Spaghetti Squash Casserole with Hamburger and Mushrooms

Good old
Google. I have been searching recipes a lot over the last month in an attempt to get motivated, so it offers me new ones daily. One month of living in a rental (so limited cooking) and two months living in our with with no kitchen during major renovations had killed my cooking groove.  Ideas didn't pop up like they used to. 

I took a page from my youngest brother's book and, when uninspired, buy a new cooking gadget and/or try a new recipe.  I have been snagging interesting recipes off the internet for the last month and just received a new gadget to try - a Tagine pot - but haven't used it yet. Today's recipe appeared when I opened my web browser one day.  I tucked the idea away to try in the future.

I have gained a few pounds since the holidays. In response, it seemed wise to cut back on the carbs for a few days. This casserole fit the bill perfectly.  Turns out there are tons of recipes for Spaghetti Squash Casserole.  I explored quite a few, then decided on how to make it work for me. I didn't want to make my own sauce from scratch, so used a store bought one. The jar was about 6 ounces shy, so I added that much water and a couple tablespoons of tomato paste to top it up.  

The casserole was both flavorful and filling. We ate the leftovers the next night.  It does take more time than most dishes I make, so I won't be serving it as often. But it will def appear on my table again soon. Enjoy!

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Spaghetti Squash Casserole with Hamburger and Mushrooms

Ingredients -

2 med. or 1 large             Spaghetti squash (about 3-1/2 to 4 pounds)
2 T                                   Olive oil
1 lb                                  Ground beef
1                                      Sweet onion, diced
1                                      Red bell pepper, diced
1/2 lb                               Mushrooms, coarsely diced or sliced
3 cloves                           Garlic, minced
2 tsp                                Italian herbs
Salt and Pepper
28 oz.                              Store bought spaghetti sauce (SEE NOTE)
1 C                                  Shredded mozzarella cheese
1/4 C                               Freshly grated parmesan cheese
Optional Garnish - fresh basil leaves
NOTE - You can make your own homemade sauce if you like.  The store bought jar I purchased was not a full 28 ounces, so I added 6 oz of water and 3 T tomato paste to make up the difference. 

Instructions -

Cut open the spaghetti squash. Scoop out seeds and pulp with a spoon. Cook the squash in the way you most prefer (roast, microwave or instant pot). You want the cooked squash to have a firm texture, not mushy. Let cool, then scrape out the squash shreds. Prepare a 9 x 13 casserole with cooking spray. 

While the squash is baking, prepare the meat sauce.  Add the hamburger, diced onion and oil to a frying pan and cook just until hamburger is no longer pink. Add the diced red pepper, minced garlic and sliced or diced mushrooms,  Cook until just starting to soften.  Add the dried Italian herbs and the spaghetti sauce. Stir and simmer. Season with salt and pepper to taste. 

If your frying pan is large enough, you can add the spaghetti squash to it and gently mix with the sauce until fully combined. Mine wasn't, so I added the sauce and squash to a large mixing bowl to combine.  Add the mixture into your prepared 9 x 13 casserole and smooth flat with the back of a spoon or a spatula.  Sprinkle the mozzarella and parmesan cheeses on top.  

Preheat your oven to 400 degrees and bake for about 20 minutes, until heated through and the cheese on top has started to brown.  Let set for a few minutes, then use a large spatula to "cut" pieces and lift them out onto individual plates.  Garnish with a fresh basil leaf if you like.