Spaghetti Squash Pie

by elleryturner

I’ll openly admit that the following recipe is a little more involved than most that I make.  However, I love cooking a more advanced recipe on the weekend, or whenever I have some extra time.  There’s something about following a process, completing each step, and having a finished product to enjoy that has always been a stress-reliever for me.  If you find cooking more stress-inducing than relieving, or are just starting to cook (or get more adventerous in your cooking), I’ve included some tips after the recipe on a simple preparation for spaghetti squash that will serve as great introductions to the vegetable.

I’ve already regaled you with tales of just how much I love butternut squash, but I have pretty similar feelings about spaghetti squash.  Spaghetti squash is also of the winter variety – in season from early fall through winter – so it should be reasonably priced, perhaps even on sale, in grocery stores during this time.  I love to use spaghetti squash to replace its namesake, and not just spaghetti, but any type of pasta.  Added benefit: it rings in at just under 40 calories for 4 cooked ounces.  And…it’s a vegetable and vegetables = healthy.  Easy enough.  Budget-friendly benefit?  This recipe uses the leftover 1/2 pound of ground turkey from my Zucchini Boats

Spaghetti Squash Pie (makes 6 servings)

1 spaghetti squash

1/2 lb ground turkey

1 cup low-fat ricotta

2 cloves fresh garlic

1/2 white or yellow onion

1 egg

1 tbls olive oil

1 tsp dried italian herbs (or combo of parsley, basil, and oregano – whatever you have in the pantry)

8 oz crushed tomatoes (look for a can that has no sodium added and that does not list sugar in the ingredients)

1/2 cup low-fat shredded mozzarella

1/2 cup frozen chopped spinach, defrosted with the extra water pressed out (put in a strainer and press with paper towels)

Step 1:  Pre-heat oven to 350.  Slice the squash lengthwise and scoop out the seeds with a spoon. 

Step 2: Place squash, cut side down, on a baking sheet and roast for 20 minutes.  When it’s done, you should just be able to run a fork through it to scrape it into spaghetti-like strands, but it should not be mushy. 

Step 3: While the squash is baking, dice the garlic, chop the onion, and remove any water from the spinach using the instructions in the ingredient list.

Step 4: Heat olive oil in a pan on medium heat and add garlic, onions and spinach.  Saute for 3 minutes, and add ground turkey, breaking it up with a wooden spoon and cooking until brown.  Add tomatoes and spices, turn down the heat, and let simmer for 10 minutes.  (Note:  If you’re using turkey you’ve browned for an earlier purpose, just throw the cooked turkey in after you add the tomatoes)

Step 5: Remove squash from oven and use a fork to shred both sides of the squash.  Remove access liquid by placing in a strainer and pressing with paper towel, or spread out over a paper towel and let sit for several minutes.  Spray a pie pan with light cooking spray and line the pan with the spaghetti squash, like a crust.

Step 6:  Wisk together the ricotta and egg with a pinch of salt and pepper and spread the mixture over the spaghetti squash “crust.”  Top with the turkey mixture.

Step 7: Top with shredded mozzarella and bake at 350 for 10 – 15 minutes.

Slice and serve!  This pairs well with a simple green salad on the side, but is filling enough to eat on its own.  This is also a great way to use up any extra vegetables you have lying around before they go bad (not to mention, a great way to sneak some veggies in under a tomato sauce and cheese cloak for those of you with kids) – you could add mushrooms, fresh tomatoes, chopped zucchini and summer squash, diced carrots…take some liberties with it!  Need a vegetarian version?  Swap out the ground turkey for any above-mentioned veggies, or just leave it out entirely.

If you’re looking for a simpler – or beginner – preparation, bake and shred the spaghetti squash per my instructions above and serve with a tablespoon of pesto, or just a drizzle of olive oil, black pepper, and parmesan.  The ultimate comfort food…without the ultimate calorie intake.