Today’s blog post is exciting for TWO reasons!
1.) As I mentioned in this previous blog post, my friend, Everyday Sarah Jane, is the person who inspired me to start blogging! She noticed my passion for cooking because I was forever posting pictures of meals I created on Facebook. One FB message changed everything and she suggested that I start blogging….and here we are!! This creative outlet has meant a lot to me and I wanted to try a recipe that she was raving about on her blog. Her original is here and she found it on a paleo-friendly website. Mine is sortakindanotreally paleo-friendly, especially once the cheese came into play. Don’t mind me. Paleo isn’t my thing. BUT you can definitely make this paleo — and it’s gluten free for those who have the gluten sensitivity 🙂
2.) I have never bought or used a squash before (insert my favorite emoji here of the monkey covering its eyes). My boyfriend really likes squash and I have felt like I’ve been depriving him for the last three autumns of our relationship. After banging on a couple of spaghetti squashes at the grocery store (no clue how to pick one out) and trying to figure out what color skin is ideal, I chose one and said to myself that I could do this. I will cook a squash. (It’s the little things sometimes, isn’t it?!) But I do feel like this is opening up new doors for me. I’m moving past my safe-zone of summer squash….which, frankly, doesn’t count 🙂
One thing that drew me to this recipe, apart from the fact that it would force me to challenge myself, was that it lent itself well to improvisation.
Sarah’s recipe was also incredibly seamless and user-friendly which I can definitely appreciate. As I serenaded myself to Lady Gaga while cooking, I could easily flip back to Everyday Sarah Jane‘s page and find my place in the recipe, without missing a beat. Literally. 🙂
This casserole isn’t going to cook itself now, is it?!
Spaghetti Squash & Sausage Bake
- 1 large spaghetti squash
- garlic powder
- salt and pepper
- olive oil
- 1 Vidalia onion, diced (feel free to use your favorite onion or shallot)
- 1 green bell pepper, diced
- 3 cloves of garlic, minced
- 1 lb. ground sausage (I used sweet, but feel free to use spicy)
- 1/2 c. cherry tomatoes, halved (optional — I had them left over from the other day and thought they’d go really well in here)
- 1 tsp. dried basil, 1 tsp. dried oregano
- pinch of red pepper flakes
- 1 c. marinara sauce (your choice — I used a cheesy one from Wegmans)
- 1 14oz. can diced tomatoes, drained (Sarah had recommended using the ones with garlic, tomatoes, and basil and I used those. You really can’t argue with extra flavor! I happened to find ones that are no salt added which I prefer! )
- 3 eggs, slightly beaten
- 1/4 c. fresh basil, chopped
- 1 c. Colby jack cheese, shredded
~ To begin, you’ll need to roast your spaghetti squash. Here is the one I chose. My first squash. This was quite a moment!!
~ Cut the squash in half lengthwise and scoop out the seeds. Be careful when you cut it in half — can be treacherous!! Sprinkle garlic powder, salt and pepper over the tops. Drizzle with olive oil and place in an oven that has been preheated to 400 degrees. Allow to roast for 30-35 minutes.
~ Remove from oven and reduce heat to 350. Allow the spaghetti squash to cool down so you can “spaghetti-fy it” (to use my friend’s terminology….I like it!! It’s a good word)!!!
~ While waiting for the squash to cool, prepare the rest of your filling. Warm more olive oil in a large saute pan. Add the chopped onion, bell pepper, and garlic. Allow them to cook together for a few minutes. These might be three of my favorite aromatics….dreamlike state while they cook <3
~ Time to add the sausage! Break it up as small as you can so it resembles ground beef (ground beef would also be good in this, too, I’d reckon…). Allow to cook until the meat is no longer pink.
~ Toss in the tomatoes if you choose to use them. Like I said, I happened to have some left over and wanted to utilize them in this meal. 🙂
~ Sprinkle in the dried herbs and add your heat. Add some more salt and pepper to taste…not too much salt, though…the sausage and cheese will give you enough salty flavor.
~ After this mixture cooks for a few minutes, stir in the marinara sauce and diced tomatoes. Warm through and turn off the heat.
~ Using a fork, scrape the squash out of the skin. It really does look like spaghetti! I was super surprised! But I guess they don’t call it spaghetti squash for nothing, right?!?
~ Add the beaten eggs and Colby jack cheese to the squash.
~ I had some fresh basil so I added that next….why not, right!??
~ Mix the lovely sausage and veggie mixture into the squash mixture. Turn it out into a prepared casserole dish. I sprayed an oval baking dish with olive oil spray.
~ Even out the casserole and allow it to bake for about an hour or until set. Serve with additional garnish of Parmesan cheese!!
~ Like Sarah said in her recipe — not the prettiest, but loaded with flavor!! So good and very versatile! I like that I can adjust this according to what I’m in the mood for and what I have around the house 🙂
I’m not scared of squash any more!!! 🙂 🙂