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Tuesday, June 3, 2014

Healthy Spaghetti Squash Casserole

 
So, there's sort of a long intro story to how this recipe and meal idea came about. To spare you the boring details, I'll summarize:
 
My Froworker (friend + coworker) Finley lives a Paleo/Primal lifestyle. She's been harping (in a good way) on the amazingness of spaghetti squash from the beginning. I, having the palette of a 5 year old, am always nervous to try new vegetables...especially those that go around impersonating my beloved. (pasta!)
 
She told me of this basic recipe that she made for her friends and I decided to make it for M and I. Below is my first attempt at cooking spaghetti squash and the delicious result that ensued. Also, M is a self-professed squash hater...and he LOVED this. Let's not talk about the fact that he still probably doesn't know that this was actually squash because I may or may not have just said "it's a healthy gluten-free spaghetti casserole"...cleverly omitting the word "squash". It's semantics, really. :)



Ingredients:
1lb. lean ground beef (or I guess you could use turkey)
3/4 lb. Italian sausage (I used mild...because I'm a wimp)
1 package (2 cups) of part skim mozzarella cheese
1 jar of your favorite pasta sauce (I used one that was gluten-free)
1 spaghetti squash



Step 1 - Prep  and cook spaghetti squash
I consulted my Froworker Finley (henceforth, Fro Fin...because it's funny), for her best advice on cooking these suckers. Though most people recommend oven baking, ain't nobody got time fo dat. So, I took her advice of cooking in the microwave and it worked perfectly! Take a large knife and poke some holes/slits in the squash to vent, then place in a microwave-safe dish and microwave for 13 minutes. (your time may differ based on your microwave wattage) About halfway through the cooking, I flipped the squash so that one side wouldn't get all hard and flat. (True story - it happens to my baked potatoes all the time!)

 
Step 2 - Sauce preparation
Fro Fin is also Italian. She tells me all the proper names and pronunciations for things. Like she told me that a red sauce with meat in it is called a ragu. Who knew? I just called it a meat sauce. A ragu sounds much better. Note: A ragu technically has other ingredients in it like celery, onion, wine, etc. Mine didn't have that, but by all means add to yours to increase the deliciousness.
 
Crumble your beef AND Italian sausage together in a pan and brown. Drain the meat and add your jar of pasta sauce. Combine and let simmer over low heat while you prepare your squash. While you're by the oven, preheat it to 375 degrees.




Step 3 - Prepare the squash!
This took a little trial and error since it was my first time preparing a spaghetti squash, but it turned out well. At first, I was trying to pick out the seeds one-by-one, saving as much of the "spaghetti" part as possible. That took forever. Ultimately I decided on the method below.
 
Slice your squash in half and carefully (because this sucker is HOT!) scoop out the center "guts" with the seeds. These look similar to pumpkin seeds. Don't worry about trying to save the squash parts around the seeds...you'll have plenty to use from the rest of the squash. Take a fork and start scraping down the sides and the squash will start to break off like spaghetti noodles. This is my favorite part. It's like spaghetti magic.

 
Keep scraping! You'll be surprised how much you can get out of this squash!
 

All the squash that's scraped should be put into a 9x13 pan or casserole dish. It will look like the above picture. (or should...I think)


Step 4 - Mix & Bake
Add in your "ragu" sauce and mix thoroughly. Flatten out in the pan with the back of a fork. Note: Fro Fin recommends an egg or two here to help it be more "casserole-y". I did not have said egg whilst making said casserole, so mine was eggless. It turned out pretty tasty so you could always add an egg here OR live on the edge like me!
 
Spread your shredded mozzarella evenly across the top of the dish and put in the (now preheated, hopefully) oven. I left mine in there for about 15 min. It was just enough to melt the cheese and make the insides bubbly.
 

Look at that deliciousness! It's healthy, gluten-free and low carb! I can't wait to experiment with the spaghetti squash even more. If you know of any delicious spaghetti squash recipes, please share!

[Because I hate when recipes are spread out with photos and not condensed, here is the condensed recipes without photos...easier when you're trying to cook and look at your phone/tablet.]
________________________________________________________________
Healthy Spaghetti Squash Casserole

Ingredients:
1lb. lean ground beef (or I guess you could use turkey)
3/4 lb. Italian sausage (I used mild...because I'm a wimp)
1 package (2 cups) of part skim mozzarella cheese
1 jar of your favorite pasta sauce (I used one that was gluten-free)
1 spaghetti squash


Step 1 - Prep and cook spaghetti squash
Take a large knife and poke some holes/slits in the squash to vent, then place in a microwave-safe dish and microwave for 13 minutes. (your time may differ based on your microwave wattage) About halfway through the cooking, I flipped the squash so that one side wouldn't get all hard and flat. (True story - it happens to my baked potatoes all the time!)

Step 2 - Sauce preparation
Crumble your beef AND Italian sausage together in a pan and brown. Drain the meat and add your jar of pasta sauce. Combine and let simmer over low heat while you prepare your squash. While you're by the oven, preheat it to 375 degrees.
 
Step 3 - Prepare the squash!
Slice your squash in half and carefully (because this sucker is HOT!) scoop out the center "guts" with the seeds. These look similar to pumpkin seeds. Don't worry about trying to save the squash parts around the seeds...you'll have plenty to use from the rest of the squash. Take a fork and start scraping down the sides and the squash will start to break off like spaghetti noodles. This is my favorite part. It's like spaghetti magic. All the squash that's scraped should be put into a 9x13 pan or casserole dish.
 
Step 4 - Mix & Bake
Add in your "ragu" sauce and mix thoroughly. Flatten out in the pan with the back of a fork. Note: Fro Fin recommends an egg or two here to help it be more "casserole-y". I did not have said egg whilst making said casserole, so mine was eggless. It turned out pretty tasty so you could always add an egg here OR live on the edge like me!
Spread your shredded mozzarella evenly across the top of the dish and put in the (now preheated, hopefully) oven. I left mine in there for about 15 min. It was just enough to melt the cheese and make the insides bubbly.  

2 comments:

  1. You did a great job cooking your first spaghetti squash. I seriously buy one about every other week and it feeds me for a whole week. A lot of the time, I'll cook the squash (using your same microwave method) one night and then let it cool and scrape it and put it in the fridge. Then I'll saute it with whatever ingredients (sauce, chicken, veggies, cheese) I have fresh each night so it's not like I'm eating leftovers, but it's quicker cause I'm not having to cook the squash each night.

    ReplyDelete
  2. This looks great! I love spaghetti squash but could never imagine life without pasta.

    ReplyDelete

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