Who doesn’t love pizza, y’all? I know in our house its a favorite. When Matt and I recently decided to try a bit harder to eat healthy, pizza was no longer on the menu. Womp, womp. I was craving some pizza, but knew I needed to make a healthier alternative. We are not eating any grains… a version of the paleo diet, but we will eat a bit of cheese or yogurt here and there. I hate to label it though bc we are not hardcore about it and I know lots of people are. Anyhow, I needed a dish that would help us stick to our healthy eating plan, but also satisfy my pizza craving. Luckily, being home for the summer means I have all kinds of time to experiment (cue mad scientist laugh… muah ha hah). And this is where the spaghetti squash comes in….
I love me some spaghetti squash. I love how I feel when I’m eating clean, and its fun finding new ways to make veggies delicious without feeling like I have to chomp on bunches of raw kale to be healthy. Spaghetti squash (and cauliflower too!) are great veggies for tricking yourself (or spouse or kids) into eating healthier without feeling deprived. Its a relatively new veggie in my repertoire, but I may just like it more than regular pasta… gasp! If you haven’t tried it yet, you should! This recipe is a perfect introduction.
A tip on cooking the spaghetti squash:
I like to bake mine whole for about half the time because it is so tough to cut, even with my sharpest, biggest knife! Baking it whole allows it to soften enough to cut it without as much effort. So throw the whole thing in the oven at 400°, bake it for about 25 minutes until you can pierce it with a knife, pull it out, cut in half, scoop the seeds out, put cut sides down in a shallow baking dish or sheet pan, and finish baking it for another 25-30 minutes with a bit of water in the pan to help steam it. Its done when it you can use a fork to scrape the insides easily, and they come out in strings (like spaghetti!).
Squeeze your squash!
My main concern with this dish was if the spaghetti squash would make the whole thing watery. Squash is 99% water (I just made that up), but seriously it had the potential to ruin everything. So once the squash was done baking and all scraped into a bowl, I wrapped it up in a dishcloth and squeezed a bunch of the water out. Nobody wants a soggy casserole.
Then fill ‘er up:
As far as what goes into the casserole, I just picked my fav pizza toppings… onions, peppers, mushrooms (to Matt’s dismay), yummy tomato sauce, and the turkey versions of pepperoni and sausage. Then a light sprinkling of cheese, baked until melty and bubbling, a shot under the broiler to get it nice a browned, and viola! all the pizza flavor without the guilt.
You can totally make this ahead of time and bake it right before you want to eat too. I usually double this recipe and freeze half so that it is twice the meal for once the work, yaknowwhati’msayin’? 🙂
Happy, healthy eating!
- 1 large spaghetti squash, baked, scraped and squeezed out
- olive oil
- salt and pepper
- 1 small sweet onion sliced
- 1 bell pepper (choose your favorite)
- 5 mushrooms sliced
- 1 lb turkey italian sausage
- 1 cup quartered turkey pepperonis
- 3 cups of tomato sauce
- ½ cup shredded italian blend cheese
- Put the cooked spaghetti squash strings in a large bowl and season with a drizzle of olive oil and salt and pepper.
- In a large frying pan brown the sausage and crumble. Once browned, place on a paper towel to drain, and then add to the bowl with the spaghetti squash.
- In the same frying pan (wiped out with a paper towel), sauté the onions, peppers and mushrooms in olive oil and season with salt and pepper. Cook until just softened. Add the veggies to the bowl.
- Stir in the pepperoni and tomato sauce and mix until everything is evenly distributed.
- Pour into an 8x8 casserole dish, and top with the cheese.
- Bake at 375° for about 20 minutes until bubbling and cheese has melted. For the last 5-10 minutes put it under the broiler on high until cheese is nicely browned.