Spaghetti Squash Lasagna

*Photos and Recipe Updated November 2011*

Inspiration: I browse a lot of food blogs, and sometimes when I see a recipe, I know right away that I want to try it soon. This was one of those recipes. When I ran across it on My Kitchen Addiction, I immediately put it on my menu. Prior to this fall and winter season, I hadn’t eaten much winter squash before, so this year I’ve really been on the lookout for new squash recipes to try.

What we Loved: This dinner was beyond fantastic. The lasagna was hearty, meaty, cheesy, and filled to the brim with vegetables. We sat down to this supper after a long and busy Sunday afternoon, and it was so comforting. Brandon said that it reminded him a lot of baked spaghetti, but better. The squash was nice and tender, and its mellow flavor really went well with all of the other vegetables thrown in (spinach, tomatoes, mushrooms, carrots, onions, and red peppers). We used a lovely Italian sausage that added a great meaty and hearty aspect to the meal, and there were nice strings of gooey mozzarella throughout the dish. This meal is some seriously hearty comfort food that is just packed full of all kinds of good.

Helpful Hints:  I mixed up a semi-complex marinara sauce for this, but you can certainly use your favorite marinara or just mix some crushed tomatoes with some butter or olive oil and seasonings. I feel like this meal could be taken in a lot of different directions, too. For instance, instead of a tomato-based sauce, I think that some sort of alfredo or white sauce sounds really great with the complementing flavors of Italian sausage and spinach. Or even a pesto sauce would be lovely.

Spaghetti Squash Lasagna
Source: Adapted from My Kitchen Addiction

*Note – this makes a very large 9 x 13 casserole. 

1 large spaghetti squash

For the Sausage Layers
1 lb Italian sausage
1 onion, diced
Kosher salt and black pepper
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 cup frozen spinach, thawed

For the Tomato Sauce Layers
1/2 onion, finely diced
2 carrots, peeled and sliced
8 oz mushrooms, sliced
1/2 red pepper, finely diced
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 sprig rosemary, minced
Kosher salt and black pepper
Italian seasoning
2 28 oz cans crushed fire-roasted tomatoes
2-3 tablespoons butter

For the Cheese Layers
6 oz mozzarella cheese, freshly grated
1 oz Parmesan cheese, freshly grated
Italian seasoning

1. Preheat the oven to 375.

2. Poke the squash all over with a fork, creating holes. Roast the squash in the oven for 1 hour. Remove the squash from the oven, and cut it in half. Allow it to cool, and then scrape out the seeds (save them to make simple roasted squash seeds!). Scrape the spaghetti squash strands into a colander, and set the colander in the sink until you’re ready to assemble the lasagna.

3. Brown the sausage in a saute pan over medium heat. When it is nearly cooked through, add the onions, and season with salt and pepper. Saute until the onions are translucent. Add the garlic and spinach, and mix to combine. Remove from the heat.

4. Meanwhile, make the tomato sauce. Heat some butter in a sauce pan. Add the onions, carrots, mushrooms, and red peppers, and saute over medium heat until the moisture released from the vegetables has evaporated and the vegetables start to get nice and browned. Add the garlic and the rosemary, and season well with salt, pepper, oregano, and Italian seasoning. Stir to combine. Add the crushed tomatoes and a few big chunks of butter. Heat through, and adjust for salt and other seasoning.

5. Assemble the lasagna. Add half of the spaghetti squash to the bottom of a 9 x 13 baking dish. Spread evenly and flatten with a spatula. Top the squash with half of the sausage mixture and then half of the tomato sauce. Cover with half of the mozzarella cheese.

6. Add the second half of the squash, sausage, and tomato sauce to the dish. Cover with the rest of the mozzarella cheese and the Parmesan cheese. Sprinkle with Italian seasoning.

7. Bake uncovered for 30 minutes. If desired, broil for 2-3 minutes, until the top is browned.  Allow to rest for about 10-15 minutes before serving.

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Stuffed Poblano Peppers

Stuffed Poblano Peppers with Chicken Sausage, Salsa, and Corn

*Photos and Content Updated April 2012*

Inspiration: I saw this recipe on Elly Says Opa a while back and have had it bookmarked ever since. Brandon and I love Mexican and TexMex food, and we particularly love to eat it on the weekends.  Something about Mexican cuisine just makes for a fun, relaxed meal on a Friday or Saturday night, doesn’t it?

