Italian Spaghetti Squash

We are officially a squash family! I love seeing the grocery store bins filled with squash of all different sizes and colors this time of year. They’re so beautiful, don’t you think?! Unfortunately, living in an apartment, carving a squash is as close as we’ll come to carving a Halloween pumpkin this year. It’s been years since I’ve carved a jack-o-lantern, and even longer since I’ve cooked with squash. The moment I cut into my gorgeous gourd, the smell immediately triggered memories of Halloween and trick-or-treating as a kid. I’d forgotten that unique smell entirely! Can you believe it?! It all came flooding back though, and it made the meal so much more special!

I chose a bright and beautiful spaghetti squash from the grocery bin and decided to get crazy by turning it into a… spaghetti dish! Big surprise, right?! I knew I had to “butch up” the meal a bit for my husband, so I decided to cook up some Italian ground sausage and add it to a red pepper sauce (store-bought… see, even easier!). Here are some tips I discovered if you haven’t worked with spaghetti squash before:

Smells like carving pumpkins!

I started by carving off the ends. (A sharp serrated knife helps, but for heaven’s sake be careful!) Then I cut the flesh down one side lengthwise, and then the other. If it’s too tough, I put the squash in the microwave for about 1:30-1:45 to help soften up the flesh. It helped me get the knife through.

Olive Oil, Salt, Pepper... that's all you need!

From there, it’s all smooth sailing. Just scoop out the seeds, brush the flesh with olive oil, salt, and pepper. I used a garlic and mushroom infused olive oil since I knew I was making an Italian dish, but plain olive oil will do!

You’ll want to cook your squash, flesh side down, on a baking dish or pan for about :40 minutes on 400. I’ll be honest, I heard a big ‘POP’ come from the oven and figured… “yeah, they’re probably done now” šŸ™‚

Shreds like magic!

Let the squash cool for a few minutes until you can touch them without getting burned. Presto-chango… the flesh should magically shred into spaghetti strips easily with a fork!

(Meal for 2 with leftovers)
1 medium spaghetti squash
olive oil (for brushing)
1/2 pound Italian style ground sausage
1/2-3/4 jar of spaghetti sauce of your choice (I used roasted red pepper)

1. Heat oven to 400
2. (If you need help carving) Put squash in microwave for about 1:30 to help soften the inner flesh.
3. Cut ends off squash and cut squash in half lengthwise, scoop out seeds, brush flesh with olive oil and sprinkle with salt and pepper.
4. Place both halves flesh side down on a baking sheet or baking pan and bake about 40 min on 400.
5. While squash is baking, brown your sausage, then add sauce to the pan and warm through.
6. Remove squash from oven, let cool about 5 minutes. You should be able to shred the squash into spaghetti strips into a bowl.
7. Just like regular pasta, scoop squash onto a plate and top with sauce… you could even add grated parmesan if you’d like!

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