Parmesan Spaghetti Squash with Italian Sausage

THK Spaghetti Squash2

If you’ve never tried spaghetti squash, this is your day! This is the recipe that makes people who’ve never ventured a nibble of spaghetti squash wonder how they shamefully wasted so many years of spaghetti-squash-eating-opportunities. No kidding. Gretchen and I have both watched it happen!

It’s. That. Good.

It’s the kind of recipe that gets passed from friend to friend to friend with murmurs of “Oh, my gosh! You’ve really gotta try this! You won’t believe it!”

It’s.

That.

Good.

Oh – and if you’ve already fallen in love with spaghetti squash, then you’re probably going to wanna kiss us both. (Gretchen and me. Not the squash and me, although I guess it’s really up to you.) Regardless, we just can’t wait for you to try this, no matter how many other ways you’ve eaten spaghetti squash before. Know why? Oh, come on! You know why …

IT’S! THAT! GOOD!

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Doesn’t really even look like spaghetti, you say? Just wait … We’ll get there …

Now, all you spaghetti squash newbies need to know something right up front: despite what you may have heard, it truly doesn’t taste “just like spaghetti”! It tastes like … well … itself. Like spaghetti squash (go figure!). And you’re gonna love it!

My version is loosely inspired by the recipe my mother-in-law uses. (I begged her for it, and she’s always so nice to share – gotta love a good mother-in-law!) She wheedled the recipe out of a dear friend of hers who, for years, has been the head cook for the Presbyterian House, an inn at the Chautauqua Institution in New York. No idea where it came from before that, but I do know where this recipe is headed next … your dinner table! (Please, please invite me over …)

So how about a little spaghetti squash primer to get you started?

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The hardest part here involves, you, a sharp knife and a little scuffle with the squash’s tough skin. Use your biggest knife, your fiercest determination, and a bit of caution (we like you with all those fingers!). Slice the squash laterally all the way around. (Whew! You did it!!)

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Then scrape away the seeds and membranes just like you’re hollowing out your jack-o-lantern.

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A little brush of olive oil and a sprinkle of some salt and pepper, and you’re ready to get cookin’!

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There are several ways to cook a spaghetti squash, and you may have seen recipes that involve roasting or even steaming (my mother-in-law’s version of this recipe actually calls for roasting). But I wanted to give you a quicker, easier option that doesn’t require firing up your oven. The microwave does a beautiful job here!

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While the microwave is working its magic, you just need to give some garlic and onions a quick sauté, add turkey sausage and then some tomatoes and seasoning. So easy!

By the time your squash is done, your sauce will be ready, and dinner will be on the table in a flash!

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“But wait,” you say (a tiny bit of trepidation in your voice) … “How on Earth will I know if my spaghetti squash is ready?” No worries! Simply press it gently but firmly with your thumb. If you can make an indentation in the flesh – it’s done! If not, just cook it for a few more minutes and try that thumb trick again.

Now, for the magic of making spaghetti-like strands (that do not taste “just like spaghetti” – see above :D …). This is actually pretty cool, so if you have kiddos, or easily impressed friends, now would be a great time to gather them ’round.

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You can either let the squash cool a bit until you can comfortably handle it with your bare hands (if you’ve got that kinda free time) or just use a hot mitt and get to it! Holding the squash firmly with one hand, scrape the flesh gently with the tines of a fork. It should fall easily away in gorgeous, golden strands! Ta-da!

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Once you’ve scraped out your squash, all it needs is a little salt and parmesan before being topped with the delicious sauce you just created.

You know what I’m gonna say …

It’s. That. …

Oh, you get the idea!!! Enjoy!

THK By Shelley

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Show of hands (or … well … leave a comment below!): who’s tried spaghetti squash before? And if so, what’s your favorite way to make it?

