So it’s Sunday, and that usually means eating some kind of “comfort food” in our house. Cooked in a slightly longer time. And in our home, this usually means some kind of meat-and-potato dish. And only a couple of years ago, a HUGE bowl of pasta loaded with cheese and cream. And boy, did we enjoy them EXCEPT we both suffered from bloating, indigestion, and other un-sexy symptoms moments later on. AND it lingers for a a couple of days. Yikes!
We’ve been both kinda’ slacking in our fitness activities lately…..we both wanted to eat something that’s still comforting and nourishing albeit lower in the carb department. Spaghetti squash to the rescue!!! This plant is something of a miracle–after it’s cooked, you run your fork through it, and its flesh separates into these spaghetti-like strands! And if you’re one of those people who are low-carbing it for weigtloss, this veggie is your friend!
You can cook the spaghetti squash much faster using the microwave. Cut it in half lengthwise, place it cut side down into a microwave safe container and nuke for 12 minutes. BUT if you happen to be a anti-microwave nazi, this is how to roast it: Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Brush cut sides of squash with olive oil, and sprinkle with salt and pepper to taste. Place squash, cut sides down, on a rimmed baking sheet. Roast until tender, about 25-30 minutes. Let cool slightly about 10 minutes. Scrape squash with a fork to remove flesh in long strands.
Is microwaving food bad for you? Well, this reading can help you decide. I use it once in a big while. At the very least, if you are NOT willing to give up the convenience of a microwave, PLEASE use glass containers. Plastics leaking into your food is just NOT a good thing.
As for the usual cheese component, well I gotta go an alternate way since soft and highly processed cheeses flare up my IBS. BUT! I am sooo happy to have found this in my local Wholefoods store: cashew cheese! I can make it from scratch, but today I just didn’t feel like it. Same thing with the marinara sauce. Just make sure that you pick one that has no more than 4 grams of sugar per serving.
I used a little bit of Parmigiano Reggiano. I know, i know it’s dairy. But you know what? My tummy is ok with it. That’s cuz hard cheeses has little amount lactose in them. I’m okay with raw cheeses as well. You wanna know why don’t you? Read here and here.
Anyway, back to the spaghetti squash: YOU WON’T MISS the regular pasta in this dish. Yeah, I know, it may not be quite like the usual comfort food you’re used to, but for me, this is a very good alternative. Besides, my gut and my whole body is much more “comfortable” this way. AND the hubs loves it. “It’s a definite repeater”, my former pasta-and bread-monster hubs proclaimed.
- one medium sized spaghetti squash
- 2 cups of crap-free marinara sauce, no more than 4 gms of sugar per serving
- 1 pound Italian sausage
- ½ medium onion, minced
- 1 container cashew cheese- I used The Cultured Kitchen Basil Pesto Cashew Cheese
- 1 tbsp Italian seasoning- or to your taste
- 1 cup crimini mushrooms, thinly sliced
- Parmigiano Reggiano-shredded, I used for each layer, about ½ cup (instructions below)
- Note: may omit Parmigiano Reggiano if you can't tolerate any cheeses at all. It will still be good.
- Cook and prepare spaghetti squash as described above.(12 minutes in microwave, 30 minutes in 400 degree oven). After it's cooked, turn down oven to 350 degree (we will need to keep it on to bake the casserole). Take out squash and when cool enough to handle, fork its flesh into a bowl
- While squash cooks, brown the italian sausage, casings removed, heat large skillet to medium high. Add the sausage, brown a bit about 3 minutes then add the onions. All the while break up sausage with a wooden spoon.Season with salt, pepper and Italian seasonings.
- Once browned, add the mushrooms and cook for 2-3 minutes.
- Add the marinara sauce and simmer for about 10 minutes. Taste it and adjust seasonings as needed.
- Now it's time to layer: place ⅓ squash 'noodles" into a casserole dish. Top with ⅓ of marinara mixture then dot with cashew cheese (about ⅓ cup) and a thin sprinkling of Parmigiano Reggiano. Then do this 2 more times and ending it with the Parmigiano Reggiano,
- Bake for 40-45 minutes. Let rest for 5 minutes before digging in.