If you're not familiar with spaghetti squash, it's just what it sounds like: It's a winter squash that, after being cooked, naturally separates into little strands, which have a texture halfway between crunchy and soft that somewhat resembles thin strands of spaghetti. It's obviously a little bit healthier than the real thing, and has the added benefit of being gluten-free.
But rather than search for a recipe designed for spaghetti squash, I decided to take a recipe for real pasta and see if the replacement would still taste good. I began with a recipe from Giada De Laurentiis, but replaced artichokes with kale. Sausage and kale is a classic combination with pasta, and the sun-dried tomatoes add a deep sweetness. To add even more richness, the recipe reduces wine and chicken stock into the sauce.
To be honest, I was impressed with the results. It took longer than pasta—the squash takes close to an hour to fully cook—but I stood up from the table much lighter and very satisfied.
Adapted from Food Network.
- 1 small spaghetti squash, about 2 1/4 pounds, cut in half lengthwise
- 2 1/2 tablespoons butter
- Salt and pepper
- 3/4 cup drained oil-packed sun-dried tomatoes, sliced, 2 tablespoons of oil reserved
- 1 pound Italian hot sausages, crumbled
- 1 bunch kale
- 2 large cloves garlic, chopped
- 1 3/4 cups chicken broth
- 1/2 cup white wine
- 1/2 cup shredded Parmesan, plus additional for garnish
- 1/3 cup chopped fresh basil leaves
- 8 ounces fresh mozzarella, drained and cubed
Preheat an oven to 375°F.
Place the squash cut-side down in a baking dish, and add enough water in the pan to come 1/2 an inch up its sides. Cover with aluminum foil and bake for 45 minutes, then turn over and cook, covered, until the the squash is very tender, an additional 15 minutes.
Cool the squash slightly, remove the seeds with a spoon, then use a fork to gently pull the strands away from the peel. Toss with the butter while still warm, and season to taste with salt and pepper.
While the squash is cooking, heat the reserved tomato oil in a large (12-inch) skillet over medium heat until shimmering. Add the sausage and cook until browned, breaking up as you go, about 8 minutes. Remove the meat to a bowl with a slotted spoon, leaving the fat behind in the pan.
Add the garlic and kale to the skillet and cook, stirring often, until the garlic is very fragrant and the kale begins to soften, 2-3 minutes. Add the sun-dried tomatoes, chicken broth, and vermouth. Bring to a boil and cook until the kale is very tender and the liquid is nearly all reduced.
Return the sausage to the skillet and add the Parmesan and basil. Toss well to combine and season to taste with salt and pepper. Serve with the warm spaghetti squash and top with the mozzarella.