I had a spaghetti squash that had been sitting on my counter for over a month. (Did you know they can last for 1-3 months?) I was getting kind of tired of looking at it (wasn’t doing much for the decor of my kitchen counters) so I decided it was time to find a new and creative use for it. On this day I also happened to have a pound of fresh Italian sausage from one of my favorite local farmers in the fridge so off I went to Google to search, “spaghetti squash italian sausage.” This is pretty much my go-to method for finding recipe inspiration.
I found a recipe on Epicurious (which you know is one of my most favorite and trusted sources) for Spaghetti Squash with Sausage Filling that looked appealing. It was originally published in Bon Appetit in 2008 and had 129 four-fork reviews and 96 perfect of people said they’d make it again. That’s a winner in my book. The recipe featured a short ingredients list and I happened to have everything on hand for it. The ingredients list was so short, in fact, that I decided to take some creative liberty with the stuffing mixture and bulk it up by adding more veggies and spices.
The result was a delicious combo of spaghetti squash, Italian sausage, veggies and marinara sauce that made for a wonderful dinner. This recipe is actually Paleo and Whole30 friendly if you skip the sprinkle of parmesan on top and be sure that your Italian sausage and marinara sauce have no sugar added. It was so good that I had to make it again this week just so I could photograph it and share the recipe with you guys!
Here’s a step-by-step guide to making spaghetti squash magic.
Here’s our lineup. Spaghetti squash, onion, Italian sausage, bell peppers, garlic, mushrooms, red pepper flakes, marinara sauce and spinach. I had mini peppers on hand so that’s what I used but when I type out the recipe I’m going to call for one regular sized pepper. Note, you could definitely sub chicken or turkey Italian sausage here but just make sure it’s fresh and not the pre-cooked stuff.
Prep the veggies by getting everything chopped up. I always take a moment to admire the pretty colors.
Cut the spaghetti squash in half and scoop out the seeds using a big spoon.
I loved the cooking method that Bon Appetit recommended for the spaghetti squash. Once you cut it in half, you wrap it in plastic wrap and then cook them one at a time in the microwave. This cooking method was much more successful for me than trying to microwave an entire spaghetti squash. The one time I tried that I had a massive explosion and never got brave enough to do it again. Note, if you’re not down with plastic wrap or the microwave, you can cook the squash in the oven. I use this method.
While the spaghetti squash is cooking, sautee the onions, mushrooms, peppers and sausage in a large skillet. Once the veggies are soft and the sausage is brown, you add the garlic and spinach.
Remove from heat and add the marinara sauce and red pepper flakes. If spicy isn’t your thing, leave the red pepper flakes out.
Carefully unwrap the spaghetti squash and use a fork to pull out the squash.
You want to get most of the squash out but leave enough so that the shells won’t fall apart when you stuff them.
Add your spaghetti squash to the meat, veggie and sauce mixture.
And stir until the squash is covered in the sauce and the veggies and meat are incorporated throughout.
Divide the mixture between the two shells and bake. If you’re going the Paleo/Whole30/Dairy-Free way, skip the cheese.
Otherwise, give it a sprinkle of parmesan before you pop it in the oven. Cook until heated through and then top with fresh herbs if you have some on hand. Not necessary but definitely adds a nice pop to the flavor. I used basil and parsley from my herb garden.
This is a great dish for leftovers and also a great dish for sharing! I delivered half of this last batch to a friend of mine along with a salad and some fresh fruit. It’s also a great dish for prepping ahead. You can get the filling made and the squash stuffed and then hold them in the fridge until you’re ready to cook.
Give it a try! I also bet this would be a great way to sneak more veggies to kids. The filling tastes amazing and super spaghetti with meat sauce-ish!
Stuffed Spaghetti Squash with Italian Sausage and Veggies
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Stuffed spaghetti squash with Italian sausage and veggies. Easy and can be prepped ahead. Gluten-free and option for Paleo and Whole30.
- A 3-4 pound spaghetti squash
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- 1 pound bulk Italian sausage (not links)
- 1 large bell pepper (any color), chopped
- 1 medium onion, chopped
- 1 cup mushrooms, sliced
- 2 cups spinach, chopped
- 2 large garlic cloves, minced
- 2 cups purchased marinara sauce (make sure there is no sugar added if you're going Paleo or Whole30, I like the Whole Foods 365 Organic Marinara)
- 1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes, more or less to taste (optional)
- 1/2 cup grated parmesan cheese (optional)
- Salt and pepper, to taste
- Fresh basil and parsley (optional)
- Preheat oven to 400 degrees.
- Cut squash in half and scoop out the seeds. Wrap in plastic wrap and cook one at a time in the microwave on a plate until tender. Depending on your microwave, this will take anywhere from 7-12 minutes, start checking it around 6 and add a minute or two based on how it's feeling. I also flipped mine halfway through cooking. Once you remove them from the microwave, poke a hole in the plastic wrap to let steam escape and let cool.
- In the meantime, heat the olive oil in a large pan and saute the sausage, peppers, mushrooms and onions together over medium-high heat until veggies are soft and sausage is browned. Add the spinach and garlic and continue to took about another minute and then remove from heat. Stir in marinara sauce and red pepper flakes.
- Use a fork to pull the squash out of the shells but leave the shells intact by leaving a little squash around the edges. Mix the squash into the sausage mix and season to taste with salt and pepper. Divide the filling between the two shells and place in a baking dish or on a baking sheet.
- If you're using cheese, sprinkle each half with 1/4 cup parm before baking. If not, put them straight in the oven. Bake uncovered for about 20 minutes or until heated through. You'll have to go longer with the cooking time if the squash has been in the fridge. To serve, cut the squash half in two and place on a plate.
Recipe adapted from Bon Appetit.