To completely state the obvious, it is September. This means shorter days, cooler weather, leather jackets and pumpkin spice flavoured everything are creeping their way back into our lives (mainly via our Instagram feeds, grocery shops, Starbucks runs, etc. etc.). For some, the coming of fall brings with it some serious panic attacks about the loss of their beloved hot, sunny weather and the idea of the impending not-so-stylish season that comes after fall (looking at you, Canadian winter). Personally, I am in the other camp – the one with people who are excited to pull out their sweaters, boots, tea mugs and soup recipes. I am also pleased that with the end of summer comes the end of my double duty schooling (two nights a week on top of a full time job, freelance work, and a lot of weekend drinking is coconuts), which gives me more time to chat with you guys! Yay, right? Right, guys? (In my head there is nothing but resounding shouts of joy and epic high fives going on right now. If that’s a bubble don’t you dare burst it…)
Although the hot weather hasn’t quite gone away yet, I have already turned my culinary focus on heartier, more warming dishes (which is a change from my summer culinary focus which is wine. Yes – it’s a meal.) However, since my summer culinary focus has led to an unfortunate 5lb weight gain (see – not all health bloggers are here to make you feel like a lazy, fat ass while pretending we are perfect), September is for enjoying delicious favourites that won’t make it even harder to get into my fall favourite jeans without a series of crazed-looking dance moves (ladies – you know what I am talking about. So does my husband…). Since pasta is out of the question (epic sigh), I got a little creative with my favourite sausage penne recipe and created this week’s recipe – Spicy Sausage Spaghetti Squash.
If you follow me regularly you know I often use spaghetti squash as a substitute for pasta. Not only is it delicious, easy and crazy low calorie (like 42 calories a cup!), it’s also packed with so much nutritional goodness. First, it’s super high in B vitamins, which are greatly depleted by alcohol (and thus the summer drinking) and as I have learned in my schooling are some of the most important vitamins out there. Specifically, it’s high in riboflavin, niacin, and thiamin, which promote optimal cellular function (translation: makes your body work). Folate is also present in good quantities, which supports the formation and development of new cells and may help prevent birth defects, making this squash an ideal food for pregnant women (or those trying to get pregnant now that their summer is over…). Folate can also help filter out homocysteine (which promotes inflammation and disease) from your blood and promote cardiovascular health. Spaghetti squash also contains the essential minerals calcium, iron, phosphorus, and zinc, all of which are important for boosting immune function, energy, bone health and supporting the all-important liver (who may be a little pissed at you after a summer of fun).
So, this weekend put on your coziest sweater, brew a cup of pumpkin spice chai tea, and enjoy the new season’s flavour with this delicious “pasta”, guaranteed to make even the most summer loving person give a small nod to fall.
The Natural Blonde
P.s. It is not lost on me that this fall recipe also incorporates my favourite summer “food”. I guess I have one foot in the other camp, too…
P.s.s. This is the original recipe. It’s DELICIOUS and you can make it a little healthier by subbing in brown rice pasta and opting for leaner sausage or ground meat. Tip: if you are cooking for a new man, this is your ticket to a diamond, baby. Or at least one hell of a thank you.
Spicy Sausage Spaghetti Squash
- 1 large spaghetti squash
- 3/4 lb (375 g) spicy Italian pork sausage (about 4 sausages) OR 1 lb lean ground turkey (this is my version – if possible use hormone, antibiotic free meat)
- 5 cloves garlic, chopped
- ½ tsp. hot pepper flakes
- 3 tablespoons grapeseed oil
- 5 plum tomatoes, diced with seeds removed (this ensures you don’t end up with a very watery dish)
- 1 cup red wine
- 2 cups organic baby arugula
- 1 cup grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese
- Fresh basil, chopped (optional)
Pre heat oven to 375 degrees.
Prep your spaghetti squash by cutting it in half and scraping out all the seeds and gunky pulp. Lay them face down in an oiled baking dish and roast for 40 minutes. Once cooked through (should be very soft inside), remove and let cool slightly before scraping out the spaghetti squash with a fork, until you have a bowl full of cooked “squash pasta.” Set aside.
Meanwhile, in a large skillet, brown the sausage meat or ground turkey, garlic and hot pepper flakes in the oil, breaking up the meat into small pieces. Add the tomatoes and simmer, stirring frequently, until all the liquid has evaporated. Add the wine and continue cooking until slightly reduced, typically around 5. Add the spaghetti squash and cheese to the skillet and combine thoroughly, breaking up any clumps in the squash to ensure it’s all thoroughly coated and easy to serve. Add the arugula and toss lightly just before serving. Season with a little black pepper and a little fresh basil if desired and serve!
You may want to drain off any extra liquid before storing in the fridge (the squash adds water to the dish).