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For this week’s edition of “Cents”-able and Savory, I’m thrilled to feature a guest post from Alta of Tasty Eats at Home. While Alta’s recipes are often simple and always from scratch, they never lack in flavor, color, or freshness. She makes eating well and cooking at home sound so appealing that after reading her posts, I’m always eager to get cooking in my own kitchen! Visit her blog for healthy, gluten-free inspiration.
When Hallie contacted me and asked if I would participate in her “Cents”-able and Savory series, I jumped at the chance. While I love to splurge on tasty food once in a while, our daily budget certainly won’t allow it on a regular basis. In order to stretch our dollar when it comes to meals, I try to plan wisely. In fact, I have a process that, while not perfect, works pretty well for me.
First, I jot down what we have in our pantry, freezer, and refrigerator that needs to be used up. I then scour the weekly grocery ads, and consider what is in season, and what I can likely pick up for cheap at the farmer’s market. This information forms the backbone of the menu plan for the week, as I create recipes (or search for them through cookbooks and food blogs!) using these ingredients. I’ll make my grocery list as I go, noting what ingredients I need to complete the recipes. Often times, this is a project that occurs throughout the week in small increments of time. Then, once I do my grocery shopping, the process starts all over again.
This recipe is one that was born of this practice. Surveying my freezer, I found half of a pound of Italian sausage, and tomatoes that were left over from the salsa I made a few weeks back. As winter squashes are starting to come into season (although they’re pretty inexpensive year-round), I decided to pick up a spaghetti squash to complete the meal. The result was a light, healthy, grain-free meal that was a breeze to throw together. I think I just might have to purposely have “leftover” Italian sausage again soon!
Italian-Style Spaghetti Squash
1 large spaghetti squash
½ lb Italian turkey sausage, mild or hot (check to be sure it is gluten-free)
1 T grapeseed oil
1 medium yellow onion, diced
3 garlic cloves, minced
1 15-oz can whole tomatoes (or an equivalent amount of fresh tomatoes, peeled and seeded)
1 c chicken stock
1 6-oz can tomato paste
1 T chopped fresh parsley
2 T chopped fresh basil, divided
4 chopped sage leaves
1 t Italian seasoning
Salt to taste
20 pitted olives
Cook the spaghetti squash: You can do this two ways, in the oven or in the microwave.
In the oven: Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Cut spaghetti squash in half lengthwise and scrape out seeds and pulp with a spoon like you would a pumpkin. Roast, cut side down, on a baking sheet for 30-40 minutes or until tender. Remove and allow to cool for a few minutes. Using a fork, pull the strands of squash from the rind.
In the microwave: Poke holes in the squash all over with a knife. Microwave on a plate for 6-8 minutes or until squash gives when pressed. Carefully remove from microwave and allow to cool enough to touch. Cut in half lengthwise and scrape out seeds and pulp like you would a pumpkin. Using a fork, pull the strands of squash from the rind.
While your squash is cooking, heat a skillet over medium heat. Crumble the sausage and brown in the skillet until sausage is no longer pink. Set aside.
In a medium saucepan, add oil and heat to medium heat. Add the onion and sauté for 4-5 minutes or until softened. Add the garlic and sauté for another minute. Add the tomatoes, stock, tomato paste, parsley, half of the basil, and the sage, and bring to a low boil. Reduce to a simmer and add the Italian seasoning and salt. Simmer for 20 minutes.
Serve by placing spaghetti squash on plate and ladling sauce over. Top with a few olives and remaining basil.
Serves about 4.
If you’ve missed the past two weeks of budget-friendly “Cents”-able and Savory recipes, here’s a re-cap:
- Week One: Five-Minute BBQ Sauce
- Week Two: Twice Baked Acorn Squash with Beef and Vegetable Filling