Low Carb Weeknight Supper: Spaghetti Squash Bake
Are you feeling a bit pudgy? Had too much sourdough bread? Spaghetti Squash Bake may be just the thing for your dinner. The spaghetti squash cooks in minutes in the microwave and has a delicious, delicate flavor. You bake it briefly with Parmesan and mozzarella cheeses before adding a sauce and more cheeses. The initial brief baking period helps dry the squash a little and keeps the bake from being excessively runny. I use a ground turkey meat sauce for the bake, but you can use whatever you prefer. Even the jarred stuff from the grocery store will work if you're tight on time. The bake makes a great weeknight meal--especially if you cook the squash and spaghetti sauce in advance when you have time (like between zoom meetings) and refrigerate them. The squash bake then is quick to put together, and it packs vegetables and proteins into one dish. Serve the bake with a salad and, if you're not feeling too pudgy, some crispy garlic bread or Parmesan Garlic Buns (see the recipe on the blog).
Spaghetti Squash Bake -- Serves 4+
1 medium spaghetti squash
1/2 cup of grated Parmesan cheese, divided
1 1/2 cups of shredded mozzarella cheese, divided
1/2 teaspoon of basil
Salt and pepper, if you like
4 cups of your favorite spaghetti sauce (or see recipe below)
Coat a medium, deep casserole dish with nonstick cooking spray. Pierce the squash in 3-4 places with a sharp knife, place the squash on a microwave-safe plate, cover the squash with a paper towel, and microwave the squash for 7-10 minutes or until a knife slips into it easily and the outside of the squash seems a little squishy/has some give to it. Let the squash cool so that you can handle it. Split the squash, remove the seeds and membrane, and with a fork, pull the squash shreds from the skin of the squash. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. Place the shreds into the prepared casserole dish. Add 1/4 cup of the Parmesan, 1/2 cup of the mozzarella, and the basil, plus a little salt and pepper if you like. Toss the spaghetti squash shreds with the cheeses and basil until everything is well mixed. Bake the spaghetti squash mixture for 10 minutes or until bubbly. While the squash bakes, heat the spaghetti sauce in the microwave until hot. Remove the squash from the oven, sprinkle 1/2 cup of mozzarella evenly over the top of the squash, then pour on the spaghetti sauce evenly. Sprinkle on the remaining 1/4 cup of Parmesan and the remaining 1/2 cup of mozzarella. Return the casserole to the oven for about 30 minutes or until the Spaghetti Squash Bake is bubbly and the cheese has browned. Let the bake sit for at least 10 minutes to firm up before serving it.
Ground Turkey Spaghetti Sauce -- Makes Extra (for real spaghetti, etc., later)
2-3 teaspoons of canola oil
1/2 a large onion, chopped
1/2 cup of chopped or shredded carrot
2-3 ribs of celery, chopped (about 1/2 cup)
16 ounces of lean ground turkey (93 percent)
1 teaspoon of salt
1/4 teaspoon of pepper
2 teaspoons of Italian herb seasoning
1 teaspoon of dried basil
1 28-ounce can of crushed tomatoes
1 14.5-16-ounce can of diced tomatoes (Italian style is good)
1/2 cup of red wine
In a large skillet or chef's pan, heat the oil over medium-high heat until shimmering and add the onion, carrot, and celery. Saute the vegetables for 5-8 minutes or until they begin to soften. Crumble in the ground turkey and sprinkle on 1/2 teaspoon of salt and the pepper. Saute the vegetable-turkey mixture until the turkey is cooked through--about 10 minutes--turning down the heat to medium after about 5 minutes. Stir in the Italian herbs and basil. Add the crushed and diced tomatoes and the wine. Stir the mixture well, reduce the heat to medium low, and partially cover the pan. Let the sauce simmer for 15-20 minutes or until the vegetables are soft and the sauce has thickened to your liking.