So much for “Ah-ha...”
Lately we’ve been trying to eat healthier, so we got a few squashes. I did some research and found that there are a lot of ways that people use them. Of course, there’s the traditional “italian” tomato sauces, as a main dish, but there are also those that use it as a side, and just apply butter, garlic and herbs. Another cool thing is that it will keep on your counter top for weeks.
In this dish, I wasn’t really going for “healthy” because I used ordinary pork sausage, but even still, I figured that a full plate was only about 700-750 calories, including the parmesan and feta. That’s not bad for a main evening meal. If you wanted to go even less, you could use ground turkey, and even spice it like a sausage.
Another comment: It was tricky to figure out how many spaghetti squashes to cook for how many people. For some reason, the websites I looked at didn’t say, either. I found that as a main dish, one squash will do a full plate for two people. As a side, one spaghetti squash could probably serve three to four.
Dutch Oven Spaghetti Squash with Meat Sauce
14” Deep Dutch oven (to cook two squashes)
16-18 coals below
20-24 coals above
12” Shallow Dutch oven
18-20 coals below
2 spaghetti squashes
1-2 Tbsp olive oil
2 medium onions
About 6 mushrooms
1 green pepper
4-5 garlic cloves, minced
1 lb ground meat (I used sausage)
1 28 oz can diced tomatoes
1 14 oz can tomato sauce
I started out by lighting up a lot of coals, because I’d be cooking both the squashes and the sauce side-by-side. I cut the squash in two, lengthwise, using a butcher knife. It was tough, so I went with the big blade! I scooped out the seeds and the stringy guts and left the regular squash flesh in place. I drizzled on some olive oil and some salt in each half, and put them into the oven, upside down. I cut open the second one and did the same. Actually, I had some of the pieces the other way, like a bowl, and the moisture got trapped as it cooked, and made for runnier “noodles”.
The squash had to cook for a long time. In retrospect, I would consider pre-heating the Dutch oven, while getting everything ready. That would have cut down on the time a bit. Once the squashes were in place, it was just a matter of maintaining the heat, for about an hour and a half.
In the meantime, I made the sauce. It’s a pretty straightforward spaghetti meat sauce, and if you wanted to, you could even use bottled sauce. But I made my own.
I started off with coals under my 12” Dutch oven, heating up a bit of olive oil. I sliced the mushrooms and started sauteing them. My wife likes her mushrooms cooked down quite a bit, browned and done. Over the years, I’ve come to love them this way, too. It takes a little longer, though. Once they’re close to done, I added in the onions and the peppers, and, finally, the garlic. A bit of salt as each one is added helps to extract the moisture.
Once the veggies had gotten a little brown, I cleared them off to the sides and put the meat in the center. I browned it fully, and added the tomatoes (with liquid), and the sauce. Finally, I added the seasonings to taste, and replenished the coals for a good simmer, with the lid on.
When I could stick a little wooden skewer into the flesh of the squashes without much resistance, I knew they were done, and the sauce was well-simmered as well. I brought it all in.
I let the squashes cool, with the lid off, for a little bit so they would be easier to handle. I pulled each one out, one at a time, and, with a fork, began scraping the insides of the squash “bowl”, lengthwise. Immediately it pulls apart into short threads, like pasta. I lifted it out as I went onto the plate, When the squash was empty, the plate was full, and I spread it out. I ladled on some of the sauce, and finally, sprinkled on the cheeses.
You eat it with a fork, but not like spaghetti, where you twirl it around. The “noodles” aren’t long enough for that. You just scoop up a forkful and enjoy it! This was the first time my son remembered trying it, and he loved it!
Mark has discovered a love of Dutch Oven Cooking. Mark also has other sites and blogs, including MarkHansenMusic.com and his MoBoy blog.