When I need a meal that is simple and healthy, this is that dish. When I need a meal that feeds a pasta craving, this is also that dish. The longest part of this meal involves baking the spaghetti squash, but you really only need about an hour for that, or you can bake it ahead of time and pull it from the fridge when you are ready. Otherwise, the rest of the meal really only takes about 20 minutes to put together – which is sometimes just about as much time as I want to focus on cooking after a long day at the office. Feel free to adjust the seasonings as they fit for you, but I’ve hopefully given you a pretty good starting point below. Enjoy!
Typically when I make this, it’s a last minute decision after stopping at the store on the way home from work. The moment I get home, I pop on the oven and set to baking the spaghetti squash to get things rolling. Now, if you’ve ever tried to cut a spaghetti squash in half, you know what an impossible feat this seems to be. You may have heard about the microwave tip – but if not, I highly recommend using it. I throw the whole squash in the microwave for about 3 minutes, but you may need more time depending on the size of the squash, but it softens it enough to get the knife through much easier. Be careful, though – it’s usually good and hot by this time. Once you cut it in half, scoop out the seeds, place the two halves into a baking dish with the cut sides facing up, then drizzle with a bit of olive oil and oregano, with a dash of salt and pepper. (Some people bake it cut side down – do what works for you, I find cut side up to work best for me.) Bake on 400 degrees for 45-60 minutes, depending on the size of the squash.
While the squash is baking, you can work through the next steps, keeping in mind that it will only take about 20 minutes. Sometimes I wait until the squash is nearly done to get things rolling, and sometimes I get it ready right away and just let it simmer on low for even longer – the choice is yours. For this preparation, I used ground turkey to keep a bit more on the lean side, but I often use ground beef when I want a richer flavor. In either a deep skillet or dutch oven, add a bit of olive oil and the garlic and onion, and cook over medium heat for about two minutes until the onions are translucent. Add the ground turkey, sprinkle in about a teaspoon of Italian seasoning and stir frequently until browned (or cooked through – turkey doesn’t always “brown”). If you end up with lots of excess water in the pan from the meat, you can either drain the meat mixture then return it to the pan, or, I prefer to kick the heat up a notch and cook off the extra moisture.
Next, I stir in one can of tomato sauce and one can of diced tomatoes. I usually end up only using about 2/3 of the can of the diced tomatoes, but that’s because my husband is not a huge tomato fan and I try to lighten it up just a tad for him. Add in some oregano and a bit more Italian seasoning along with 5-7 torn leaves of fresh basil. Dried basil can be used, but the fresh basil really is the key to this dish. After about 10 minutes of a covered, low simmer, you should be ready to serve. Remember, you can let it simmer even longer – the longer the simmer, the stronger the flavor!
After removing your spaghetti squash from the oven, use a spoon or even a fork to scoop out the insides, which should form spaghetti-like strands. Serve the meat sauce mixture over the top and enjoy!
Paleo “Spaghetti” and Meat Sauce
- 1 spaghetti squash
- 1/2 tsp oregano for the squash
- 1 Tbs olive oil for the squash
- dash of salt & pepper
- 1 pound ground turkey or beef
- 1 Tbsp olive oil (or coconut oil)
- 15oz. can tomato sauce
- 14.5oz can diced tomatoes
- 1-2 cloves of garlic, depending on taste (I use 2)
- Half of a medium yellow onion, diced
- 5-7 leaves of basil (torn) – the more you use, the sweeter the taste
- 1 tsp Italian seasoning, then 1 Tbsp Italian seasoning
- 1 tsp oregano
- salt & pepper to taste
- Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Cut the spaghetti squash in half, scoop out the seeds and place in a glass baking dish – cut side up. Drizzle with olive oil, oregano, salt & pepper. Bake for 45-60 minutes, depending on the size of the squash.
- In a deep skillet or dutch oven, heat the olive oil, diced onion and garlic over medium heat for approximately 2 minutes, or until the onion is translucent.
- Add the ground turkey (or beef) and 1 tsp of Italian seasoning. Stir frequently until browned or cooked through.
- Stir in the tomato sauce and diced tomatoes, add in the remaining ingredients (1 Tbs Italian seasoning, 1 tsp oregano, 5-7 torn basil leaves, salt & pepper to taste). Cover and simmer on low for 10 minutes, stirring occasionally.
- Remove the spaghetti squash when it is done and carefully scoop the squash out so that is forms spaghetti-like strands. Serve the meat sauce over the squash and enjoy!