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Spaghetti Squash (or Spaghetti) with Meat Sauce, Italian Sausage, and Ricotta

Andria
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Spaghetti Squash (or Spaghetti) with Meat Sauce, Italian Sausage, and Ricotta

Pair this simple, flavorful meat sauce with creamy ricotta and spaghetti squash (or traditional spaghetti) for a cozy, satisfying meal.

On this super chilly weekend, let’s make something super warm. Spaghetti Squash (or Spaghetti) with Meat Sauce, Italian Sausage, and Ricotta is what we’ll be eating. 

The meat sauce here is very simple: some ground beef and sausage with a doctored-up jar of marinara. What makes it special is the big pieces of Italian sausage (hot or sweet, however you like it) that add both flavor and heft. Not much to do, and not many ingredients. The ricotta is the creamy addition that might seem odd but really just adds another special element to a simple dish. It’s mild and creamy, and cool against the hot sauce. 

Spaghetti squash: let’s debate. We like it because it gives us the feeling of eating pasta while we’re actually eating a veggie. We also love the sweet taste of spaghetti squash. But if you don’t have it, or you don’t like it, or you just think, “Ugh – why would you ruin a good meat sauce with veggies?” don’t even think about it and use whatever pasta you like.

Stay warm, people! 

Spaghetti Squash (or Spaghetti) with Meat Sauce, Italian Sausage, and Ricotta

1 pound lean ground beef
2 links Italian sausage (hot or sweet), cut into 1 ½-inch pieces
Kosher salt
Freshly ground pepper
1 yellow onion, chopped
4 cloves garlic, chopped
1 24-ounce jar marinara (use your favorite, we like Rao’s)
½ cup basil leaves, plus more for garnish
1 spaghetti squash*
½ cup ricotta

Brown the meat and sausage in a large, heavy pot over medium-low heat. To do this, add the meat to the pot and break it up with a wooden spoon. Then add the sausage. Let everything cook for about 5 minutes without touching it. Season with ½ teaspoon salt and ¼ teaspoon pepper, stir, and let it sit again. Do this until the meat browns in spots. Scoop any excess fat out of the pot with a ladle, tilting the pot to make it easier.

Turn the heat to low, add the onion and garlic, and season with another ½ teaspoon salt and ¼ teaspoon pepper. Cook another 7 minutes or so, until the onion is soft, stirring occasionally. Pour the marinara into the pot, then fill the jar halfway with water, and add that. Tear the ½ cup basil over the pot and add it, then stir. Partially cover the pot and simmer for 1 hour. 

To cook the spaghetti squash, first cut it in half: Place the squash on a kitchen towel to stabilize it, then slice it from the stem to the bottom. The squash is hard to cut, so cut through one side to the middle, then the other. With both hands, pull the two halves apart. Scoop out the seeds with a spoon.

Place the squash cut-side down in a glass baking dish and fill with about ¾ of an inch of water. Microwave on high for 20 minutes. When it is done, you will be able to poke a fork easily into the skin of the squash. Transfer the squash halves to the kitchen towel (again to stabilize), and scrape the strands out of each side with a fork. Place the “spaghetti” in a colander set over a bowl to drain. You can press down gently on the squash to remove extra water.

Serve the spaghetti squash topped with meat sauce and a dollop of ricotta. Garnish with basil leaves.

*If you prefer traditional spaghetti, use it!

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