I’m a big fan of spaghetti squash but I don’t like it as a low-carb, pasta substitute—which is how it’s typically marketed this time of year. When I crave foods like Meatballs and Spaghetti, I want to have traditional Meatballs and Spaghetti—beefy meatballs simmered in a rich red gravy and served over some sort of “enriched macaroni product” like angel hair or thin spaghetti. Same for dishes like Baked Macaroni or Fettuccine Alfredo. I can’t and won’t do the swap out thing just to save a few calories or reduce my carb intake. Doing so will leave me cranky and longing for what’s missing.
When I prepare spaghetti squash, it’s because I want to eat spaghetti squash. I love the slight crunch and subtle sweetness of its translucent strands. When I’m short on time, I serve it as a quick vegetable side with nothing more than a touch of olive oil, chopped garlic and grated Parmesan cheese. When I’m not rushed, I like to turn it into a meal by tangling it up with spicy sausage and fresh spinach—we New Orleanians love cooking veggies with sausage and other flavorful meats and fresh seafood. Over the years, I’ve made this dish with both regular Italian sausage and the turkey Italian and I prefer the turkey Italian. It doesn’t bury the mild flavor of the squash and it keeps this dish homey, hearty and, coincidentally, quite healthy.
Roasted Spaghetti Squash with Italian Turkey Sausage and Spinach Recipe
1 spaghetti squash (about 4 pounds)
3 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil, divided
1 pound Italian turkey sausage (sweet or hot), casings removed
1/2 cup finely chopped onions
2 garlic cloves, minced
4 cups fresh spinach, stemmed
1 1/2 teaspoons dried oregano leaves
1 teaspoon red pepper flakes
1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
Salt and pepper
Preheat oven to 375 degrees F. Place whole squash on a foiled-line baking sheet and roast until tender when pierced with a knife, about 1 hour 15 minutes, turning halfway through cooking time to prevent squash from burning on the bottom. Meanwhile in a large saucepan over medium-high heat, heat 1 tablespoon olive oil. Add sausage, onions and garlic and cook, breaking up sausage with a potato masher or the side of a spoon, until browned, 10-12 minutes. Add spinach and cook until just wilted. Remove from heat and stir in oregano, red pepper flakes, cayenne pepper and reserved 2 tablespoons olive oil. When squash is cool enough to handle, halve lengthwise and scoop out and discard seeds and membranes. With a fork, scrape squash strands from shell and add to sausage mixture. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Makes 4-6 servings.