Dinner tonight: Squash'n it! Quick Spaghetti Squash with Bolognese


In the past when I've tried to use spaghetti squash as a stand in for pasta, I've been like, spaghettaboutit! However I just learned how to cook it properly, and now I'm sold! This spaghetti squash bolognese is very doable for a quick and nutritious weeknight dinner (high in fiber, protein and veggies). This recipe uses tomato sauce from a jar in order to save time. If you go this route, read the ingredients label and try to find one with basic ingredients and no added sugar. If you are feeling saucy and have the time, go ahead and make your own! A basic red sauce can be as simple as simmering canned tomatoes with fresh garlic, basil and salt to taste.

What you need for this recipe:

2 medium spaghetti squash (1.5 pounds each)

1 pound of ground beef, bison, turkey or other ground meat (finely chopped portobello mushrooms can stand in for meat if you are making it vegetarian)

1 jar of tomato sauce (look for sauces with no sugar added)

Yield: 4 servings (about 2 cups each). That means if you are cooking for 1 or 2, you will have leftovers (hooray!)

Directions:

Turn your oven to 400 degrees F. Cut off about a half inch on both ends of the spaghetti squash. Now cut it in half by the width. This is key. Most recipes tell you to slice the squash lengthwise, but if you cut it in half by the width, you will get much longer strands of "noodles" that are much more spaghetti like. Scoop out the seeds in the middle with a spoon.

Optional step: sprinkle 1/4 teaspoon of salt on the insides of the squash and let rest for 15 minutes. This will draw moisture out of the squash and create a much firmer noodle texture. Rinse the squash thoroughly to remove salt. (If you are pressed for time, you can skip the salt step).

Place the squash halves on a wire rack over a baking sheet. Bake at 400 degrees F for 30 minutes. While the squash bakes, brown your ground meat of choice in a skillet or dutch oven. Add your sauce and lower to simmer for 20 minutes while the squash bakes. (Optional step: I like to use my immersion blender on meat sauces to make a restaurant style ground meat texture).

While the squash roasts, you can also roast another veggie on a separate sheet pan on your lower oven rack. I did broccoli florets tossed in olive oil, salt and pepper for the final 15 minutes that the squash was roasting.

Final step: allow squash to cool for 5-10 minutes. Using your fork, pull the perfectly noodle like strands away from the squash skin and place a serving in each pasta bowl. Top with your sauce and a side of roasted broccoli. That's it!

Per serving (1 cup of squash, 1 cup of sauce, 1 cup of broccoli):

400 calories, 40g carbs, 9g fiber, 30g protein. Great source of Vitamin A, Beta Carotene, Folate, Iron, Vitamin C. Nutrient values are approximate.

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