If you love spaghetti squash pie, be sure to check out the newest NCK cheesy pie recipe…
Someone help me–I just can’t stop with the comfort food makeovers! Maybe I should rename this blog “comfort classic makeovers”. Catchy.
Did anyone else grow up with spaghetti pie? Because the Olson household was all about it. When I saw that Lindsay, a fellow Minnesotan (and rock star food blogger) about my age, posted a spaghetti pie recipe on Pinch of Yum this summer, I was like, “It’s a Minnesota thing!” Because you know east coast Italians would not defile their spaghetti this way. She responded that she actually didn’t grow up with it, but I think it still proves that spaghetti pie runs in every hot dish-loving Minnesotan’s blood.
It starts in a pie plate (obviously), which is filled with heaps of spaghetti noodles mixed with egg and cheese and sour cream, followed by a thick layer of meaty red sauce, then topped with shredded mozzarella cheese (Mom, correct me if I got anything wrong). The egg mixture binds the noodles together into a dense baked spaghetti brick kind of thing, but in the best way possible. You have to taste it to believe it, because every word I’m coming up with to write about it sounds less than appetizing. Firm? Chewy? No. Basically it means you get more spaghetti and a perfect balance of noodles and sauce in every bite. Then serve it up alongside an oven-warmed, butter-soaked loaf of garlic bread and you have a comfort food dinner that dreams are made of.
Buttttttt a certain Olson family kind of doesn’t eat processed wheat anymore, which poses a major roadblock between me, spaghetti pie, half a loaf of garlic bread (just being honest), and a glass of red wine. Consistent with my food philosophy, though, I don’t buy that cleaning up your nutrition has to mean a boring piece of chicken (which can, in fact, also be quite dangerous for your health) and a side of unsalted, blanched broccoli for dinner. Most of the time, it should mean cooking with whole food, unprocessed ingredients. Like squash, as opposed to mass manufactured spaghetti noodles. So when I was gifted a spaghetti squash at my parents house this summer, it was like a lightning bolt hit me. People are cray for pretending spaghetti squash strands are real noodles, so why haven’t I seen a spaghetti squash pie recipe yet???
Probably because it isn’t quite as simple as just swapping out the noodles and swapping in spaghetti squash. The first experimentation with the pie was satisfactory. It led to me creating my mushroom marinara recipe (fresh produce = kitchen creativity), so flavor-wise, the pie was awesome. My parents and I (only three people, mind you) nearly finished off a single deep dish pie, which I constructed in a huge glass BOWL because it wouldn’t fit in a pie plate. It was quite a sight to see, but I have zero pictures, because it took way longer to make when I did the sauce in the same day, and I was in a rush to get dinner on the table for two hungry cyclists. Aside from revamping the recipe to fit in a normal pie plate, there was a moisture issue–all the zucchini and spaghetti squash produced kind of wet pie, which never quite set up like the original firm recipe. Hehe. Or dense.
Turns out I could solve both of my problems by pressing out extra water from the squash after I cooked it, and I was amazed that a four pounder produced around 3/4 a cup of water! As you can imagine, that cuts down on the sheer mass of squash noodles and it helps the egg and ricotta stick to the noodles better, because they’re not slippery and wet. Think about trying to make scrambled eggs with equal parts water and egg. While I haven’t tried this, your egg probably isn’t going to set because you’re introducing too much moisture into the mostly fattiness of the eggs. Same concept. Throwing tons of water into the mix of “noodles” and fat throws the expected results.
Here we are five paragraphs in, and I’m still talking about the spaghetti pie. Perfect, gluten-free, noodle-free, meat-free (if you like) spaghetti pie. On trial number two, there was zero doubt that it worked. I don’t think Steve or I came up for air until after we cleaned our plates on the first serving, and if you’re a home cook to any extent, you know silence is the ultimate praise.
Here’s the recipe for my mushroom marinara, which is awesome in this pie!
More recipes like spaghetti squash pie:
Note: The recipe was updated in January 2016 to fine tune the ingredient quantities and make the recipe (hopefully) easier to follow. The only major changes are slightly more squash, so the pie easily serves 6, and an additional egg for a firmer pie. If you’re trying to watch your egg intake, two eggs will work just fine!
- Butter, oil, or cooking spray for the pan
- 1 large or 2 smaller spaghetti squash (4 to 5 lbs.)
- Kosher or sea salt
- 2½ T olive oil
- 1 large zucchini
- 1 ½ oz. parmesan cheese
- ½ lb. mozzarella or fontina cheese
- 3 C chunky and/or thick marinara sauce (such as mushroom marinara)
- ½ medium onion, finely chopped
- 1 C ricotta cheese
- 3 eggs (2 works if you’re trying to cut back)
- Ground black pepper
- Fresh basil (optional)
- Preheat oven to 375 (F). Oil, butter, or spray a standard pie plate or 2 quart baking dish (for closer to 5 pounds of squash, use the 2 quart dish). Cut squash crosswise into four equally thick rounds and lay on a baking sheet. Sprinkle with salt (no oil) and bake for an hour, flipping over halfway through.
- Coat the bottom of a medium skillet thinly with olive oil, and heat thoroughly over medium high. Add all the zucchini that will fit in a single layer, and fry on one side for 3 to 5 minutes, until golden brown. Flip over and fry on the other side, remove to paper towels to drain, and sprinkle lightly with salt. Repeat the process, adding more oil to the pan as needed, until all the zucchini are fried. Set aside.
- Finely grate the parmesan and coarsely grate the mozzarella or fontina. For a very firm pie, place tomato sauce in a fine mesh strainer set over a bowl and stir once or twice, to drain excess water.
- Heat a teaspoon of oil in the skillet from the zucchini over medium heat. Add onion and cook 7 to 10 minutes, stirring occasionally, until softened and moderately browned. Remove to a large mixing bowl. When onions have cooled slightly, add half the parmesan, the ricotta, eggs, a teaspoon of salt, and ¼ teaspoon of pepper and stir together.
- When the squash is tender and has cooled slightly, run a fork around the inside of the rounds to shred it into “noodles”. Place squash in a colander over the sink or a bowl, and press out as much water as you can—there will be quite a bit! To really dry out the squash, spray the baking sheet with olive oil spray and spread the noodles in an even layer, then heat in a 250 degree oven for about 20 minutes. Add squash noodles to the ricotta mixture and stir to combine very well. Spread squash mixture into the prepared pie plate.
- Top squash with an even layer of fried zucchini, then gently spread all the sauce over the zucchini. Top with the fontina or mozzarella, the remaining parmesan, and a pinch of black pepper. Bake on a rimmed baking sheet (to catch overflow) at 375 for 30 minutes, until bubbly and cheese is melted. Increase oven temp to 425 and bake 10 more minutes, to brown the top layer of cheese. Cool briefly, then cut into slices and serve with freshly sliced basil.