaspoons peanut oil or safflower oil

2 cups trimmed and sliced mixed veggies, all cut uniformly into 1-inch pieces

      (I used broccoli, snow peas, cabbage and carrots.  Other options include asparagus, red bell pepper, fresh or frozen peas)

2 scallions, cut into 1-inch pieces

1 clove garlic, minced

1 tablespoon minced fresh ginger

½ tablespoon tamari or soy sauce

2 tablespoons rice wine vinegar

2 teaspoon toasted sesame oil

Hot red pepper sauce, to taste

Optional:  top with chopped cashew or peanuts

Prep all veggies and measure all ingredients ahead of time to ensure a quick stir fry. 

Heat a large skillet or wok with 1 teaspoon peanut oil to medium high heat. Pour in eggs and cook, stirring gently, until just set, 30 seconds to 1 minute. Transfer to a small bowl and chop finely.

Heat remaining teaspoon of peanut oil and add broccoli and carrots, cook, stirring, for 2 minutes. Add cabbage, snow peas, ginger and garlic stirring until the vegetables are just tender, about 2 minutes. Add the cooked rice to stir fry for about 2 minutes.  Add soy sauce and vinegar to the pan; cook until the liquid is absorbed, 30 seconds to 1 minute. Fold in the cooked eggs. Remove from the heat; stir in sesame oil and hot sauce. Taste and adjust to preference with additional tamari sauce and/or pepper. Top with chopped cashews or peanuts if using. Serve hot.

Cooking Quinoa:  In a fine metal strainer, rinse the quinoa well.  This step is important to rinse off the residue.  Like rice, I use a 1:2 ratio, i.e., 1 cup quinoa to 2 cups liquid.  Water is normally used, but I have used vegetable or chicken broth as well.  Bring to boil and reduce to simmer.  Cover and simmer between 30 to 35 minutes.  Remove from heat, allow to sit for about five minutes, fluff and serve!

Baked Spaghetti Squash with Spinach, Ricotta and Gorgonzola

Ever since I discovered the magic of spaghetti squash many years back it has been a favorite veggie for its versatility and neutral, mild taste.  I love mostly to substitute it for pasta when I want to avoid carbs and  if I top it with a rich sauce like Alfredo, I feel so less guilty.

Spaghetti Squash can be microwaved, simmered in water or baked.  I prefer to bake or roast my squash as I like the nuttier flavor and it is less watery cooked in this manner.  The hardest part is cutting the squash in half!  Some markets will cut the squash for you which is helpful if you know you will be preparing it within a day or two. 

Since the roasting time takes about an hour I like to take advantage of my heated oven and throw in other veggies with it, like roasting garlic and as in this time, a whole eggplant.  I will use the creamy flesh of the eggplant for paninis or whipped up into a spread.

I found this recipe on Real Simple and knew immediately this was a dish I would love, of course with a bit of personal preference tweaking! 

Baked Spaghetti Squash with Spinach, Ricotta and Gorgonzola

1 3 pound spaghetti squash, halved lengthwise and seeded

1 tablespoon olive oil

Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper

1 15 oz container ricotta

1 large egg

1 10 oz package frozen spinach, thawed and squeezed dry

1 clove garlic, minced

1/3 teaspoon ground nutmeg

1 teaspoon Kosher salt

1/8 teaspoon pepper

1-2 dashes of hot sauce (optional)

1 ½  cup grated mozzarella

½ cup crumbled gorgonzola cheese

 Heat oven to 400 degrees.  Place the squash on a rimmed baking sheet, drizzle with oil and sprinkle with salt and pepper.  Place cut side down and roast until tender, about 50 – 60 minutes.   Remove from oven and allow to cool.  (For easier week night meals, I roast the squash the night before.)

In a large bowl, combine the ricotta, egg, spinach, garlic, nutmeg, hot sauce, salt and pepper.  When the squash has cooled enough to handle, use a fork to gently scrape out the strands of flesh and add to the ricotta mixture.  Mix gently to combine.

Transfer the mixture to an 8 inch square baking dish, sprinkle with mozzarella and gorgonzola cheese and bake until browned and bubbling, 18-22 minutes.