Spaghetti Squash with Italian Sausage and Spinach
A simple, delicious preparation suitable for any time of year.
Serves: 2 • Prep Time: N/A • Cook Time: N/A
Spaghetti Squash with Italian Sausage and Spinach
I love sausage. Love. It. Every food culture I’ve ever encountered has some variation, and the end results are manifold, inventive, and endlessly delicious. Regardless of whether it’s stuffed with chicken, fish, pork, root vegetables, or even fruit, tube meat holds a special place in my (probably enlarged) heart. The problem is, it’s a tragic love. Sausage is the Juliet to my Romeo, the Isolde to my Tristan: It’s a love that isn’t meant to be. And why? Because my wife, not my sausage-fantasy-wife, but my actual wife (with whom I live in more-or-less uninterrupted harmony) does not like sausage.
The question, given the circumstances, becomes one of how to meet my sausage needs while still maintaining household harmony. Nothing makes a cook cringe like hearing the person you’ve lovingly prepared a dish for say, “I’ll just make something else.” My solution? Just start sneaking sausage in places where it’s not the main focus of attention. Pasta sauce, stir-fry, a nice assortment of grilled meats…and a recipe for spaghetti squash. o and behold, not only did she like my recipe for spaghetti squash with Italian sausage and spinach, she actually told me to make it again in the future.
A man has never been so fortunate.
The sausage provides a savory base that partners perfectly with the onion and garlic, and the hot pepper brings just a bit of heat to the party. Spinach adds vibrancy and flavor, and parmesan cheese helps to tamp down on the iron-like characteristic that spinach can introduce.
The following recipe is a recent favorite of mine. Italian sausage is removed from its casing (or simply bought in bulk form like ground beef), sautéed in olive oil with onion, garlic, and hot pepper flakes, and then combined with cooked spaghetti squash, chopped spinach, and grated parmesan. The sausage provides a savory base that partners perfectly with the onion and garlic, and the hot pepper brings just a bit of heat to the party. Spinach adds vibrancy and flavor, and parmesan cheese helps to tamp down on the iron-like characteristic that spinach can introduce. It’s a simple, balanced recipe that requires minimal time and prep and is filling without being heavy.
This recipe is also an opportunity for the home cook to experiment. These days we seem to be living in a bit of a sausage-lover’s paradise, and it’s easy to find a pretty wide variety of options to work with. This recipe calls for sweet Italian sausage, but you could easily substitute in something else with a complimentary flavor profile. Pork will provide the better texture but chicken sausage is a good option for those who don’t eat pork. Flavored sausages could also add additional depth; look for garlic, onion, spinach, and red pepper.
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Begin by completing your mise-en-place. As with all spaghetti squash recipes in this section, make sure to thoroughly squeeze the liquid out of your squash by using a cheesecloth or a thin dish towel.
Heat olive oil in a large sauce pan over medium-high heat. Once the oil is shimmering add the sausage and use a wooden spoon or spatula to break it up. You You will want to use a cooking implement that can scrape the bottom of the pan and won’t be too flimsy, so a rigid spatula (or a spoon with a flat edge) is the way to go. Cook the sausage until it is opaque, but do not let it significantly brown, as we want the sausage to be tender and not too crumbly; this will take about five minutes.
Once all of the pink has been cooked out of the sausage, lower the heat to medium and add your alliums (your onion and garlic) and the hot pepper flakes. Sauté until soft, another five minutes.
Next, add the cooked and drained spaghetti squash to the pan.
You may find that the squash is difficult to combine with the cooked sausage and alliums due to its somewhat fragile nature. Use tongs if you’re afraid that mixing it will make it mushy, and in a pinch you can also mix by holding a fork in each hand tossing as you would a green salad. Cook until the sauce and spaghetti squash are fully mixed and steaming hot.
Add the chopped spinach and parmesan, stir (or use tongs) until all the ingredients are evenly incorporated, and immediately remove from heat. The spinach is there for both appearance and flavor, and having it semi-cooked not only tastes great but also looks really good. Make sure to check the level of seasoning and add kosher salt and pepper to taste. Top with additional parmesan if desired and serve immediately.
Here’s how to make this delicious recipe
Heat olive oil in a large sauté pan over medium-high heat. When the oil is shimmering, add the sausage and use a wooden spoon to break up the meat into small pieces. Cook until the sausage turns opaque and there is no pink left, about 5 minutes. Reduce the heat to medium and add onion, garlic, and hot pepper flakes. Sauté until soft, about another 5 minutes.
Break up the sausage in the pan
Add the cooked spaghetti squash to the pan and mix well to combine. Cook until spaghetti squash is hot and then stir in the chopped spinach and parmesan. Immediately remove from heat.
Add the cooked and drained spaghetti squash to the pan
Taste to check seasoning and add kosher salt and pepper to taste. Top with additional parmesan if desired and serve immediately.
- 1 tbsp olive oil
- 1 pound of sweet Italian sausage removed from casing
- 1/2 of 1 small onion chopped
- 4 large garlic cloves chopped
- 1 tsp hot pepper flakes
- Cooked flesh of 1 large spaghetti squash (about 4 pounds)
- 4 packed cups of chopped spinach
- 3 tbsp of grated parmesan
- Kosher salt to taste
- Freshly ground black pepper to taste
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Who’s Cooking Today
Jacob Dean is a freelance food and travel writer, recipe tester, and culinary product reviewer based in Washington, D.C. He is a regular contributor to The Cook’s Cook Magazine, DCist, Industree, has freelanced as a recipe tester for the New York Times, and has been published by the Washington Post. Jacob has tried over twelve hundred unique beers (he keeps count).
You can find him online at jacobdeanwrites.com, on Twitter as @SchadenJake, and on Facebook as Jacob Dean Writes.
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