Thursday, 8 July 2010

Pumpkin, Ricotta and Facon Spaghetti Bake

Last week the doctor said that Sylvia was too sick for childcare so I needed some sturdy meals to see me through some days at home with a sick grizzly child. I decided to try Helen’s Sicilian Spaghetti Cake. It was made easier to put together because Sylvia insisted on staying outside playing in her favourite pots of dirt.

Deciding what to include was made easier in an unexpected way. I was thinking about what to include instead of bacon and perusing the comments on Helen’s post. There was my own suggestion of pumpkin that I had forgotten. (So next time you are wondering if you should comment on a post, here is one reason to do so!) I decided to make facon out of tempeh and add some parmesan for some of the intensity that would have been found in the bacon. I was pleased to be able to use a lemon and some baby silverbeet from the garden.

My version was remarkably different to Helen’s. Hers was a round spaghetti cake filled with lemony ricotta, bacon, olives and artichokes. Mine was a roasting pan bake with roasted pumpkin, sun dried tomatoes and facon, which all fused with the ricotta to give it a wonderful flavour. I didn’t find the need for the generosity with olive oil that Helen encouraged, which may be due to the different ingredients I used.

It was only when we ate that I found the taste familiar and identified it as similar to a macaroni cheese that I had posted a few years ago. However, this dish had different flavours and was less heavy. I think the facon was essential in replacing the saltiness in the bacon, even though it made the dish a little more complex. I am yet to find a perfect facon recipe as I just can't work out how to get it as crispy as bacon, but I will keep searching.

The best surprise was that Sylvia loved it. She now rejects a lot of food I make for dinner. But she loves spaghetti and enjoyed shoving the long wriggly strands in her mouth, especially when she grabbed them off my plate. I hoped that some of the vegetables and facon stuck to the pasta but I think that kids are often as sneaky as parents when it comes to food.

The pasta bake lasted for a few nights as well as doing very well for the odd lunch and night time snack. It reheated well but Sylvia got less and less enthused each night we had it. Not to worry. E loved it and I was grateful to have the delicious leftovers at the end of a few tiring days.

I am also sending this to Helen of Fuss Free Flavours for this week’s Presto Pasta Nights (#171), the event coordinated by Ruth of Once Upon a Feast.

Previously on Green Gourmet Giraffe:
This time last year: Breakfast Burritos – My Way!
This time two years ago: Miss Marple’s Tea Room – cosy charm
This time three years ago: Mexicale Pie - an old favourite

Pumpkin, Ricotta and Facon Spaghetti Bake
inspired by Food Stories
serves 8
  • 700g pumpkin, trimmed, peeled and cut in chunks
  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • pinch salt
  • 500g uncooked spaghetti
  • 1 tsp olive oil
  • 2 medium onion, finely chopped
  • 4 cloves of garlic, finely chopped
  • handful baby silverbeet, finely sliced
  • 250g ricotta cheese
  • A generous handful of parsley, chopped
  • juice of one lemon
  • 2 tbsp olive oil for mixing
  • 1 bunch basil, roughly chopped
  • ¾ cup frozen peas
  • 1 cup finely grated parmesan cheese
  • 1 batch of facon, as below (or use some fried shop bought facon)
Toss pumpkin with olive oil and pinch of salt in a roasting dish and bake at 220 C for 30 minutes or until soft.

Cook the spaghetti til it is a little less cooked than you would like. I simmered mine for about 8-9 minutes in a large stockpot because it is far more pasta than I usually would cook.

Fry onion in 1 tsp olive oil for about 10 minutes till golden brown. Add garlic and silverbeet and fry another 1-2 minutes.

Mix together pumpkin, onion mixture and remaining ingredients then add cooked spaghetti and toss so it is coated evenly with the ricotta mixture. Coating the spaghetti is not easy because there is so much and it loves to clump together but using a spiked spaghetti serving spoon and mixing in my stockpot helped me.

Scrape all the spaghetti mixture into a greased roasting dish – I used the same one that I roasted the pumpkin in (but cleaned it first). Bake at 220 C till crispy and brown on top.

