Spaghetti squash is a worthy substitute for pasta when combined with marinara, sausage and cheese. Karen Schneider / For The Forecaster

Spaghetti squash is a staple at my house, often incorporated into an entrée when I have a craving for Italian food. The vegetable’s texture and ability to take on other flavors make for a flexible base for casseroles of all types when you would normally use more caloric pasta.

Karen Schneider cooks and writes in the village of Cundy’s Harbor. You can reach her at [email protected]

I rarely purchase salad dressing, preferring to make my own, and at a weekend yoga retreat, I discovered this unusual salad dressing. After topping my greens with it, I wanted to find a vessel for this creamy elixir just so I could drink it.

If you don’t keep buttermilk on hand, simply stir 1 1/2 teaspoons of white vinegar into the half cup of milk. Another buttermilk substitute for this recipe is to stir together 1/3 cup plain yogurt or sour cream with 1/4 cup water.

This dressing will keep for up to 10 days in the fridge, but there’s no way it will last that long. You’ll want to pour it onto all your greens. It also makes a delicious dip – just leave out the water for a thicker consistency.

As you know, I have a thing for lemony treats and have recently discovered Lemon Blondies. A lot less fuss than lemon bars or lemon meringue pie, these lush, squidgy squares (do not overbake!) whip up in a hurry and can be glazed or not. These are the perfect spring dessert and will pack well for the picnics and cookouts that are just around the corner!

Spaghetti Squash with Sausage

1 (3-pound) spaghetti squash
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 small onion, chopped
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 pound Italian sausage, removed from casings
1 teaspoon oregano
1 1/2 cups marinara sauce
8 ounces mozzarella cheese, shredded
Salt and pepper to taste
1/4 cup Parmesan cheese
1/4 cup bread crumbs


Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Line a sheet pan with parchment paper. Slice spaghetti squash in half lengthwise. Scoop out seeds then place cut side down on the pan.

Bake for 45 minutes or until squash flesh separates easily into strands with a fork. Remove all the “spaghetti” strands from the rind. Set aside to cool slightly in a colander, pressing out any excess moisture with the back of a large spoon.

Place a large sauté pan over medium heat and warm olive oil. Add onion and garlic and cook until soft, about 1 minute. Add sausage, breaking it into pieces with a spatula. Sauté until browned and cooked through. Drain off drippings if needed.

Add spaghetti squash strands, marinara and oregano to the pan and heat through.

Season with salt and pepper. Place one-third of the mixture into an oiled 2-quart casserole dish or baking pan. Place one-third of the mozzarella on top and continue to layer. Top with Parmesan cheese and bread crumbs. Bake at 375 degrees until bubbling and browned on top, about 30 minutes. Yield: 4 servings

Creamy Italian Dressing

1/2 cup buttermilk
1/2 cup sour cream
1/2 cup canola oil
1/3 cup cottage cheese
2 tablespoons water
1/2 tablespoon red wine vinegar
1 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon pepper
1 teaspoon minced garlic
1 teaspoon dried onion flakes
1 teaspoon oregano
1 teaspoon dried basil
Pinch of ground cardamom


In a blender or food processor, blend ingredients until smooth. Yield: 2 cups

Lemon Blondies

1/2 cup butter, at room temperature
3/4 cup white sugar
2 large eggs
1 tablespoon lemon zest
2 tablespoons lemon juice
1 teaspoon vanilla
3/4 cup flour
Pinch of salt

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line an 8-by-8-inch baking pan with parchment paper.

In a large bowl, cream together butter and sugar on medium speed with an electric mixer until light in texture and color, about 2 minutes. Beat in the eggs, one at a time, mixing well after each addition. Mix in lemon zest, juice and vanilla.

Mix in flour and salt until just combined and smooth. Pour batter into prepared pan and smooth the top.

Bake 23-25 minutes or until a tester comes out clean. Remove from oven and allow to cool completely in the pan before glazing.


1 cup powdered sugar
1 tablespoon lemon zest
2 1/2 tablespoons lemon juice

Combine sugar and lemon juice, stirring until smooth. The glaze should run off a spoon easily. Pour over cooled blondies, spread it over the top completely. Gently jiggle the pan back and forth after spreading to even out the glaze. Allow the glaze to set at room temperature, about 30 minutes. Once the glaze is set, lift the blondies from the pan and cut into squares. Yield: 16 squares

Comments are not available on this story.