Caprese Stuffed Spaghetti Squash
Caprese Stuffed Spaghetti Squash- perfectly al dente spaghetti squash stuffed with chicken sausage, a fresh tomato sauce, and spinach then topped with fresh mozzarella and basil.
December 3, 2020 by Nicole Collins
I don't like what I don't like.
I'll eat a lot of things, and I'll try a lot of things. But, I don't like what I don't like. And, that's ok. I know that oranges and coffee will never have a place in my kitchen, and it is what it is.
But there are some foods that I'm hesitant to try on my own, because I may not care for other similar foods from the same family.
Spaghetti squash fell on that list for me.
Spaghetti squash was one of those foods that I was always so curious about, but I was sure that I wouldn't like it. I don't like most orange root vegetables. I don't love summer squashes. I just was nervous about trying it.
But, given my diet for the past 9 months has been primarily pasta and all the carbs, I knew I needed a new plan. So, I encountered an $.87 spaghetti squash, decided I had nothing to lose, and put it in my shopping cart.
And guess what, I loved it!
Spaghetti squash has since become a regular item on my grocery lists, and I'm going to share the magic of it with you today.
So today, we're making Caprese Stuffed Spaghetti Squash!
Though I've always been a little hesitant to try spaghetti squash, it is quickly becoming one of my new favorite items from the produce aisle. Now, is spaghetti squash going to trick you into thinking you're eating pasta? No, it's not. But with a little mind over matter, it definitely can become a go to if you're trying to incorporate more low carb meals into your menu.
The key to good spaghetti squash is to not overcook it. My very first time cooking this squash did not go well. I overcooked it by about 10 minutes, and it turned to complete mush. And, that's not an exaggeration. It was slop. So to make sure we get it to a perfectly al dente texture, we're going to lop of the top to give us a flat surface for cutting, slice it lengthwise down the middle, scoop out the seeds, give it a little drizzle of olive oil, and season it with the tiniest pinch of salt and pepper. Spaghetti squash has a lot of water content, and salt brings out the water in produce, so we don't want to get crazy with our salt. Truly, just a pinch so things don't get soggy. Then, to the oven it goes for about 25 mins.
While the squash is roasting, we're going to work on our filling. We start by browning some caprese flavored chicken sausage. Chicken sausage is quickly becoming one of my new favorite proteins for a lot of reasons. They're freezable, but they thaw really quickly. They come in so many flavors. They're healthier than your traditional beef or pork sausages. And, they're stinkin' delish! The caprese chicken sausage that I used is loaded with basil, mozzarella, and sun dried tomatoes; so it's the perfect protein for our squash. However, if you can't find a caprese sausage, a spinach feta sausage would work here too.
Next up, we can work on our “sauce”. We'll start by cooking down some fresh tomatoes and garlic in a little olive oil until the tomatoes start to burst and become nice and juicy. Then, we'll wilt some fresh spinach, add a little Italian seasoning, and add our sausages back to the pan. We'll let everything cook together for a few minutes until the mixture is saucy, then we'll get it ready to mix with our squash.
When the squash is ready, it will easily separate into little spaghetti like strands when you run a fork over the flesh. So, we'll scoop out the flesh, mix it into our saucy tomatoes, then stuff the whole mixture back into the skin of the squash. As a finishing touch, we'll top the squash boats with some torn fresh mozzarella, pop it under the broiler for just a couple of minutes to get golden and bubbly, and we're ready to eat!
To serve, you can leave the squash mix in the shell for a fun presentation. Or, you can scoop everything back out and into a pasta bowl. Garnish with some fresh basil, and you're all set!
This meal is such a mix of flavors and textures. The squash is slightly sweet. The tomatoes are slightly acidic. The chicken sausage is nice and savory. The cheese is comforting and gooey. And all together, it's a flavor bomb bite. There are layers of flavors coming at you from every direction. And even though this dish is mostly vegetables, it's so hearty and filling. You get A LOT of squash in one serving, and this meal really fills you up.
What new foods have you tried recently that you ended up loving way more than you thought? Tell me all about it!
Enjoy! And, let's eat!
Caprese Stuffed Spaghetti Squash
Serves: 2 Print
1 spaghetti squash (about 2-2 ½ lbs)
1 tbsp + 1 tsp olive oil, divided
2 caprese flavored chicken sausages, sliced (I use Gilbert's craft sausages)
1 cup cherry tomatoes
2 cloves garlic, minced
2 heaping cups baby spinach
¼ tsp salt, plus more to taste
¼ tsp pepper, plus more to taste
¼ tsp Italian seasoning
¼ cup fresh mozzarella, torn
2 large basil leaves, chiffonade
olive oil cooking spray
Prepare the Spaghetti Squash: Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Line a baking sheet with aluminum foil. Cut the top off the spaghetti squash (the stem side) to create a flat surface. Stand the squash up, cut side down, and carefully cut vertically through the center of the squash to create two halves. Scoop out and discard the seeds in the center.
Lightly spritz the flesh of the squash with olive oil cooking spray. Season both halves with a tiny pinch of salt and pepper. Place the squash cut side down on prepared baking sheet, and roast for 25-30 mins until the squash strands come loose easily with a fork. Allow the squash to sit for about 5 mins before shredding the squash.
Meanwhile, prepare the filling: Heat 1 tsp olive oil in a non stick skillet over medium high heat. Add sausage slices, and cook for 2-3 mins until golden brown on the bottom. Flip the sausages, and cook and additional 1-2 mins until the sausages start to brown. Remove the sausage from the pan, and reduce the heat to medium.
Add 1 tbsp olive oil to the skillet. Add tomatoes, and cook for about 5 mins, tossing occasionally, until the tomatoes start to soften and burst. Add garlic, and cook for about 1 minute until fragrant. Add spinach, and cook for 2-3 mins until the spinach has wilted, stirring often. Once the spinach has wilted, add ¼ tsp salt, ¼ tsp pepper, and Italian seasoning. Add the sausage back to the pan. Stir to combine, and allow the mix to cook until it becomes slightly saucy, about 5 mins. Turn off the heat.
Increase the oven heat to broil. Use a fork to shred the spaghetti squash strands, leaving about a ½ inch border, and add the squash to the sausage and tomato mixture. Toss to completely combine. Take the squash mix, and refill the squash shells with the mix. Top with torn mozzarella. Place under the broiler for 2-3 mins until the cheese is bubbly and slightly golden.
To serve, leave the the squash mix in the shell and transfer to a plate, or remove the mix from the shell and transfer it to a serving bowl. Top with sliced basil leaves. Enjoy!
*You could used shredded mozzarella to top the squash instead of fresh mozzarella if that's what you have. Watch it under the broiler, because it will cook a little faster.
*If you can't find caprese flavored chicken sausage, a spinach feta chicken sausage would work here too.
*Be careful not to overcook the squash. It turns to mush quickly. Check it at 25 mins, and if it shreds easily, we're done. If not, give it a few more mins in the oven. This recipe is based on a roughly 2 lb squash, so if your squash is heavier, it will need to cook a little longer.
*To chiffonade the basil leaves, stack the leaves on top of each other, and gently roll into little cigar shapes. Use your knife to slice thin cuts. When it unrolls, you'll have little, pretty strands of basil.