Chicken Sausage and Pesto Stuffed Spaghetti Squash
Love casseroles? Yeah, me too. There’s just something about the homey nature of casseroles that plants them firmly in the “comfort food” category for me. What’s hard for me though, is that I find a lot of casserole recipes to be so unhealthy. They are usually loaded with cheese, overly processed foods, cans of “who knows what”, or they are just generally lacking in nutritious ingredients. I can get on board with a casserole like I just described now and then, but when it comes to regularly feeding my family healthy food?…not so much. My solution? Chicken Sausage and Pesto Stuffed Spaghetti Squash.
The chicken sausages I like are made by Al Fresco, they are fully cooked links, and they come in a huge variety of flavors. The ingredient list is quite clean for a packaged sausage link, and the best part is the convenience. They are already cooked and infused with a ton of fab flavors. In this recipe, I’m using the Sweet Italian Style (by the way, “sweet” isn’t saying these taste sweet, it simply means these sausages aren’t super spicy). If you like, you can use any of the other flavor varieties ““ many of them would taste great here (such as the spinach & feta or sundried tomato).
Pesto”¦yes, please! I LOVE pesto. I’m sure you can tell if you’ve looked around at the other recipe on this site! It’s easy to make (see my Classic Basil Pesto recipe here), and it adds SO MUCH FLAVOR. You can swap in purchased pesto if you’d rather. I’m sure I don’t have to go on and on about how wonderful pesto is, but if you haven’t cooked with it, please try it sometime!
The main component of this casserole (yes, I’m calling this a casserole even though it’s not baked in a casserole dish), is the spaghetti squash. This may be unfamiliar to some of you, and, if so, I would encourage you to step outside your comfort zone and try it! It’s SUPER EASY to cook (you literally cut the squash in half, scrape out some seeds/strings, put it on a pan and bake until tender; then use a fork to scrape out the squash). The beauty of spaghetti squash is that once it’s cooked, it looks like spaghetti noodles. It’s really cool! Also, spaghetti squash has a really mild flavor, which means you can pair it with almost any flavor you like.
Instead of using a casserole dish for this casserole, I stuff it all back into the empty squash shell halves, top it with a crispy, crunchy bread crumb and Parmesan mixture (because, what’s a casserole without a bread crumb topper??), and bake until the topping is browned. This method saves a dish, which makes the clean-up a snap!
I’m pretty much a sucker for any food that has a crispy, crunchy bread crumb topper. Yeah, major weakness(!), but I have to say, it really takes this casserole over the top (as it does for almost any casserole!). It’s a simple mixture of Parmesan cheese, panko bread crumbs (you can use almond meal instead of you want a gluten free option), and olive oil. That’s it”¦I mean, what more do you need?
I’m going to stop going on and on about this casserole now and suggest that you give a try next time you want a homey, comforting casserole that is loaded with healthy, flavorful ingredients! Please leave a comment if you try it ““ I’d love to hear what you think!
Spaghetti squash going into the oven
Spaghetti squash when finished baking.
Sausage mixture cooks just 5 minutes in a skillet to get the veggies tender (sausage is already cooked but takes on flavorful browning!)
Parmesan and panko crumb topper. Yum!
The stuffed and topped squash needs to bake just 10 to 15 minutes more to brown the top.
Finished and ready to dig into!
You get a lot of flavor and texture in each bite!
- 1 2-pound spaghetti squash
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- 1 medium red sweet pepper, chopped
- ½ cup chopped onion
- 2 fully cooked sweet Italian-style chicken sausage links, chopped
- ¼ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
- 1/3 cup pesto
- ½ cup panko bread crumbs or almond meal
- ½ cup finely shredded Parmesan cheese
- Preheat oven to 375°F. Cut spaghetti squash in half the long way. Use a large spoon to scrape loose seeds and strings; discard. Place squash halves, cut sides down, in a parchment paper lined shallow baking pan. Bake, uncovered, for 40 to 50 minutes or until just tender (a small sharp knife should poke into the side of the squash with ease when it’s tender). Set the pan on a wire rack; cool squash almost completely.
- In a large skillet, heat ½ tablespoon of the oil over medium heat. Add red pepper, onion, and sausage. Cook for 5 minutes, stirring occasionally. Stir in black pepper.
- When squash is cool, flip each half over; use a fork to scrape the squash flesh into a large bowl. Set squash half shells, bowl sides up, in the same baking pan. Add pesto to squash flesh; toss to combine. Stir in sausage mixture. Spoon squash mixture evenly into squash half shells.
- In a medium bowl combine bread crumbs and Parmesan cheese. Add remaining 1 ½ tablespoons olive oil. Toss to coat. Spoon evenly atop sausage mixture in shells; spread to an even layer.
- Bake the stuffed squash in the 375°F oven for 10 to 15 minutes more or until topping is golden brown.
- 4 servings (1/2 stuffed squash per serving)
- 353 cals, 16 g pro, 22 g carb, 23 g fat, 43 mg cholesterol, 5 g sat fat, 4 g fiber, 575 mg sodium