Apparently this dish is a metaphor for who we are. The last time we ate it, Noel turned to me, a forkful paused en route to his mouth and said, “This is totally us” as if he’d had an epiphany. “How so?” I asked, intrigued by what deep insight he had to share. “It’s healthy, but not really.”  I’d prefer the term well-rounded, but yeah, I guess that’s basically us. Regardless, this dish checks off your goal to eat more veggies, but is so delicious that you’ll eat enough to avoid raiding the chocolate stash in the freezer 10 minutes after dinner. As a bonus, if your kids are anything like ours they’ll eat the “noodles” without any clue that they’re actually vegetables. Just don’t let your maniacal cackles give you away. Without proper planning, this dish can be difficult to make on your average weekday, so here’s my trick. Whenever I look at my dinner calendar at 4:45 to discover I’d planned Italian Style Squash for dinner, instead of kicking myself for not remembering to start it sooner, I quickly switch the meal for another, but still cut and cook the squash while I work on dinner Plan B. After the squash is cooked (and it doesn’t require a lot of attention), I wrap it in aluminum foil and put it in the fridge. That way when I look at the meal plan the next day at 4:45 I’m already halfway to having dinner made and there’s no need to panic.

Italian Style Spaghetti Squash

  • 1 spaghetti squash
  • 2 Italian sausage links or ~6 oz sausage
  • 1 can (15 oz) diced tomatoes
  • 1/2 tsp garlic powder
  • 1/2 tsp onion powder
  • 1/2 tsp dried basil
  • 1/2 tsp dried oregano
  • pinch of pepper flakes (optional)
  • salt, to taste
  • pepper, to taste
  • 1 C ricotta
  • 1 egg
  • 1/4 C parmesan, grated
  • 1/3 C mozzarella, grated
  1. Preheat oven to 400º F.
  2. Cut the spaghetti squash in half and clean out all the seeds and accompanying guts.
  3. Put the two halves cut side down on a rimmed baking sheet. Line with a silpat mat for easy removal and clean-up.
  4. Bake for 40-60 minutes until the squash is soft to the touch. Cooking time will vary depending on squash size.
  5. At this point you can either refrigerate the squash until you need it (up to a couple of days is fine) or continue to the next step.
  6. Preheat oven to 350º F.
  7. Brown the sausage and break it into bite sized pieces. Add the tomatoes, garlic powder, onion powder, basil, oregano, pepper flakes, salt, and pepper. Cook until the mixture is heated through, then set aside.
  8. Mix ricotta, egg, and about half the cheeses.
  9. If the squash isn’t already in the pan, get it there, hollow sides up. Spoon half of the sausage mixture into each squash then top with the ricotta mixture. Sprinkle remaining cheese over each squash. It’s okay if the mixture is close to spilling out of the squash. It will all settle down as it bakes. Cover gently with foil trying to tent it a bit so the foil doesn’t touch the cheese too much. 
  10. Bake for 30-40  minutes until the mixture is hot and bubbly. Switch the oven to broil and broil for a few minutes until the top is completely delicious and golden brown. (Make sure you’re keeping an eye on it as things can go from golden to charred pretty quickly.)
  11. Scoop servings out of the squash shell and dig in.

Written by Audrey

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