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500 Calorie Dinner Idea: Spaghetti Squash Baked Spaghetti---with homemade Spaghetti Sauce!

Posted Feb 19 2011 5:59pm
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Growing up, we had spaghetti for dinner nearly every Wednesday night because Wednesdays were church nights and we needed a quick supper.  I still think spaghetti is pretty tasty, but I look for ways to change it up because regular spaghetti seems so plain Jane to me after having it so often during childhood.

It doesn't hurt that replacing the traditional noodles in this recipe with spaghetti squash slashes calories and ups the vegetable intake.  My husband nearly had a panic attack the first time I put this on the table, but I saw him sneak back for seconds and take more than his fair share of leftovers the next day.  This dish is also very kid friendly (at least for my kids- they actually passed up pizza rolls and ate these leftovers instead).

The homemade sauce is a keeper--even if you aren't ready to replace your pasta with squash "noodles."  Ready in just thirty minutes, this meat sauce is flavorful, not too watery, and stands up to commercial sauces without a problem!

To prepare this dish, you can roast the spaghetti squash ahead of time.  Cut the squash in half lengthwise--no easy task!  Careful with that knife.  This dish isn't worth stitches!  You can microwave it for a couple of minutes to soften it if you can't get the knife to cut all the way through.

Scoop out the seeds with a spoon, then place the halves fleshy side down in a baking dish filled with about an inch of water.  Place each half flesh side down in the baking dish.  Bake the squash in a 400 degree oven for 50-60 minutes.

You want your squash to be soft (not crunchy), but not overdone...mushy squash will not taste like spaghetti!  Remember, you can always finish cooking the squash to your liking in the microwave after you take it out of the oven before you use it for the baked spaghetti.

If you've never tried spaghetti squash you are about to find out how it got its name.  Wait for the squash to cool so you can hold on to it, Take a fork and start scraping the fork lengthwise through the squash.  Cool, huh?  Your "noodles" are done!  I wonder what people called this squash before spaghetti noodles were invented?

While the squash is baking, you can start on your sauce.  Here's the recipe Homemade Spaghetti Meat sauce (with Sausage)
1 lb Turkey Sausage (I use Jennio-O) or other Italian suasage
1 large Yellow Onion
1 medium Red Bell Pepper, chopped
3 cloves Garlic
1 tbsp Italian Seasoning
1 tbsp Worcestershire Sauce
2 cans Tomato Paste (small cans)
1 can Tomato sauce (8 oz)
1 can Petite Cut Diced Tomatoes No Salt Added (14 1/2 oz)
1 tsp Salt
1 tsp Sugar (optional)
1 tsp Fresh Ground Black Pepper
1 cup Water

Brown sausage with onions and drain off excess grease. Add seasoning, salt, pepper, and garlic along with chopped bell pepper. Add cans of tomatoes and bring to a boil. Add sugar if desired. Reduce heat and simmer for at least 30 minutes. 

Well, if you have made it this far, you are all in!  Trust me, this meal is worth the effort!  You probably have enough sauce and spaghetti squash for two batches of this.  We ate this for dinner and had enough for lunch leftovers the next day and still have enough sauce and "noodles" for another batch...that's four meals if you are counting.  That's is a great payoff for the time you are spending in the kitchen!

Spaghetti Squash Baked Spaghetti Recipe
1/2 Baked Spaghetti Squash (shredded into "noodles")
16 oz Cottage Cheese (i used 2%) or Ricotta if you prefer
1/2 cup Grated Parmesan cheese
4 cups Homemade Spaghetti Meat Sauce
1 1/2 cups Part Skim Mozzarella Cheese

Drain shredded squah for about 5 minutes.  You can lightly salt it, to draw out more moisture.  I just put mine in a colander.  When squash is drained, spread it on the bottom of a baking dish.  (i sprayed mine with cooking spray).

You could easily use ricotta cheese instead of the cottage cheese in this recipe--the cottage cheese is just personal preference.  Ricotta cheese is one food that I just can't make myself like.  I do strain my cottage cheese to get rid of a good amount of the moisture.  It's a little more work, but I prefer the texture over ricotta any day!  To strain the cottage cheese, I put it in a mesh strainer and push a spoon over it for a few minutes to work out the moisture.  This also mashes some of the curds so it ends up being more ricotta-like.  It's a little messy, but kinda fun!

Mix the cottage cheese with the grated Parmesan.  Spread cheese mixture over squash.

Ladle spaghetti sauce over cottage cheese and then top with mozzarella cheese.  Bake at 350 for about 20 minutes.  See the finished product below.

Let the Baked Spaghetti set up for about 10 minutes before serving.

This one dish wonder is only 312 calories per serving.  Served with a slice of garlic toast, this is easily a 500 calorie dinner.

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