Date Night For Two: Spaghetti Squash Supper

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A recipe for two? You heard me right! While I do enjoy cooking for myself, I really enjoy cooking for others, especially when the boyfriend comes over for dinner. With our busy work schedules, it’s often hard to get together during the week, but when the planets and stars align just right, date night during the week is a go!

Okay, confession time. The first time I tried out this recipe, I did not realize that spaghetti squash was an actual type of squash. I honestly thought it was a technique in which you turned any squash into stringy spaghetti-like noodles. After coming home with a large zucchini and then researching techniques, I quickly realized what a silly mistake I had made! That night ended with thinly (and meticulously I might add) sliced strips of zucchini sautéed; tasty, but not quite the effect I was going for.20141008_180457

This second time around I bought an actual spaghetti squash and things got much easier and fun! Cleaning out the spaghetti squash is like cleaning out a pumpkin when carving it, a skill I knew would come in handy after all those Halloweens. Once the squash has baked and steamed, scraping the “spaghetti” noodles is like magic. This was a step in the recipe I honestly enjoyed and smiled while doing. It’s the little things in life that make you happy, like when a recipe actually turns out how it was intended, even if it did take a second try.

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Like actual pasta, spaghetti squash is a blank canvas and this time I went the traditional Italian route, tomato, basil, sausage and a generous portion of my favorite ingredient, garlic! I also cooked with grape seed oil for the first time and really enjoyed the flavor it added. While I love to cook with olive oil when sauteing, I don’t prefer it as the main ingredient in a sauce as I find it to be a bit heavy. This grape seed oil was basil pesto flavored and comes from a company called Wildtree. I first tried this oil at a tasting party in Idaho with my aunt and couldn’t wait to get cooking with it! They have several tasty flavors to choose from and their products can be purchased online at http://shop.wildtree.com/pages/cfHome.cfm if you do not have a tasting party near you. A little goes a long way, so try to not be heavy-handed with the drizzling.

Needless to say, date night was a success and the boyfriend who is not the biggest fan of veggies in the squash family, ate every last bite of this “pasta.”

Buon appetito!

Recipe

Ingredients

  • 1 medium-sized spaghetti squash
  • 3 hot Italian pork sausages
  • 2 white mushrooms
  • 2-3 garlic cloves
  • 13 cherry tomatoes
  • 4-5 fresh basil leaves
  • 2 tbsp. basil grape seed oil plus more for drizzling
  • parmesan cheese for garnish

For the Spaghetti Squash

  • preheat oven to 400 F
  • while oven is heating, prep the squash for baking
  • rinse the squash and dry completely so that it is not slippery when trying to cut in half
  • cut squash in half lengthwise from the stem to the base using a large chef’s knife; you will have to put some elbow grease into this step as spaghetti squash is quite tough to cut through, much like a pumpkin
  • scoop out the seeds and loose flesh, but don’t dig too deep or you will start to scoop out the tasty “pasta” part
  • place the squash halves face down in a large baking dish and add enough water to cover the bottom of the pan, this will help steam the squash as it cooks
  • once oven is preheated, cook squash for 30 minutes
  • after 30 minutes of cooking, add additional water to baking dish to coat bottom again, and loosely cover squash with a foil tent to intensify the steaming process; bake squash for an additional 10 minutes
  • squash will be done when flesh is tender and easily pulls away when scraped with a fork
  • to make the “spaghetti,” gently pull at the flesh horizontally to create long strands of squash
  • drizzle grape seed oil over the squash and toss in a bowl before serving

Finishing the Dish

  • while the squash is baking, slice mushrooms into ¼ inch thick pieces, halve cherry tomatoes, mince garlic cloves, and roughly chop basil
  • to cook sausage, remove from casing and cook in an ungreased pan on medium to high heat for 5 to 7 minutes until all of the pink is gone and the meat starts to brown
  • remove meat from heat and place on a paper towel lined plate to help remove some of the grease
  • wipe out the pan and coat with 2 tbsp. grape seed oil
  • cook mushrooms for 3 minutes in pan over medium heat, add garlic and tomatoes and cook for an additional 2 minutes or until mushrooms are tender and garlic starts to slightly brown
  • add sausage back into pan and cook for 2 minutes to combine the flavors
  • remove veggie and sausage topping from heat and sprinkle with chopped basil
  • to assemble the dish: place a heaping mound of tasty spaghetti squash and top with a large scoop of the sausage and veggie mixture, sprinkle with parmesan to garnish
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