Did you indulge or party just a tee-tiny bit too much this past weekend? Or maybe you fell for that lie we all tell ourselves when we’ve eaten half the brownies and, thoroughly disgusted with ourselves, take action to rid the temptation by saying, “I want this out of the house. I’ll finish it and then it won’t be around anymore to tease me.” It’s so awful. And hard, too. But I’ve found if I can stick to a healthful meal plan for two or three days eating well almost becomes a habit. All of us have struggled with our weight at one time or another. College weight, baby weight and old lady weight have all been my personal nightmares. Here’s a special memory that ought to make you feel better. When I was pregnant with our son, James, I gained 52 (yes, 52) pounds. I was enormous; I looked like a walrus…except I had braces and a real tragedy of a haircut. After I gave birth I was still fat but I had the greatest treasure in the world. Anyway, one afternoon my father came over…alone. Normally he and Mom came over together or Mom came alone. We didn’t really have what one would call a “visit”, as he strode with his long legs into our house and made the following announcement. “Your mother and I are terribly worried. So I’m only going to say this once. Lose the weight.” With that, he turned around and walked out. Nice, huh? Thanks, Daddy. I can’t say his little pep talk worked, what with a new baby and nursing and all; it took a while after that to “lose the weight”. But these are the types of meals that make dropping a few pounds somewhat easier. We can do this. We’ve all lost weight before and we’ll do it again. With a little planning we can be healthy about it and keep the weight off. Fingers crossed.
I love this dish! It is incredibly satisfying and as filling as a pasta dish but without the sluggish, weighted down feeling one is left with after sitting down to a huge bowl of penne, fettucine or farfalle…not to mention the guilt, smothering like the black cloud we all know it to be. This casserole doubles extremely well, baked in a 9″ x 13″ dish. I typically double the recipe as my entire household enjoys it for lunch the following day, along with a good bit set aside for my brother and father. More fresh basil may be added if you like, as well as more grape tomatoes. The tomatoes bake-off beautifully, warm and savory, they almost melt in your mouth. The recipe doesn’t call for much parmesan cheese but if you want to stay Paleo or keep the calories out just leave it off. Truly, with all the different flavors, this dish doesn’t need it. Enjoy!
Sausage, Tomato and Basil Spaghetti Squash Bake
- 4 cups roasted spaghetti squash, that’s about one large squash
- 3 tablespoons olive oil, divided
- 1 1/4 pounds Italian style turkey sausage
- 1 cup onion, chopped
- 6 cloves garlic, minced
- 1 medium zucchini, grated using the large holes of a box grater
- 1 tablespoon dried oregano
- 1 cup crushed tomatoes
- 2 pints grape tomatoes
- 1 cup fresh basil leaves, torn by hand
- 1/2 cup fresh flat leaf parsley, chopped
- salt and pepper to taste
- 1/2 cup shredded parmesan cheese
- Pre-heat oven to 375°. Cover an 8″ x 11″ baking dish with non-stick cooking spray and set aside.
- With a large spoon scoop the spaghetti squash flesh out of the shell and into a large bowl. Set aside.
- Pour half of the olive oil into a large skillet, heat to medium and swirl the olive oil fully covering the bottom and sides of the pan.
- Add the whole sausage links to the pan and cook over medium until browned all over.
- Leaving the juices in the pan, transfer the sausage to a bowl and let cool.
- Add the remaining olive oil, onion and garlic to the pan, stirring well to get up all the bits of sausage.
- When the onion begins to turn clear, add the zucchini and oregano and stir well.
- Add the crushed tomatoes, stir well and remove from heat.
- Transfer the vegetable mixture to the bowl of spaghetti squash.
- To the bowl add the grape tomatoes, basil and parsley and toss well to thoroughly combine.
- Taste for salt and pepper and adjust seasonings if needed.
- Transfer mixture to baking dish and, if using parmesan, scatter the cheese evenly over the top of the casserole.
- Bake 25-30 minutes or until the grape tomatoes become soft to the touch.