What we Loved: This recipe was fantastic in every way. Poblano peppers have such an earthy, smoky flavor, and while they were baking in the oven they made our house smell wonderful. With all of the different ingredients in the filling (chicken sausage, corn, fresh salsa, onions, and spices), the flavor combination was rich and spicy while still tasting rather crisp and refreshing. Rather than using a tomato-based salsa, I used some leftover cilantro salsa that I had in the freezer, and I also added some cilantro as a garnish. We thought that both of these items added a nice herbal lightness to the dish. And of course, the melted manchego on top of the peppers was a great finishing touch. Manchego has an awesome nutty flavor, and having baked in the oven, it also got that lovely added layer of flavor that comes from browning cheese.

Tips: Definitely wear a pair of kitchen gloves when dealing with cutting open peppers and removing the seeds. For some reason I always insist on doing this with my bare hands, and I can’t tell you how many times I’ve been left with burning red hands for the rest of the evening and a pair of ruined contacts that burn into my eyes when I try to put them back in the next morning. Poblano peppers aren’t particularly hot, but I still had issues after removing the seeds without wearing gloves, so I would recommend wearing them.

Stuffed Poblano Peppers with Chicken Sausage, Salsa, and Corn
Source: Elly Says Opa

I made just a couple of changes to this recipe. Here’s the recipe as I made it.

4 small/medium sized poblano peppers
1/2 diced onion
2 cloves garlic, minced
2 links chicken sausage, sliced (I used chipotle pepper chicken sausage)
1/2 cup salsa
1/2 cup corn
1/2 tsp. ground cumin
Salt and pepper
1 oz. manchego cheese, shredded

1. Preheat the oven to 400.

2. Heat a pat of butter over medium heat, and saute the onion until tender. Add the garlic, and cook for an additional minute. Add in the chicken sausage, and cook until the sausage starts to brown. Add the salsa, corn, and cumin. Season with salt and pepper, and simmer over low for a few minutes until all of the liquid from the salsa has evaporated.

3. Lay the poblanos flat, and cut a T-shaped slit into the top of the poblano. Pry the slit apart, and remove all of the seeds and ribs.

4. Stuff the sausage mixture into the peppers. Top each pepper with  some of the manchego cheese.

5. Bake until the poblano is tender and browned around the edges (25 minutes in my oven).

Rice with Sausage and Shrimp

Rice with Sausage and Shrimp

*Photo and Content Updated May 2012*

Usually, I can just tell while I’m cooking something if it’s going to be delicious or if it’s just going to be okay (or terrible). The whole time that I was making this, I was so excited because I knew that it was going to be incredible. And it was. Brandon and I could barely stop eating it. Neither one of us had ever had a similar dish before this, and we really enjoyed all of the different flavor components that were layered into the dish. The sausage and shrimp tasted so rich and succulent alongside all of the fresh vegetables and the creamy rice, and because everything was cooked together in the same pan, you could really taste all of the flavors in every single bite. I served this dish alongside diced avocado, and it really added a fresh and cool contrast to the rest of the flavors.

Rice with Sausage and Shrimp
Source: Adapted from Laylita’s Recipes

1/2 vidalia onion, diced
1 red pepper, diced
2 roma tomatoes, seeded and diced
3 garlic cloves, minced
1 cup white rice, uncooked
2 cups chicken broth
1 lb Italian sausage
1/2 lb raw shrimp, peeled, deveined, and tails removed
Handful of fresh cilantro
Kosher salt and black pepper, to taste
1 avocado

1. Heat a saute pan over medium heat. Crumble the sausage into the pan, and cook until the sausage is no longer pink and is starting to brown.

2. Add the onions and the peppers to the pan, and cook for approximately 5 minutes.

3. Add the minced garlic to the pan, and stir to combine.

4. Add the diced tomatoes to the pan, and cook for approximately 5 minutes.

5. Add the rice to the pan, and stir to combine.

6. Add the chicken broth to the pan, and bring to a simmer. Cover, and cook for approximately 15 minutes.

7. Add the shrimp to the pan, cover the pan again, and cook until the shrimp are cooked through, approximately 6-8 minutes.

8. Remove the pan from the heat. Add the cilantro, and season with salt and pepper to taste. Mix well.

9. Serve with fresh avocado.