Turkey and Vegetable Ragu with Spaghetti Squash

I’m so excited about this one because I’ve been so intrigued by (but oddly intimidated by) spaghetti squash, and I finally dipped my toes in the spaghetti squash pool! And I apologize in advance, but there’s a strong possibility that there will be a lot of spaghetti squash in my kitchen in the foreseeable future. What was I waiting for?? This stuff rules. Crazy bonus points to this amazing ingredient for being super fun to handle, being very easy for tiny hands to work with, and totally kid-approved.

A ragù is a meat-based sauce. Simple as that. Coming off of vacation, there wasn’t a lot in the house, so I made a trip to the grocery store on our first day back and mainly got excited about the veggies. What we did have in the house was some (frozen) ground turkey, so I thought about the beautiful veggies I saw and that turkey and came up with this dinner. It was fresh, healthy, and, actually quite filling. While a traditional ragù is often served over pasta, I didn’t want to use the spaghetti squash and pretend I was serving my family spaghetti, so instead of cooking the squash and the sauce separately, I integrated them into a glorious one-pot meal. And here you go.

* 1 medium-to-large spaghetti squash
* olive oil
* 1 lb ground turkey
* 1/2 a large sweet onion
* 2t (heaping) minced garlic (about 4 cloves)
* 1 29-oz can low sodium tomato sauce
* 1 15-oz can crushed tomatoes
* 1T dried oregano
* 1t dried basil
* 1/2t salt, plus a pinch
* 1/4t ground black pepper, plus a pinch
* 1 medium zucchini
* 1 medium yellow squash
* 1 large red pepper
* 1/2 a large (or 1 small) carrotturvegragu1

Prepare your spaghetti squash for roasting first. Be forewarned, this meal takes just a little pre-planning. You need 45 minutes to roast the squash (unless you do it in the microwave, which my mother in-law suggested, and which I might need to investigate in the interest of time-saving…).

Preheat the oven to 350F, and carefully cut your spaghetti squash in half lengthwise.

turvegragu2This is very hard to do. The outside of the squash is incredibly tough to cut through. Make sure you have a big, sharp knife and patience. Working this one without patience could find you in a bit of trouble, and maybe the ER. Yeesh!

Anyway, carefully cut your squash in half and then scoop out the seeds in the middle, leaving only the flesh. Place the halves, cut side up, on a baking sheet. Drizzle with olive oil and a pinch of salt and pepper. Roast in your preheated oven for 45 minutes.

While the squash is roasting (or you can prepare the squash ahead and then make the rest of the sauce before serving), brown your turkey over medium heat, breaking it up in to crumbles. When it’s mostly browned through and little pink remains, add half a sweet onion, chopped, and the minced garlic. Mix through and continue to cook allowing the onion pieces to soften and begin to appear clear.

Add in the tomato sauce and crushed tomatoes next, reduce heat to medium-low, and simmer about 10 minutes.

While the sauce begins to combine and warm, chop the zucchini, yellow squash, and pepper. Peel the carrot.

Add the chopped veggies to the pot and mix them through. Then grate the carrot directly into the sauce and mix everything through, continuing to simmer.

Reduce heat to low and continue to simmer while you get your spaghetti squash ready. Using a fork, simply scrape at the flesh of your roasted squash. It will just loosely fall into spaghetti-like strands – AMAZING! My tiny sous chef LOVED this part. She just thought it was the coolest thing in the world. And then she agreed to taste it, and we got even more excited. I had to pull her hands out of the squash because she was going to eat the whole thing! Winner. This is our new favorite food.

turvegragu9turvegragu10Just before you’re ready to serve, add your spaghetti squash to the ragù. If you have time, strain it a bit, because it’s pretty watery. That said, your ragù will be pretty thick, so unless you’re super worried about the liquid ratio being thrown off, you need not stress. It’s fine. Mix your squash through and let it cook just a few minutes with the rest of the sauce.

Serve with some sliced Italian bread on the side, and a little shaved Parmesan garnish, and you are good to go. And everyone will be happy. I still can’t get over how well the squash went over with little tiny. Just high-fiving myself left and right for getting her to eat all those veggies and fall in love with a new one. Mom For The Win!

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