Monday, November 12, 2012

Baked Spaghetti Squash w/ Sweet Italian Sausage {12 Weeks of Winter Squash}

Up until last week, it had been years since I'd eaten Spaghetti Squash.  Probably at least 15 years.  No joke.  And really, I'm not even sure why.  I always think about picking one up.  I just never actually do it.  Funny thing is, this may be the one squash that everybody in my house will eat.  If only I had picked one up before, I could have been adding this to my family's autumn and winter repertoire.  {sigh}  Live and learn.

It may have something to do with the fact that it's combined with some of our favorite things like a red sauce laced with roasted garlic, fennel-studded Italian sausage, and melty, bubbly cheese.  I mean, those things can't hurt.  I am not going to claim that your kids will mistake it for spaghetti, however, if they are a fan of it, they just might give this semi-look-alike a chance.  Mine happened to devour it.  Which is a good thing, but that means that I had no leftovers for lunch the next day.
So, spaghetti squash may become a new obsession.  I can see it happening.  Isn't it funny how a certain food or ingredient can sneak under your radar for so long?  I remember liking this before, but now I wonder why in the world I didn't love it fifteen years ago like I do now.

Baked Spaghetti Squash w/ Sweet Italian Sausage

by Heather Schmitt-González
Prep Time: 20-30 minutes
Cook Time: 45-50 minutes
Keywords: bake entree nut-free squash sausage Spaghetti Squash American fall winter

Ingredients (serves 4)
  • 1 medium-large spaghetti squash
  • ½ lb. sweet Italian Sausage
  • 1 small onion, diced
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • ¼ tsp. fennel seeds
  • ¼ tsp. crushed red chile flakes
  • 1 egg
  • 2 c. red sauce (homemade or storebought)
  • 1 c. ricotta cheese
  • 2 tsp. Italian seasoning
  • 1½ c. shredded mozzarella cheese, divided
  • salt
  • freshly ground black pepper
  • freshly grated Parmesan cheese
Instructions
Preheat the oven to 350° F. Spray 4 (10 oz.) ramekins with cooking spray; set on a baking sheet.

Using a thin-bladed, sharp knife, poke the spaghetti squash about ten times. Microwave for 10-12 minutes, turning over a couple of times throughout the process. It is done when the skin looks loose and wrinkly. Remove from microwave and cut in half lengthwise. Carefully scoop out the seeds with a large spoon.

While the squash is cooking, add sausage to a skillet over meat heat and cook, stirring occasionally, until golden and cooked through. Add onion and garlic to pan and saute until onions are soft and translucent, ~3 more minutes. Add fennel seeds and crushed red chile and cook, stirring, for another 30 seconds to one minute, or until fragrant.

Using a fork, scrape your spaghetti squash into strands. You should be left with just the skin. Transfer the strands to a colander set over the sink and allow the moisture to drain off while you move on to the next step.

Combine sauce, ricotta, egg, 1 cup of the mozzarella, and Italian seasoning in a large bowl. Season with a bit of salt and pepper. Fold in the spaghetti squash until evenly distributed.

Place approximately an eighth of the squash mixture into the bottom of each prepared ramekin. Divide the sausage mixture evenly over that layer. Spoon the remaining squash mixture as evenly as possible to form a top layer in each ramekin. Grate a little bit of fresh Parmesan cheese over each ramekin and then divide remaining mozzarella over the tops.

Slide the baking sheet with the full ramekins on it into the preheated oven and bake for 45-50 minutes, or until cheese is melted and bubbling around the edges. Remove from oven and allow to cool for 5-10 minutes before serving (it will be extremely hot on the inside).

adapted from Cooking with My Kid
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So enough about me and my re-kindled relationship with Spaghetti Squash, how about my talented 12 Weeks of Winter Squash co-host?  Have you stopped by Joanne's place, Eats Well With Others, to see what she made this week?  Plus, we want to see what you're doing with winter squash in your kitchen lately.  Please share your links here (or there - same difference...)!



1. Baked Spaghetti Squash w/ Sweet Italian Sausage

2. Thai Tofu and Winter Squash Stew

3. Curried Kabocha Squash Flatbread

4. Beef and Pumpkin Mole Chili

5. Creamy Butternut Squash Soup

6. Homemade Pumpkin Pie

7. Roasted Pumpkin Galette

8. Braised Beef with Barley and Autumn Flavors

9. Squash with Okra and Green Beans

10. Mac & Cheese Stuffed Squash

11. Indian Inspired Curried Pumpkin and Chickpeas

12. Kabocha squash and ricotta pierogi

13. Pumpkin Bread Pudding

14. Kale, pumpkin and black bean enchiladas

15. Pumpkin Patch Stuffed Shells