A Southern Grace: too many tomatoes?

May 19, 2015

too many tomatoes?


I submit that there is no such thing! Guess how many tomato plants we have in our garden...and scattered all around our house wherever we could find a sunny (and in some cases, not so sunny) spot in the ground for them! Guess!

49. Forty-niners. Sure, that's a totally reasonable number if you're talking about an acre or two of land, but we live in suburbia and have only a fraction of an acre on which to work. We may be up to our noses in garden goodies in a few months (I hope!), so if you notice that I've become MIA in July and August, I'm probably drowning in tomatoes and you should send help immediately. Seriously though, we love tomatoes and would be elated to see all of these plants bear fruit, even if it means dedicating one of the rooms in our house to cans and cans (and more cans) of stewed tomatoes, tomato sauce, pasta sauce, and salsa.

Tuttorosso Tomatoes recently teamed up with Ali Maffucci, the author of Inspiralized: Turn Vegetables into Healthy, Creative, Satisfying Meals*to create some light and delicious Italian-inspired dishes. This dish you see before you might not be so light, but it is delicious, and it's a great use for that jar of pasta sauce beckoning you from your dining room pantry.

*Who has two thumbs, lots of veggies, and really wants a spiralizer? This girl! It's definitely the latest craze, and I, for one, get filled with envy when I see all the fun zoodle creations and curly sweet potato fries that my fellow bloggers are spiralizing. So much fun! Even though I haven't been a kid for a year or 20, I can still appreciate new and exciting ways to incorporate more vegetables in the diet.

I think it's well established that pasta, cheese, and meaty tomato sauce can combine in just about any manner and be hearty, filling, comforting, and delicious, and this particular dish is a fine representation of those qualities. It's quick and easy to make, freezes beautifully (and therefore makes a great option to take to a new mom or anyone else in need of ready-to-go dinners), and leaves you feeling satisfied and happy. I used Tuttorosso pasta sauce for this recipe, and while it's a fabulous option, I hope to be using our tomatoes (nourished with our very own sweat) this time next year!

Baked Spaghetti with Squash (not to be confused with Baked Spaghetti Squash)
Serves 6-8
  • 8 ounces uncooked thin spaghetti
  • 1 egg
  • 1/2 cup milk
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 pound ground beef or turkey
  • 1 small onion, chopped
  • 1 medium zucchini, sliced or shredded (or spiralized, if you're lucky enough to own a Spiralizer®)
  • 1 (24 ounce) jar Tuttorosso traditional pasta sauce
  • 1 cup water
  • 1 cup cottage cheese
  • 1 cup shredded mozzarella cheese
Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Spray a 13x9-inch casserole dish with nonstick spray. Cook spaghetti according to package directions.
In a large skillet, cook beef and onion over medium heat until meat is no longer pink; drain.
Stir in the pasta sauce and water. Cook for 10 to 15 minutes or so while you make the pasta.
Add the pasta to boiling water and cook, uncovered, at a rolling boil, for 5 to 6 minutes, al dente. Note that the pasta will continue to cook and absorb some of the sauce when it is in the casserole dish in the oven, so the pasta should be al dente. When ready, drain the pasta and rinse in cold water.
Place the cooled pasta in a large bowl. Beat together the egg, milk, and salt and add it to the egg mixture and toss to coat.
Spread 1 cup of the sauce over the bottom of the casserole dish, then place half of the pasta in an even layer on top of that.
Cover with half of the remaining sauce, then dot the sauce with all of the cottage cheese.
Sprinkle half of the mozzarella over the cottage cheese layer, then layer again with the remaining pasta, the remaining sauce, and the remaining mozzarella.
Cover with foil and bake for 30 minutes. Remove the foil and bake an additional 5-10 minutes uncovered. Remove from oven and let rest for at least 10 minutes before cutting into squares and serving.


Valerie Harrison (bellini) said...

I just loved baked spaghetti squash and this loks like a winning combination.

Angie's Recipes said...

That looks very comforting and delicious!

Rosa's Yummy Yums said...

Scrumptious and comforting! A great dish.



Gerlinde de Broekert said...

Having so many tomatoes makes me envious. My friend always shares his bounty with me. We made some wonderful tomato sauce last year. Your baked spaghetti looks delicious.

Pam said...

My stomach is rumbling after seeing this. Serious comfort food!

pam said...

You are going to be drowning in tomatoes!

Alicia Foodycat said...

Lucky you with the tomatoes! We've given up trying - we got blight and blossom end rot 4 years running.

Carolyn Jung said...

Definitely no such thing as too many tomatoes. Not in my book! I can't get enough of them, especially in salads and pasta dishes like this.

Juliana said...

I have never had baked spaghetti...and it sure looks great Grace...awesome meal!
Hope you are having a wonderful week :)

Lorraine @ Not Quite Nigella said...

We don't get spaghetti squash very easily here but I've had it and it's great! Of course we're going into winter so tomatoes are fading from view quickly! Send us any extras won't you Grace? ;)

Unknown said...

I am quite jealous of your tomato situation. Wish we had the room in our postage stamp-sized back yard and quite frankly the water to have home grown tomatoes...nothing tastes better!

I've not tried baked spaghetti with squash. (Baked spaghetti squash is a fave in our kitchen.) Looks like a very comforting meal!

Tania| My Kitchen Storie said...

49 tomato plants that's just not fair. I struggled to get 2 to grow this year. I am sure you would laugh if you saw them. I have someone at my house who would eat that pasta in a heartbeat. Its nearly Christmas I predict you will get a spiralizer

Lisa-Marie said...

This looks delicious! I'm with you. Never too many tomatoes. Yum!

Unknown said...

Ooo,I am a real tomatoholic and the combo in this meal is just too good to resist. Sort of reminds me of a spaghetti-lasagna dish. Real comfort food.... with your fav glass of wine!

Pam said...

Woo hoo with all the tomato plants! Growing up, we always had that many, but now, way too many trees where we live and not enough sun for in the yard for a garden. Great dish you made, it looks yummy!

Big Rigs 'n Lil' Cookies said...

I am really looking forward to your summer update on "Tomato Central"! Your recipe sounds delish, and with that small amount of zucchini, husband probably wouldn't even notice it :)

Beth said...

That's a lot of tomato plants! I'm glad you can put them to good use. With or without a spiralizer, your dish looks terrific.

Joanne said...

I have a strict: THE MORE TOMATOES, THE BETTER POLICY. So bring on the pasta!

Marcela said...

so good! I love tomatoes! I can't live without them!

Barbara said...

I envy you your tomato crop! This casserole looks fabulous, Grace. More cheese, please!

Marjie said...

We all love tomatoes here. But I'm not sure even all 11 of us could consume all of the tomatoes from 49 plants. Search and rescue stands at the ready, to save you from drowning in tomatoes! Your pasta looks good, too.

dedy oktavianus said...

Nope, there's such things too may tomato for my licking...
Dedy@Dentist Chef

I Wilkerson said...

If you get buried in tomatoes later, just remember that they can be popped into a zip loc and frozen, without blanching or anything. When they thaw the skins slip right off and you can use them just like you'd use canned tomatoes. Saved me in my big tomato year ;-)