Growing up, I was extremely fortunate to have a mother who loved to cook. Weeknight dinners were pretty much non-negotiable and every night come six o'clock, my family of four would gather around the kitchen table for a warm, made from scratch meal. My love for cooking was definitely inspired by my mom. She was my first exposure to seasonally appropriate cooking, eating a balanced diet full of fresh and whole foods, and the idea that cooking something delicious did not have to be complicated. Looking back, her recipes stick out to me as warming, hearty, and filling; meals perfect for fall.
To combat the characteristic damp cold that is settling over Vancouver home for the next six months or so, I'm all of a sudden craving foods filled with warm, earth-heavy and rich flavours, gravitating towards squashes, stews, and other foods that give me the added bonus of warming my kitchen as they cook. In light of all of this, I reached out to my mom this week and grabbed a recipe from her that was a standard in her fall and winter rotation.
Originally a vegetarian recipe, I decided to switch things up and add ground pork (hope you like it, mom!). I find that ground pork is greatly underutilized and that customers at the markets are often unsure of how to use it outside of a meatloaf or meatball recipe. Ground pork is such a versatile and economic choice when it comes to our pastured pork products. Pairing well with eggs, pasta sauces, stuffed squashes & other vegetables, burrito bowls, burgers, soups, dumplings, and so much more, ground pork should not be forgotten about.
Paring the ground pork with spaghetti squash, earthy mushrooms and a generous dose of cheese, this recipe is filled with flavour, incredible easy, and perfect for a cold day. Hope you enjoy!
2. Saute onions and garlic with salt, pepper, mushrooms, and herbs.
3. When onions become soft, add chopped tomatoes and ground pork. Cook until pork is cooked through and most of the liquid has evaporated.
4. Combine all ingredients. Pour into oiled 2 qt casserole dish.
5. Top with lots of grated parmesan or cheese of your choice. Bake uncovered at 375F for 40 minutes.
What I love about this recipe is it's flexibility. My style of cooking is far from rigid and I often use recipes as flavor profile inspirations rather than concrete rules. In this line, I suggest using this recipe as a guideline, tweaking it based on your preferences and what you have around the house. For this particular rendition of the recipe, I substituted parmesan for the other cheeses (it's what I had around the house).
Dairy Free: Substitute dairy-free cheese, withold dairy completely, add nutritional yeast
Gluten Free: withhold bread crumbs
Vegetarian: Substitute pork with extra mushrooms and tomatoes