Tuesday, January 23, 2007

Meaty Spaghetti Squash

This is one of my family's favorite meals--quite a feat since few of us really like (and several truly detest) squash of any kind.

You can cut up the veggies and cook the meat while the squash is baking, or you can do all the cutting, cook the meat and bake the squash ahead of time for a quick combine-and-heat dish that goes in minutes from refrigerator to stove. I like to use my food processor for the grating and dicing. It makes this dish surprisingly simple to put together.

I scrub and peel the carrots and zucchini, but if you use organic unwaxed produce you can leave them unpeeled for more nutrition.

I came up with this recipe by modifying the Savory Spaghetti Squash recipe from Casseroles (from the Eating Better cookbook series) by Sue Gregg. The original recipe calls for tofu marinated in a ginger/lemon juice/soy sauce mixture, along with a few other twists.


1 spaghetti squash
1 lb. italian sausage (I buy a safe uncured sausage made with just meat and fresh herbs at a local butcher shop [Butcher Boys' ground Italian or Breakfast sausage], or there are a few safe brands of chicken sausage available commercially.)
2 medium carrots, grated
1 medium zucchini (use 2 if they're small), grated
2 stalks celery, diced
1 clove garlic, diced
1/2 teaspoon salt

Wash the outside of the spaghetti squash. Bake the whole uncut squash at 375 degrees until tender--about 1 hour. Turn it occasionally during baking (at least once) to get it to cook evenly. (Alternatively, you can cut it in half, scrape out the seeds, and cook it cut side up with 1/4 cup water in the microwave, loosely covered, for about 7-8 minutes per half (you'll have to do one half at a time). Spaghetti squash can also be boiled whole.)

Allow the squash to cool a bit, then cut it in half and scrape out the seeds. If the squash doesn't seem quite done when you cut it open, just add the strands to the rest of the recipe a little early and cook it a bit more on the stovetop.

Brown the meat in a large frying pan or pot over medium heat, crumbling it as you cook. When the sausage is just barely done, drain all but about 3 or 4 tablespoons of the fat (I never drain the fat, but I should for a less watery dish).

Add all ingredients except the spaghetti squash and saute briefly, until the vegetables start to get tender. Use a fork to scrape the spaghetti squash strands from the shells and add them to the meat mixture.

Stir until everything is blended and heated through, then transfer to a casserole or serving dish and serve hot.

This can be made ahead and refrigerated or frozen, then reheated for serving. If you have the meat cooked in advance, reserve 3-4 tablespoons of the fat and saute the vegetables in it briefly first, then add the meat with the squash. Or you can use vegetable oil, but it won't be quite as flavorful.

Some sausages are spicier than others. If the recipe is too spicy for your family, try mixing the sausage with an equal part of unseasoned meat (I use ground beef if I get a particularly spicy-smelling batch of sausage) and using 1 lb. of the milder mixture in the recipe.

Serves 4 very hungry people as a one-dish casserole, or 6-8 moderate eaters with side dishes (a green salad would be a nice compliment to this meal).


a. borealis said...

Oooo! This sounds really nice. I just bought my first spaghetti squash and I'm really excited about seeing the inside of it.

I wondered what I should do with it, but now I think I might try this. I don't have any sausage, but I do have tofu, ginger, lemon juice, and soy sauce! Thinking about it, I don't have any zucchini either, but I bet parsnips would taste dandy in this.

Thanks for the unknowing advice!

purple_kangaroo said...

Parsnips would probably be good in it . . . I've also used bok choy (sort of like cabbage).

Here's the vegetarian version of the recipe, with the tofu marinade.

purple_kangaroo said...

Oh, and spaghetti squash is also really good with marinara sauce on it, like you would serve regular pasta.