Baked Spaghetti Squash Casserole

I wish I could come up with something more unique to call this dish but I seriously lack the creative juices. It may surprise some of my closer friends and family that despite my penchant for writing, I really struggle with creativity. I think that’s why I like to edit other people’s work more than anything. My writing here is about staying in touch with far-flung friends and family, and making connections with like-minded strangers who enjoy sharing information across this vast space we call the internet. Ask me to get creative and I just sit here writing and re-writing, banging my head for thoughts that just won’t come. So today I just push on and write and hope that my plain title doesn’t undersell this amazing meal.

This is something we (Don) concocted but it was inspired by a friend (thanks Diane!) who used spaghetti squash last month in a way we hadn’t imagined. This post isn’t going to play out like much of a recipe in the full sense of the word. This is more about the fundamental structure of the dish and the process. It is highly adaptable to your own blend of flavors, tastes, time available to cook, etc.

First, let’s talk about cooking spaghetti squash. When we first discovered spaghetti squash two years ago, we cooked it in the microwave. This is an option, and it’s the quicker option if you are pressed for time. One of the drawbacks we encountered with microwaving was that the squash was always very wet. We would strain it to try to remove as much water as we could before serving, but often our dishes were still runny. So one day, we tried roasting it instead. A vast improvement. But we still always strained the squash after scraping out the strands with a fork or tongs. Now, we’ve adapted our roasting process so that it comes out just right. We slice our squash in half, remove the seeds, brush with olive oil, and roast it flesh side down for 20-30 minutes at 375 degrees. After about 20 minutes, I check the squash by pressing on the outer skin with a finger. When it gives a little, feels slightly soft to the touch, we flip the squash over and continue roasting it for another 15-25 minutes. This helps dry out the excess moisture and gives the flesh a toasted look and flavor. The timing all depends on the size of your squash. The larger they are, the longer they tend to take. The one in the photos below took about 50 minutes total.

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Most people use a fork to remove the strands but I find that tongs work just as well.

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As you can see, we are still a little gun-shy about making sure our squash isn’t runny. We always still place it in a colander first, but in this case, that bowl underneath wasn’t wet in the slightest.

While the squash was cooking, Don put together a blend of fresh vegetables and spices. I decided late in the game that I should be taking pictures and getting it all down, so I don’t know what all is in that bowl. I can guess at a few things: onion, cherry tomato, garlic, mushrooms, bell pepper, jalapenos…maybe a few other things. This is where you can modify based on your taste. Use vegetables you like or have on hand.

baked-spaghetti-squash-casserole-veggies

We also browned two kinds of sausage…

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…and prepared our casserole dish by rubbing it with coconut oil. We also pulled out a jar of our own blend of tomato sauce with meat, previously canned.

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I began to see Don’s plan taking shape now.

Once the squash was done roasting, we combined it all in a large bowl and mixed it together well.

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As if this wasn’t already delicious looking enough, we then added fresh mozzarella.

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We baked it for 30 minutes at 350 degrees to bring it all together.

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Beautiful.

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So, to sum up. You can make a delectable lasagna like dish with spaghetti squash, a few veggies, some meat (for meat lovers), and your sauce of choice, whether fresh from home or store-bought. Just brown your meat, roast your squash, dice your veggies, mix it all together, and bake! Easy. Peasy. Maybe a little time-consuming, 60-90 minutes, but totally worth it.

Don’t eat anything your great-grandmother wouldn’t recognize as food.
~ Michael Pollan

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