A heaping bowl of spaghetti squash mixed with sauteed zucchini and covered in a beef and mushroom ragu is my idea of heaven. All of the flavors work so well together and this pasta-like squash gets the attention it deserves. This dish loaded with vegetables is really delicious.
Ingredients for Spaghetti Squash Ragu:
5 pounds spaghetti squash, 1 large or 2 smaller ones
1 pound zucchini, quartered and sliced
10 ounces mushrooms, stems discarded and caps sliced
3/4 pound ground beef
1/2 cup white wine or dry vermouth
3 cups tomato sauce
2 stalks celery, diced
1 carrot, diced
1 medium onion, diced
3 cloves garlic, minced
a small handful of basil leaves
1/4 teaspoon smoked paprika
If you would like to make this a vegetarian meal I would suggest doubling the amount of mushrooms.
Time-Saving Tip: All of the vegetables can be prepped in advance. The squash can be cooked, made into spaghetti, and cooled for later. The ragu (sauce) can be made in advance and reheated.
Let's see what we need.
Preheat the oven to 425 degrees. Carefully cut the squash in half lengthwise. I find holding it with paper towels helps to keep the squash from moving while cutting. Place the halves cut-side down on a parchment-lined cookie sheet. Bake until just tender; test by piercing the squash with a fork or a knife. Do not overcook. This should take about 45 minutes for a halved 5 - pound squash. If you are using two smaller ones the cooking time will be less.
Once cooked, turn the squash over and scoop out the seeds. Pressing gently on the squash, drag a fork on the surface to make spaghetti-like strands. Scoop out and set aside.
While the squash is baking cut up the vegetables.
Now to make the ragu. Saute onions, carrots, and celery in 2 tablespoons of olive oil. Be sure to season with salt and pepper. Cook for 5 minutes, stirring frequently. Do not brown. Add the meat and season with smoked paprika, salt, and pepper. Saute 2 minutes and add the mushrooms; season again. Cook another minute or two and then add the vermouth or wine. Simmer 2 minutes and then add the sauce. Partially cover the pot an simmer for about 20-25 minutes until slightly thickened.
Season the zucchini with salt and pepper. Saute in 2 tablespoons of olive oil over medium-high heat. The idea is to cook the zucchini quickly and brown it. After 3-5 minutes add the garlic and cook about 30 seconds until fragrant. Toss in the squash and the tear up the basil and add that as well. Now, the dish is ready to be plated. First the squash mixture and top it off with ragu.
It's ready! It looks awesome and tastes even better. Feel free to serve family style in a large bowl or individual servings. Brad loved this dish and so did I. You can also pass around a little grated Parmesan cheese to top it off.