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Parmesan Spaghetti Squash with Italian Sausage
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Yield: About 6-8 cups, depending on the size of your spaghetti squash
 
Ingredients
SPAGHETTI SQUASH:
  • 1 spaghetti squash (3½ – 4 pounds)
  • 1 teaspoon olive oil
  • ¾ teaspoon kosher salt, divided
  • ⅛ teaspoon black pepper
  • ¼ cup parmesan cheese (grated or shredded)
SAUSAGE SAUCE:
  • 1 teaspoon olive oil
  • 1 cup diced sweet onion (about ½ a large onion)
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 12 ounces sweet Italian turkey sausage
  • 2 14.5-ounce cans petite diced tomatoes, drained
  • ½ teaspoon oregano
  • ½ teaspoon kosher salt
  • ⅛ teaspoon black pepper
  • ⅓ cup chopped fresh basil
  • extra basil and parmesan for garnishing, if desired
Preparation
  1. Split squash in half lengthwise and remove seeds and membranes with a spoon. Brush the flesh of each squash half with ½ teaspoon olive oil, then sprinkle with ¼ teaspoon salt and a pinch of black pepper.
  2. Place squash, skin side up, in a 9×13 glass baking dish. Microwave on full power for 15-20 minutes, until tops give under pressure when gently poked. Let sit about 10 minutes until cool enough to handle (or handle with oven mitts), and then use a fork to shred squash into a large serving bowl. Add parmesan and remaining ¼ teaspoon salt and stir into squash just until combined.
  3. Meanwhile, while squash is cooking, heat 1 teaspoon oil in a large non-stick skillet over medium heat. Saute onion and garlic until onion is beginning to soften, about 3-5 minutes, stirring often so garlic doesn’t burn.
  4. Add sausage and cook until no longer pink, stirring to crumble. Add tomatoes, oregano, ½ teaspoon salt and ⅛ teaspoon black pepper and simmer until heated through.
  5. Remove from heat and stir in basil.
  6. Pour sausage mixture over spaghetti squash and serve, garnishing with extra basil and parmesan if desired.
Notes
As it sits, spaghetti squash tends to get a little watery. You’ve got a couple of serving options to deal with that. You can always just spoon up the squash and sausage sauce, leaving the watery little puddle behind in the bottom of the bowl. Secondly, you can give the whole dish a good mix, stirring the strands of squash and the liquid right in with the sausage sauce. This definitely doesn’t make for such a lovely presentation, but it tastes just as fabulous and incorporates the squash’s liquid right back into the dish as part of the sauce.

 

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Comments

Parmesan Spaghetti Squash with Italian Sausage — 39 Comments

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    • Well now is your time!! Seriously, this recipe is fantastic! The spaghetti squash with just the parmesan and olive oil is delicious on it’s own – but once you add the sauce with the tomatoes and Italian turkey sausage – it’ll blow your mind!! SO GOOD!!!
      Hope you try this – and love it!! Please stop back and let us know how it turned out! :) ~G&S

  4. Ok, Gretchen, you were right! Microwaving the spaghetti squash is so easy and just as tasty as baking it. (I was unconvinced this morning when I spoke to Gretchen at a PTO meeting. Then, when I didn’t have much time to prepare dinner, I dove right in and put my trust in Two Healthy Kitchens!)

    Since I didn’t have tomatoes, I flavored the squash with a touch of maple syrup. It tasted so yummy with the spicy Italian sausage.

