The moment I’ve been waiting for since February is finally here: I was able to cook a real meal in my kitchen (Read: not a chicken breast and a foil packet of veggies cooked on the grill)! Since we embarked on our kitchen water damage repair remodel project, I’ve wanted to do nothing but cook elaborate meals. But when you’re stuck with a grill, microwave and electric skillet as your means for cooking, it’s pretty limiting. Granted, I got as creative as I could, whipping up marinades for meats and experimenting with veggie combos (mushroom and leeks are delicious together, by the way!), but at the end of the day, things were starting to get pretty repetitive.
Which brings me to the fact that our kitchen is ALMOST done! All that’s left now is our backsplash and a few finishing touches like under-cabinet lights, a little painting and installation of the cabinet pulls. We are officially in the home stretch. I was finally able to unpack all my kitchen goodies and restock my cabinets, and it was like reuniting with old friends: Oh, hello, food processor! Good to see you, mandoline! Hey there, ice cream maker!
Anyhow, so obviously, with the kitchen fully functioning, I was chomping at the bit to cook one of the recipes I’ve been drooling over on Pinterest the last few months. I decided to risk it and try something new—which, if you’ve had the same luck I’ve had on Pinterest, means there was a 50/50 chance of it actually turning out well.
Let me just tell you. I. Lucked. Out. I chose a recipe I found from Paleo Grubs (which she adapted from a recipe on Stupid Easy Paleo) for a sausage, kale and spaghetti squash dish. First of all, I love spaghetti squash, and with no oven, I haven’t had it in months. Secondly, it called for one of my favorite cased meats: sausage (there’s probably a dirty joke there somewhere). The recipe said to use Italian chicken sausage, but my go-to is always Jennie O Spicy Italian Turkey Sausage (P.S. I’m totally not getting paid by them; I’m just a huge fan of their products). I love the extra heat it adds to any recipe.
It’s a super simple recipe, and the flavor comes from the sausage, onions, garlic and red pepper flakes. There’s no actual sauce. In fact, when I put a plate of it in front of the hubs, he said, “Shouldn’t there be some kind of sauce on this?” He tried a bite and literally ate his words. No sauce needed, my friends—not with this much flavor!
This is definitely going to be a new staple in our house when it comes down to serving spaghetti squash. It’s such a great change from our typical spaghetti squash with turkey Bolognese (you must try this Martha Stewart recipe for that, by the way. It’s bomb.)
Oh, and it’s super good for you, too. It’s a tad high in fat, thanks to the sausage, but a serving has less than 325 calories!
As a side note, if you’re not big into spicy foods, you can easily tone down the heat by using regular Italian turkey sausage and omitting the red pepper flakes.
Without further ado, here it is.
Spicy Turkey Sausage and Kale Spaghetti Squash
Adapted from Paleo Grubs
1 medium spaghetti squash
4 Jennie O Spicy Italian Turkey Sausages, casings removed
1 yellow onion, diced
4 cloves garlic, minced
1 bunch Tuscan (a.k.a., dinosaur/Lacinato) kale
1 tbsp extra virgin olive oil, plus 1.5 tsp for drizzling
1/2 tsp red pepper flakes (or more if you like a little heat! I used closer to 1 tsp)
Salt and pepper
2 tbsp fresh flat-leaf parsley, chopped
4 tbsp fresh grated Parmesan (technically this is optional, but why would you ever skip the cheese?!)
1. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. Carefully cut the squash in half lengthwise. My trick for cutting squash is to cut off both ends, then stand the squash up on one end and slice down the middle toward your cutting board. That way it doesn’t roll around too much! Scoop out the seeds and discard. Place the halves with the cut side up on a baking sheet. Drizzle with olive oil and sprinkle with salt and pepper. Roast in the oven for 1 hour, until you can easily shred the squash with a fork. If the squash strands still look a little opaque, flip the squash over so the cut side is down on the pan, then roast for another 5-10 minutes at most.
2. While your squash roasts, trim out the center stems of your kale and discard them. Roughly chop into 1-2” pieces. Heat the olive oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Add the onion and garlic and sauté for 3-4 minutes, stirring frequently. Don’t let the onions brown, but instead let them sweat a bit. Add the turkey sausage and break it apart into crumbles using a spatula. Cook until the sausage is fully browned and no pink remains. Add the kale and stir. Cook for 5-7 minutes to wilt the kale. Remove from heat and set aside.
3. Scrape the insides of the spaghetti squash with a fork to shred the squash into strands (don’t burn your fingers! Use an oven mitt to hold the squash or wait until it’s cooled a bit). Add the squash to the skillet with the sausage, then add the red pepper flakes. Toss to combine. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Dish the squash up onto plates, then top each serving with a generous tablespoon of Parmesan and a sprinkle of parsley. Dig in and enjoy!
Nutritional Estimates (according to MyFitnessPal)
Per serving: 324 calories, 21g fat, 17g carbs, 21g protein, 3g fiber
There you have it, folks! I apologize for my lack of photos on this one. I didn’t know I was going to write a blog post about this recipe … being that I had never tried it before, and it’s a risky move to assume something will turn out so good that you absolutely must photograph every single step of the process. You’ll have to make do with the one Instagram pic I snapped before I could wolf it all down!
If you’re only cooking for two like I was, you can easily cut this recipe in half. Of course, that means you have half of a squash leftover. So for those instances, here’s a few of my favorite ways to use up leftover spaghetti squash:
Spaghetti Squash, Quinoa and Parmesan Fritters, from Julia’s Album
Buffalo Chicken Spaghetti Squash, from Foodologie
Quick Turkey Bolognese with Spaghetti Squash, from Martha Stewart
If you try this recipe out (and you really, really should!), let me know what you think in the comments below. And if you have a tried and true spaghetti squash recipe, I’d love to hear it. I love testing new ones out!