February 21, 2012

Spaghetti Squash with Mushrooms and Sausage


When I was a kid, my mom tried to pull the whole, spaghetti-squash-as-real-spaghetti thing.  Her intentions were good, obviously, but she figured if she had told us what it really was, we would have turned our noses up (she was right).  So, she served it with marinara sauce and just kept quiet.  Well, we figured it out, and from then on I decided spaghetti squash wasn't for me.  Give me pasta, or give me squash, but don't give me squash pretending to be pasta!

Here's where I think people go wrong with spaghetti squash.  They try, like my sweet mama, to pass it off as a healthy alternative to carb-loaded pasta, but, spaghetti squash isn't spaghetti.  It just isn't.  It's stringy, like spaghetti, but that's pretty much all it has in common with the stuff. 


It is, however, delicious in its own right.  It doesn't need to be spaghetti!  Once I got over the fact that it wasn't trying to trick me, I embraced it.  Spaghetti squash isn't tricky, it's just squash.  And it's wonderful.

Spaghetti squash for all. 

I started this recipe by roasting a spaghetti squash.  I don't have pictures of this part, because I'm silly, but I took a sharp paring knife and poked holes all over the squash, then roasted it in the oven for about an hour and 20 minutes.  I took it out of the oven and let it sit until it was cool enough to handle, then cut it in half and scooped out all the seeds.  I shredded the flesh with a fork so it came off in strands (like spaghetti, but don't be fooled!)

Meanwhile, I browned some chicken sausages on all sides.


When they were brown, I took them off the heat, sliced them up, and returned them to the pan.


Once the sausage had cooked through completely, I added a package of sliced baby bella mushrooms.


I let those cook for a couple of minutes, then seasoned with salt, pepper, and a little pinch of red pepper flakes.


When the mushrooms and chicken sausage were finished cooking, I added some chopped fresh sage and the flesh of the spaghetti squash right into the pan. 


I seasoned it again with salt and pepper and added some freshly grated Parmesan cheese.  


I served it up in a bowl with some added Parmesan cheese on top.  Kind of like pasta.  But it's squash!  


The verdict?  Spaghetti squash is delicious.  Maybe it was the transparency of the recipe (I knew I was getting spaghetti squash and not spaghetti, because, you know, I cook for myself these days) or maybe it was the copious amounts of Parmesan cheese and that fresh sage, but this was to die for.  


It was flavorful and the texture was delightful.  I loved the addition of chicken sausage to add more protein and flavor, and the mushrooms were wonderful.


And talk about light!  Spaghetti squash is only, like, 42 calories for a cup of cooked squash. I said I wasn't going to compare this to spaghetti, but if I were, in the health department, spaghetti squash would clearly win.  Bottom line, this is a healthy dinner that doesn't sacrifice taste.


Here's the recipe!

Spaghetti Squash with Mushrooms and Sausage 

Ingredients
  • 1 Medium spaghetti squash (about 3 1/4 pounds)
  • 1 package of chicken sausage, Italian flavored
  • 1 package of sliced baby bella mushrooms
  • 1 teaspoon olive oil
  • salt 
  • pepper
  • Pinch of red pepper flakes (I used a very, very small amount.)
  • 3 tablespoons chopped fresh sage
  • 1/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese, plus more for serving
Method
  1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees.  Using a sharp paring knife, prick the squash all over.  Place on a baking sheet and roast for 1 hour and 20 minutes, flipping half way through.  Remove from oven and let cool until you can comfortably handle it.  Slice the squash in half and remove the seeds.  With a fork, shred the flesh into long, spaghetti like strands.  Set aside.
  2. In a large skillet over medium high heat, add cooking spray and add chicken sausage links.  Brown on all sides, then transfer to a cutting board.  Slice sausage and return to skillet.  Continue to cook until sausage is completely cooked through.  Add olive oil at this point and mushrooms and cook for 5 minutes.  Season with salt, pepper and a small pinch of red pepper flakes.  Add fresh sage.
  3. When the mushrooms have cooked down, add spaghetti squash and season again with salt and pepper, then carefully toss to combine.  Add cheese and toss again.
  4. Serve in bowls with extra Parmesan cheese on top.
Enjoy!

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