I knew summer in the desert would be hot. And so far it has accomplished that with 111* temps! I was ready for that, but I’m from humid Oklahoma. HUMIDITY doesn’t exist out here. When I walk outside I can watch my arm hair burn down to my skin.
Usually the hot weather calls for something light, cold, and fresh for dinner. However, our Midwestern stomachs have yet to get the memo. Instead, we have home-cooking on our minds.
It’s hard to beat a good old-fashioned casserole, and you’ll find that Adam and I can make quick work of one! But I haven’t exactly been on the straight and narrow in the kitchen lately(whoopsies), so I decided to curb our down-home craving with this lightened up version of one of our favorite recipes, Baked Spaghetti. The original recipe is full of melted mozzarella, creamy goat cheese, pasta, and sweet Italian sausage. I can hear the slurping now. . .however, I can feel my pants getting tighter, too.
Which brings me to my lightened up Spaghetti Squash Casserole!
Start by poking wholes in a spaghetti squash and microwave it for 10-12 minutes, or until completely tender. Take it out and let cool. Next, slice it in half and scoop the seeds out. Then grab a fork and. . . well, fork it out. Put it into a colander and lightly salt it. Set aside for at least 10 minutes, and let all of the moisture seep out of the squash. Ain’t nobody got time for a watery casserole! 🙂
While your squash is crying, take the zucchini, mushroom , onion, and red pepper and give them a dicin’ to your likin’. After they’re all chopped, heat 2 TBSP olive oil in a large skillet. Throw in the veggies on high heat, get a good sear, and then turn down your heat and saute the until tender. Once tender, turn the heat back up and cook off excess moisture.
Now that you have your veggies ready to go, brown one pound of ground turkey (or Italian turkey sausage) with 1 TBSP minced garlic. Once browned through, add 1 tsp of Italian Seasoning ( I added extra basil), about 2/3 jar of spaghetti sauce, and your veggies. Stir that until just combined, not over mixing.
Now dump in the rest of your sauce, the drained spaghetti squash, and a little black pepper. Look how much liquid came out of the squash. That’s about 1/3 cup!
Now, for the stars of the show. . .the cheese! This is what makes this casserole feel like the real thing. You need 1/3 cup parmesan, 3 oz goat cheese, and 4-5 oz mozzarella. Layer half of you squash/sauce/veggie mixture in a medium-sized baking dish. Layer all of the cheeses evenly across the sauce, reserving 1/3 of the mozzarella to top with.
Now all you have to is layer the other half of the sauce mixture on top of the cheese, and finish it off with a sprinkling of mozzarella. And, ta-dah! Throw it in the oven at 350*F for arooooound 20-30 minutes. Really, you just want it to be bubbling and the cheese on top meted through.
While the casserole is resting for about 10 minutes, you could whip up some garlic butter and slather it on some bread. Just throw it in your already hot oven and heat through. While this step is optional, D (Adam) recommends it. 🙂
Plate it up, and enjoy! It turned out gooey and moist, but not watery!
Even though the critic in this house isn’t all that critical, he gave it two thumbs up! And enough leftovers for Adam to take in his lunch a couple of days. Everyone wins!
Adam and I are playing on a co-ed softball team through his work. Tonight is our second game, and before last week I hadn’t played softball in. . .YEARS. We won, but I could use some practice. I guess we could buy a softball? Probably a good starting point.
Spaghetti Squash Casserole
1 medium spaghetti squash
1 small zucchini, diced
1/2 cup red bell pepper, diced
1 cup mushrooms, sliced thin
1 medium sweet onion, diced
2 TBSP olive oil
1 lb. ground turkey or Italian turkey sausage
1 TBSP minced garlic
1 tsp Italian seasoning
1 jar spaghetti sauce
black pepper to taste
1/3 cup parmesan
3 oz goat cheese
4-5 oz mozzarella
1. Pre-heat oven to 350*F. Take spaghetti squash and poke it full of holes. Place in a microwave for around 10 minutes, or until tender. Once cooled, cut in half, remove seeds, and fork out all of the “spaghetti.” Place in a colander, lightly salt, and let drain for at least 10 minutes.
2. While the squash is draining, saute zucchini and next three ingredients in the olive oil on high heat. Once seared, turn heat to medium and cook until tender. Once tender, turn heat up and cook off all excess moisture. While veggies are working, brown 1 lb turkey and garlic.
3. Once browned, add veggies, 2/3 sauce, and seasoning. Mix a bit. Then add the spaghetti, rest of the sauce, and black pepper. Mix until just combined.
4. Layer 1/2 of the squash/sauce mixture, and then all of the cheeses, reserving 1/3 mozzarella. Slather the rest of the sauce on top, and sprinkle with remaining cheese. Bake at 350*F for 20-30 minutes, or until bubbly and cheese melted. Enjoy!