The word Florentine pretty much just means some kind of dish with lots of creamy spinach in it. Everybody has a different way of making the classics, but for me it all started with an Eggs Florentine dish that I’ve made so often I can make it in my sleep.
First there’s a bed of spinach with a creamy bechamel, (otherwise known as white sauce where I live) which is topped with perfectly poached eggs. Then depending on the season, you can add anything else you’d like. My favorite is juicy garden tomatoes with fresh basil.
But creamy spinach is too good to leave just to breakfast, so thought it was about time that I branched out into some sort of dinner dish. And like most of my recipes, this one evolved from what I happened to have on hand, (which obviously includes spaghetti squash that I impulse bought, and didn’t have a plan for)!
This recipe comes together in 2 parts which makes it perfect for entertaining because you can make it ahead of time.
First you cook the spaghetti squash until tender…
… and while it’s cooking you make your creamy spinach sauce.
Then once the spaghetti squash is mixed into the sauce…
… you stuff it back into the spaghetti squash boats/shells. And at this point you can refrigerate them until you’re ready to serve, (or up to 2 days). Or you can top them with cheese right away, and bake until they’re all bubbling and piping hot.
Just like the Eggs Florentine I make, these spaghetti squash boats are really good with fresh tomatoes and herbs as a topping, but they’re equally good just as they are. We have a few precious pounds of tomatoes left from my last garden harvest, and I’ve been savoring every last one of them by putting them into every meal until they’re gone!
And one last addition that’s really nice is adding a tablespoon of chopped fresh rosemary in after the onions cook along with some chopped chicken, (I happened to have some grilled chicken in the freezer and it was really good in this).
- 1 spaghetti squash, 2½ - 3 pounds
- 1 Tablespoon butter
- 1 medium onion, cut into ½" dice, 2 cups
- 4 cups washed baby spinach, 4 ounces
- 1 cup of milk
- 1½ Teaspoons tapioca starch mixed with 1 Tablespoon of water
- Sea salt to taste, I used 1½ Teaspoons
- ½ Teaspoon freshly ground pepper
- ½ cup freshly grated parmesan
- 1 cup grated mozzarella cheese, 4 ounces
- sliced green onions
- chopped basil or cilantro, see notes about additional herbs
- chopped fresh tomatoes
- Preheat the oven to 400ºF and line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
- Using a sharp knife, carefully split the spaghetti squash in half lengthwise and scrape out the seeds. Place each half face side down on the parchment paper, and bake until tender, about 30-35 minutes. When the squash is tender, remove it from the oven and using an oven mitt to hold the squash halves, scrape out the insides with a fork being careful not to burn yourself. (You can also wait until they cool enough to hold them by hand, but that takes about 45 minutes.)
- While the squash is baking, make the sauce by placing a large saucepan over medium heat. When the pan is hot, add the butter and diced onion. Cook until the onion is translucent and tender, about 10 minutes. Then add the baby spinach and cook just until barely wilted, 2-3 minutes. Add the milk and tapioca starch mixed with water. Increase the heat to bring the mixture to a boil. When it thickens, remove it from the heat and season to taste with sea salt and pepper. Stir in the parmesan and set the creamy spinach aside.
- When the spaghetti squash is done and has been scraped out of it's shells, mix the squash with the creamy spinach mixture, and season to taste with sea salt and pepper again. Spoon the mixture back into the spaghetti squash shells, and top with the mozzarella.
- Bake the squash again at 400ºF until the cheese is browned and it's piping hot and bubbling, about 20 minutes. Serve immediately.
- If you have leftovers they reheat really well.
If you want to make these ahead of time, prep them right up to the step where you put the spaghetti squash mixture back into the shells, but don't top it with the grated mozzarella. Place the filled shells into a baking dish, cover, and refrigerate for up to 2 days. When you're ready to bake them, top with the mozzarella and bake at 350ºF until hot and bubbly, about 45 minutes.
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