Spaghetti Squash with Bolognese Sauce

Continuing on with the theme from my last two Wednesday posts, I am again posting something healthy and hearty. I know I use this phrase a lot, but that is because I think a lot of healthy meals out there are great, but often leave you still hungry for more food at the end of the meal. And often, this undoes the healthiness of the original meal because you get hungry sooner and end up snacking. So for my Wednesday posts through the end of February, I am going to try to give you lots of yummy and filling meals that will also keep you on track with any health related new years resolutions you made. Today’s post is: spaghetti squash with bolognese sauce.

I came up with this recipe because Dave is a big fan of pasta, and loves to make bolognese sauce. But I tend to avoid eating too much pasta, so I decided this was the perfect compromise because he could make the sauce and serve it on pasta, and I could serve my portion on spaghetti squash, which is very easy to make!

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Ingredients (serves 4)
Sauce:
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 pound ground beef (preferably 80/20, but you can use 90/10 if you are being health conscious – then again, this is BOLOGNESE sauce)
1 yellow onion, chopped
8 to 12 oz baby bella mushrooms, sliced
Good quality marinara sauce (Dave swears by Rao’s, but as long as it’s not a generic supermarket brand, you’ll be fine)
1 teaspoon paprika
Freshly ground black pepper & sea salt, to taste

Optional:
1/3 cup frozen peas
2 medium sized carrots, diced
Cayenne pepper

1 pound pasta or 2 spaghetti squash (or do 1/2 pound pasta and 1 spaghetti squash if you want to do some of both)

1. Get started with the sauce. Heat a large, heavy pan (9-12 inches) over medium heat. Add onions and olive oil and saute. Cook five minutes, until softened, and then add mushrooms. Cook another five minutes until liquid is released.

2. Add ground beef and turn up the heat on the pan to high. Use a spatula or wooden spoon to break up the beef into small chunks, which will accelerate the cooking process. Add liberal amounts of black pepper and sea salt, and cook until meat is browned. If including vegetables in the recipe, add them here. You should be stirring often.

3. Add marinara sauce to your liking. Some prefer a tomato-y sauce, while others prefer very little. It’s up to you. Dave and I err on the side of adding more (you can also add more at the end if you realize you don’t have enough). Once the mixture begins to bubble, turn the temperature down and let it simmer. Even better, if you have a cover, throw that on your pan. The heat will do the rest of the work – the longer you allow the sauce to simmer, the thicker it will be.

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4. While the sauce is cooking you can go ahead and prepare the squash. Preheat the oven to 375 degrees. Half the spaghetti squash and scoop out the middle of each half. Place the squash in a baking dish (I did a 9×13 pan). You want to put the side that you’ve scooped out facing down. Fill the bottom of the pan with water. Bake for 30 to 35 minutes. Once the squash is done cooking, use a fork to comb back and forth. The squash should easily loosen and you can place it into a bowl.

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5. If you are also doing pasta, you will want to get that cooked before you finish the sauce.

6. Once the sauce and spaghetti squash (and or pasta) are ready, just put a large spoonful of sauce on top of the squash and serve! Some fresh parmesan is also a great addition on top.

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