Facon (Tempeh bacon)
adapted from Diet Dessert and Dogs and Vegan Brunch
  • 300g tempeh
  • 2 cloves garlic, crushed
  • 1 tbsp maple syrup
  • ½ tsp smoked paprika
  • 3 tbsp soy sauce
  • 1 tbsp lemon juice quarter lemon
  • 1 tbsp olive oil
Slice tempeh into wafer thin slices and place in a large plastic tub. Toss with remaining ingredients and marinate for about 45 minutes (or more if you get organised), giving a good stir every now and again. Arrange slices in a large roasting try and bake until most of the moisture has been absorbed. I baked mine for 15 minutes at 180 C and then for 15 minutes at 220 C. I always live in hope of crispy facon but have only managed to get good flavour but not the right texture.

On the stereo
What I did on my holidays: an introduction to…:
Fairport Convention


  1. Oooh, I remember eating a 'fak'n bacon' tempeh product in America that was rather nice, but I never considered making it myself. You're always reminding me of the ways I should be a better person ;)

    Really sorry to hear it's still been a rough few weeks for you. Still, there was probably a time in my life too when I liked dirt more than food :D

  2. Ooh clever! A recipe for facon! I must give that a go and see what it's like! :)

  3. YUM YUM YUM! Pumpkin....ricotta....basil = PERFECT!!!

  4. Lovely! I like the idea of a spaghetti bake

  5. i love baked pasta, but my husband hates it so I very rarely make it.

  6. What a tasty looking dish! Of course I'll be waiting for a much cooler day to try my hand. Thanks for sharing with Presto Pasta Nights. I'm bookmarking it right now.

    Do hope the littele angel is better by now.

  7. I recently tried tempeh and didn't like it so as good as your facon looks I'm still scared of it! The spaghetti bake looks delicious though. I forget how good, simple and easy spaghetti cakes can be yum!

  8. I hope Sylvia is feeling better. The spaghetti bake looks amazing. My mouth is watering and I loved what you served with it too. Mmmmmmm :p

  9. Thanks Hannah - the facon I have made is so unlike the facon that I have bought - but it is quite fascinating to me to try making it so I know it is not just full of nasty chemicals (though possibly better than dirt) - I am not sure it makes me a better person - unless more curious and more timewasting makes me so!

    Thanks Lorraine - would love to hear the results of your trials with facon - there are lots of recipes about but I have yet to find a go-to recipe for it

    Thanks Lisa - that is holy trinity isn't it (or maybe it should be)

    Thanks Anh - seems perfect for our cold weather

    Thanks Maybelle's mom - that is a shame - I understand that when one of you dislikes a food it appears less on the table for everyone

    Thanks Ruth - Sylvia is much better - though fussy as ever about her food

    Thanks Ashley - the best tempeh I have had is orange glazed tempeh - to be honest I think smoked tofu is better than tempeh texture-wise when replacing bacon as it gets crispier

    Thanks Jacqueline - yes sylvia doing better - and I partly serve a lot of broccoli and corn because sylvia will often eat them if she doesn't like other things I cook

  10. Oh my does this sound DELICIOUS! I love anything that has anything to do with pumpkin and this is really no exception. And to think I have a block of tempeh sitting in the fridge...

  11. Your version looks delicious! I am craving those crispy top bits of spaghetti now. I found myself sneaking back over and over again to pull bits off.

  12. Sorry Sylvia wasn't feeling well! That is hilarious that you rediscovered your own comment on the blog! ;) Your spaghetti bake does look yummy. Re: tempeh bacon, you really, REALLY have to cook it a long time, and cut it very thin. . . doesn't always work out so easily. :)

  13. OMG - this looks delish!!! Put pumpkin into anything and I am there. I laugh at that, because I hated pumpkin as a kid.

  14. I can just imagine Sylvia "slurping" up that spaghetti! It looks delicious and I love your personal "twist."

    Thanks for sharing, Johanna...


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