Valerie Bertinelli’s Vegetarian Bolognese with Spaghetti Squash Is a ‘Lighter Take on an Italian Classic’

Even if you’re not a vegetarian, Food Network star Valerie Bertinelli’s vegetable Bolognese with Spaghetti Squash is a welcome meal when you want to keep your plate lighter than usual. Here’s the actor and popular television cook’s earthy, nutty, lusciously filling recipe.

Valerie Bertinelli promoted her then-new cookbook 'Valerie's Home Cooking' in 2017
Valerie Bertinelli promoted her then-new cookbook ‘Valerie’s Home Cooking’ in 2017 | John Lamparski/Getty Images

What you’ll need for Bertinelli’s Bolognese with Spaghetti Squash

For this vegetarian recipe (full ingredient quantities can be found here), have on hand one spaghetti squash, olive oil, garlic, carrots, celery, onion, mushrooms, zucchini, milk, red wine, crushed tomatoes, fresh basil, red pepper flakes, a piece of Parmesan cheese rind, as well as grated Parmesan cheese.

“This is an easy vegetable Bolognese with spaghetti squash,” Bertinelli said in the Food Network video for this recipe. “The mushroom is what really makes it kind of give it that meat flavor because these are very earthy and a really great substitute for meat.

“We’re using all of our senses while we make today’s recipe. Just take a moment to smell your food, to listen to your food.”

Get Bertinelli’s Bolognese sauce started first

Preheat your oven to 400 degrees F.

The garlic, carrots, celery, and onions are placed in a food processor and “as evenly as possible” pulsed into a pea-sized consistency. The vegetables are sauteed in the oil and then the mushrooms and zucchini are now placed in the food processor and, again, pulsed. The mushrooms and zucchini, which at this point resemble ground meat, are placed in the skillet with the other vegetables.

Bertinelli offers instruction on paying attention to the sounds from the pan: “You can really hear the difference in the sizzles. Some sizzles are gentle, some sound like water, some sizzles are more aggressive.”

Once the water has evaporated from the vegetables and they’ve softened, “you’ll know that it’s getting closer to being done” and the rest of the ingredients can go in the pan.

The television personality explained that in traditional Bolognese, milk is included, “so we’re going to add half a cup and let that all mix together. You can hear how it’s really bubbling up.”

The Parmesan rind (“This adds flavor that is so great”) is cut and placed to the side. When it’s added in, it will lend the dish its “nuttiness and saltiness that Parmesan brings.” Crushed tomatoes now go in (“so I don’t have to cut them up myself”), changing the sauce’s consistency and giving it more body. Salt and chili flakes are added (“that’s going to really add a nice kind of depth of flavor”) and now the Parmesan rind is “tucked” into the sauce, which will “thicken the sauce even more if you can believe it.”

Now it’s time to prep your spaghetti squash

While the sauce simmers and thickens, the spaghetti squash is cut open lengthwise, seeded, sprinkled with olive oil, salted, peppered, and placed in the oven to roast for “about 40 minutes.” Bertinelli’s trick for getting the most of your spaghetti squash? “Turn them upside down so as they roast, steam will help soften the meat inside.”

The squash’s “meat” is easily pulled out with forks and plated. “You have spaghetti,” Bertinelli said. “Nature’s spaghetti!” Now the Parmesan rind is removed from the sauce, which is ready to be ladled over the spaghetti squash.

Get your daily dose of vegetables with Bertinelli’s delicious and light take on Bolognese sauce.

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