Cara’s Spaghetti Squash Torta (Guest Post)
If you haven’t been over to Cara’s blog yet you really must pop over and take a peek – this woman has mastered the art of combining creativity with nutritious ingredients and her results are one clean and delicious dish after the other!
Hello Dani fans! Cara here, from Cara’s Cravings. I’m a big fan of Dani myself and always enjoy seeing what she’s offering up for clean, creative recipes. She and I seem to share much of the same food philosophies: that meals should be comprised of simple ingredients, bursting with good nutrients, and never compromise on flavor.Upon learning that I love cooking and that I highly value health and fitness, people often ask how I balance that. They assume I must drive myself crazy every day by cooking up fattening dishes that I don’t eat. And I’ve been approached by friends asking, “I really want to lose weight and I know I need to eat healthier, but I love to cook! How can I give that up?” You don’t have to. My response is always the same: a love of cooking and good food is a huge advantage when it comes to eating healthy.
If you enjoy cooking and trying new things, you’ll be much more likely to experiment in the kitchen and never get bored with your food. If you still believe the stigma that healthy food is boring (baked chicken and steamed veggies every single day) I invite you to come take a peek at my blog or any of the other hundreds out there brimming with recipes so eclectic and delicious, you’ll want to eat them regardless of being healthy.
Earlier this fall, Dani tweeted asking for some spaghetti squash ideas. I immediately thought of spaghetti squash lasagna I had created a few years ago. Unfortunately, I had never blogged the recipe and the ingredient and instructions I had written out for myself were at best a rough draft. I quickly added this to my list of things to make and blog this autumn. And then, a couple weeks later, Dani tweeted again asking for guest posters. I instantly responded that I would be interested, and I knew that this would be the perfect opportunity to make my spaghetti squash lasagna.
I decided to revamp it a bit. The combination of ingredients I had used in the past I remembered being so delicious, ricotta, pecorino Romano, chicken sausage, mushrooms, and spinach, remained the same, and did not disappoint. But it turned out even better when baked as a torta in a spring form pan rather than plain old lasagna.
This meal delivers all the best qualities of lasagna, but in a much healthier, guilt-free form. Whenever a meal is so delicious and hearty that I am already looking forward to leftovers the next day before I’ve even finished my first serving, I know it’s a success.
We cut it into four very large servings, but it could easily serve six with a salad or vegetable on the side.
*Please note – when my sister made this recipe she accidentally put the veggies on top of the sauce – Cara’s recipe calls for the veggies to be layered under the sauce – Enjoy!
Spaghetti Squash Torta
Yield: 4-6 servings
- 4 cups (620gm) cooked spaghetti squash (see Recipe Notes)
- 1 cup chopped onion
- 1 10oz package baby Portobello mushrooms, thinly sliced
- 4 cloves or garlic, minced
- 2 links pre-cooked chicken sausage, thinly sliced (see Recipe Notes)
- 1/2 teaspoon crushed red pepper
- Salt and pepper
- 1-10oz-package baby spinach
- 1 15oz container part-skim ricotta cheese, divided
- 1 egg
- 1/2 cup (2oz) grated pecorino romano or parmesan cheese
- 1 teaspoon Italian seasoning blend
- 1 1/2 cups tomato-basil marinara sauce (see Recipe Notes)
Makes 4-6 servings.
Preheat oven to 350°F.
In a large skillet coated with nonstick cooking spray, cook the onions over medium-low heat for about 10 minute, until softened. Add the mushrooms and continue cooking for another 5-10 minutes, until they release their moisture. Add the garlic, chicken sausage, and crushed red pepper. Season with salt and pepper. Raise the heat a bit, and cook for another minute, until garlic is fragrant. Finally, add the spinach, a few handfuls at a time, stirring until wilted. Remove from heat.
In a bowl, mix together the spaghetti squash, egg, ricotta cheese, half of the grated pecorino romano, and Italian seasoning.
Lightly coat an 8"or 9" spring-form pan with cooking spray. Place half of the spaghetti squash mixture evenly on the bottom of the pan. Top with half of the vegetable mixture and half of the sauce. Repeat layers. Sprinkle remaining grated cheese on top of the sauce.
Cover tightly with foil and bake for 40 minutes. Remove foil and bake for another 5-10 minutes, until top is browned.
Let stand for 10 minutes, then un-mold and slice.
- Spaghetti squash can be roasted, microwaved, or slow-cooked prior to preparing the recipe. To roast the squash, preheat oven to 400°F. Pierce the squash all over with a sharp knife and place in a baking dish with about 1" of water. Cook for one hour. Remove from oven and let cool. Cut the squash in half, scoop out the seeds, and then use two forks to remove the stringy flesh.
- Chicken sausage can be a great low-fat alternative to traditional pork sausage, but it's important to read the ingredients and nutrition facts. Try to choose one without unnecessary additives. As a rule of thumb, I read the ingredient list and only buy it if I can easily pronounce all the words and know what everything is. For this recipe, I used Sam's Club Spinach and Asiago flavored chicken sausage.
- Similarly, with jarred marinara sauce, I look for a brand with as few ingredients as possible and no added sugar. For this recipe, I used Classico Tomato and Basil Pasta Sauce.
1/4 of the recipe: Calories: 400; Total Fat: 17.2g; Cholesterol: 153.1mg; Carbohydrate: 33.2g; Dietary Fiber: 5.5g; Protein: 29.4g