    • Awwwww … thanks for trusting us, Sue! We’re normally huge fans of roasting veggies, as it just brings out such wonderful flavors (hint … hint … roasted veggie recipe coming up SOON!), but this is one recipe where you really can slash prep time by using the microwave … and still get great results! LOVE the idea about the maple syrup, too – gotta try that! :D ~G&S

    • Hi, Lori! I hope you do give this a try – you’ll love it! We invited one of my husband’s colleagues for dinner tonight, and when I asked my hubby what he wanted me to make, this is the dish he requested! It’s such a hit at my house! :D ~Shelley

  5. Oh Yum!! I always scrape it out, but I love how you have it pictured with the sausage sauce inside. Nice presentation :D My newly married friend just made some for her husband, a meat and potatoes only kinda guy, and he loved it. She was so happy and now he loves something he didn’t think he’d ever eat. lol

    • You know, just the other day (when I’d made this meal for the umpteenth time) my husband said something pretty much just like your friend’s hubby: “This is just not the type of thing I’d normally think I would like, but I just love it!” So many people are surprised by how much they really like spaghetti squash once they’ve tried it – I’ve seen it time and time again! ~Shelley

    • Awww, thanks, Aunt Sandy! So … I guess I’m not the only one who conned Chrissy into sharing her recipe, huh!?!?!? It’s even more legendary than I thought! I truly do love her version, but there were so many steps, plus the time needed for roasting – I think you’ll find this has all the flavors you loved but is a much quicker version that’s perfect for hurry-up nights when you don’t have much time! Hugs! :D ~Shelley

    • Oh, Kiersten, I was so hoping you would give a vegetarian version of this a try! Yay! :D Veggie sausage should work beautifully! Depending on how your vegetarian sausage is seasoned, you may need to add in a bit of Italian spices or an Italian seasoning blend to give your version some of the flavors that the turkey sausage would provide. Let us know how it goes! ~Shelley

  6. Shelley, this looks awesome! I’ve never cooked with spaghetti squash before, but this makes me really want to try it. It looks so delicious and flavorful! I love all the photos!

    • Oh my gosh, Kristi! You’ve totally gotta try spaghetti squash! Trust me on this! And thanks for your compliments on the pics – that’s ALL Gretchen! I just stand around holding white cards at awkward angles and poking stray crumbs off the plate for her – she’s totally the photography wizard! ~Shelley

  7. i love spaghetti squash…mostly bc its a lot better for you than pasta and you can eat a crap ton of it and not even feel bad about it at all haha…thanks for the recipe! ill pin this one. i NEVER made your chocolate pb balls.. the one with the cashews…even tho i bought all of the ingredients. i need to do this. i need a healthy snack to come home to instead of reeses cups lol ill do it tomorrow night…for once i have no plans and am just relaxing alone at home…. you need that every once ina while.

    • Hi, Christina! I thought you’d like this recipe! And it’s so funny about you buying all the ingredients to make the PB Snack Bites and then still not getting around to it – I do stuff like that all the time! Be careful, though – once you make them you’ll get all addicted … then you’ll have to make the Cookie Dough Bites … then you’ll be gunning for the Tropical Snack Bites … Believe me – they’re so good and keep you so energized without getting hungry! (Well … until you get to cookin’ up that spaghetti squash, and then you might get a teensy bit hungry and start drooling a little)! :D Have a super-awesome, relaxing weekend with the uber-adorable Riley! ~Shelley

    • Oh, Consuelo! I’m so sad for you! I really, really wish you could try this because (having seen all the wonderful stuff you eat!) I know you would love it! I’m actually kinda starting to keep a mental list of all the things you are totally gonna try when you come visit me (you are, right?!?!?) – so far spaghetti squash and Pink Lady apples are tops on the list! ~Shelley

    • Hey, Abbe! Thanks so much! And seriously – if you’re already in love with spaghetti squash (and sausage!!) this is totally your new best friend! (But yeah – we’re taking full credit for introducing the two of you! :D ) ~G&S

    • Oh, Sharon, you’ve totally got to try this! Once you taste how delicious spaghetti squash can be, you’ll be hooked! So, so good! And glad you liked the tips – squash is really so easy to prepare – it only seems daunting until you’ve done it once! ~Shelley

  8. You can cook spaghetti squash in different ways, cut up or whole, by baking, boiling, microwaving, or even in a crock pot. It’s the feel good comfort food of the season.
    The Italian Sausage is a nice twist!

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