Spaghetti squash, true to its name, can sub for most pasta recipes. This recipe is no exception. It’s a riff on lasagna, or other baked pasta dishes, such as the Greek pastitsio. Ground meat is the central protein here, though firm, crumbled tofu or crumbled tempeh, both cooked in the recipe as the meat, could substitute.

You can adapt the recipe to a specific culinary destination–ground lamb, feta, oregano, for Greek; ground beef, basil, mozzarella, Italian; or just go global fusion and use what you have on hand…

I made this with 4 c of squash strands–if you have more or less, adjust other ingredients as necessary, or not. Also, depending on your choice of cheese, and if you go with the olives, you may not need much salt.

1 medium spaghetti squash, or 4 cups of squash strands
1 lb ground meat, or equivalent alternative
1 T vegetable oil, optional
1 c chopped onion
1 – 2 bell peppers, seeded, ribbed, and chopped
3 – 4 cloves garlic, minced
1 T dried herb, one kind or a combination of herbs
salt and pepper, to taste
2 – 3 c grated or crumbled cheese, plus extra for optional topping
2 c tomato sauce
1/2 c olives, optional

1. Preheat oven to 350°F. Make several stabs into the squash, put on a baking sheet and roast for about an hour, until a knife goes in easily. Or, cut squash in half, scoop out seeds, and lay, cut side down, on said baking sheet and roast for about 40 minutes or so, until the knife tests. Or, lay squash halves cut side up, drizzle or spritz with some oil and roast until tender. Allow to cool. Using a fork, scrape along the insides of the squash halves, liberating the squash strands. Transfer to a colander and allow to drain some. If you’ve roasted the squash whole, you’ll have to, of course, halve the squash and scoop out the seeds first. Thie squash can be roasted ahead of time; just refrigerate until ready to use.

2. If necessary, preheat oven to 350°F. Grease an 8-inch square baking dish, or a 9-inch x 13-inch baking dish, other suitable casserole dish. If using tofu or tempeh, heat oil in a large skillet. Otherwise, cook meat for about 3 minutes or so. Add onion and bell peppers and cook, stirring, for about 5 minutes. Add garlic, dried herb(s), salt, and pepper, and cook for a few more minutes. Set aside.

3. Put half the squash strands in the bottom of your casserole dish. Spread half the meat mixture over, followed by half the cheese, then half the tomato sauce. Repeat. Strew olives over the top if you wish, and sprinkle more cheese over, too, if you like. Bake until hot and bubbling, about 30 minutes. Let sit for at least five minutes before serving.