I know, I know, I do a lot of spaghetti squash boat recipes. But why wouldn't I? They are delicious, healthy and who doesn't love a vegetable that doubles as its own serving dish??
This recipe came about as I have been trying to adjust my dinners to fit the 2B Mindset Program. I recently joined a fitness challenge group that a friend of mine from high school leads to start working off the baby weight that I am still carrying around (even though my "babies" are now 2 and 4). I'm really digging the nutrition side of it because it seems make a lot of sense while being less restrictive than Whole30/Keto/Paleo. It uses the plating method which basically gives you recommendations for portions of carbs/proteins/veggies to eat at each meal. As the majority of the daily carbs are consumed for breakfast and lunch, dinner is recommended to be 75% veggies and 25% protein, but it's pretty flexible with adding little extras to jazz up those veggies and protein. Hence this fabulous Italian Sausage & Pepper Stuffed Spaghetti Squash recipe.
This boat has everything you'd want in a rich and hearty pasta casserole but without all the carbs. It's creamy and flavorful and the leftovers heat up beautifully. And while you totally could scrape the spaghetti squash out, mix in the filling and bake in a casserole dish, I think serving in the boats is just more fun. And isn't that what life is all about?
Italian Sausage & Pepper Stuffed Spaghetti Squash Boats
- 2 medium spaghetti squash
- olive oil
- salt & pepper
- 1 lb Italian sausage, mild or hot
- 2-3 bell peppers, sliced
- 1 red onion, halved and thinly sliced
- 1 tsp olive oil
- 1 tsp oregano
- 1 tsp salt
- ½ tsp garlic powder
- ½ tsp onion powder
- ½ tsp dried thyme
- ½ tsp dried basil
- pinch red pepper flakes
- 2 cloves garlic, crushed
- 1 can diced tomatoes (14.5 oz)
- 1 cup tomato sauce
- 1.5 cup mixed Italian cheese, divided You can also just use an equal combination of mozzarella and parmesan in a pinch.
- 4 oz NeufchÃ¢tel cheese or cream cheese, cut into small cubes NeufchÃ¢tel cheese is very similar to cream cheese only with less fat and slightly less rich. They are basically interchangable in the recipe and in a pinch you could subsititute marscapone.
- salt & pepper to taste
- fresh basil leaves optional, for garnish
Roast the Spaghetti Squash
- Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F and line a large baking sheet with parchment paper.
- Halve the spahghetti squash lengthwise and scrape out the seeds and center bits using a spoon or ice cream scoop.
- Drizzle a little olive oil over the inside of the squash and sprinkle it with salt & pepper.
- Place the squash, cut side down, on the baking sheet and roast for approximately 40 minutes, or until cooked through but still firm.
- Remove from the oven and set aside to cool. Meanwhile, make the filling.
Make the filling
- Heat a nonstick skillet to medium high heat. Once hot, add in 1 pound of ground Italian sausage and cook until fully cooked through, using a spatula to break up the meat.
- Once the meat is brown and cooked through, use a slotted spoon to remove the sausage meat to a paper towel lined plate or bowl. Set aside.
- Add 1 tsp olive oil to the pan and add in sliced bell peppers and onions, oregano, garlic powder, onion powder, thyme, basil, crushed red pepper and 1 tsp salt. Cook over medium heat for 5-7 minutes until softened.
- Add in crushed garlic and cook for another minute or so until fragrant.
- Pour in 1 14.5 oz can of diced tomatoes, 1 cup of tomato sauce and sausage. Bring mixture to a simmer and continue to cook on low heat for 5 minutes.
Assemble and bake the boats
- While the sauce is simmering, preheat your oven to 375 degrees F.
- Use a fork or spoon to gently scrape out all of the cooked spaghetti squashÂ into a large mixing bowl. *Remember* Donâ€™t throw away the boats youâ€™ll be filling them soon!
- Add in the NeufchÃ¢tel cheese (or cream cheese) and the sausage & pepper mixture. Stir well to combine.
- Add in ½ cup of the Italian cheese mix and taste. Add additional salt and pepper if needed.
- Using tongs or a spoon, fill your empty spaghetti squash â€œboatsâ€ with the sausage and squash mixture until full or until the mixture has been used up.
- Sprinkle approximately ¼th cup of the remaining shredded cheese over each boat.
- Bake the filled boats at 375 degrees for 15 minutes or until hot and bubbly. If desired, broil them for an additional minute or 2 at the end to get the cheese really brown and bubbly.
- Remove from the oven and allow them to cool slightly before serving. Garnish with fresh basil if desired.