I am very lucky to have so many friends with green thumbs. I have been given so many wonderful, home grown vegetables that are so full of flavor and so fresh. Once I get them, I can’t wait to come up with a tasty recipe and cook them right up. The other day, a good friend of mine presented me with a delicious, fresh-from-the-garden spaghetti squash. Like the name says, it is often used as a substitute for spaghetti and other pastas because of it’s spaghetti-like qualities when it is cooked. This is a delicious, lighter and healthier version of “pasta”. I use it this way quite frequently too. The spaghetti squash was a good-sized one, and since I am only cooking for my husband and myself, I only used half of it. I have some other really good ideas on how to cook the other half. You’ll just have to wait and see what I come up with. 🙂 This time though, I cooked it Cajun style, with chicken (next time, I am going to add Andouille sausage as well). I served it with some Southern cheddar and garlic biscuits and a cool crisp chardonnay. Because it is spicy, and has a little bit of a tomato base, I could have easily served a light-bodied red too, like a Beaujolais, but I chose chardonnay instead.
Cooking this dish was a layered process. My first step was to prepare the squash with a little salt & pepper and olive oil and then bake the it for a half hour. While that was baking, I prepared and cooked all the rest of the ingredients. Once the squash is done, remove it from the oven and let it cool.
Step #2 – I cubed the chicken and tossed it in Cajun spices, then cooked it in olive oil until the chicken was browned and completely cooked, for about 7 minutes. Next time, I will also add some Andouille sausage as well.
Step #3 – Once the chicken is cooked, remove it from the pan, and in the same oil, cook your onions, peppers and garlic until soft and translucent, or about 3 minutes. Then add the tomatoes and cheese and toss everything together. Mix with the chicken and sausage (if using) and set aside.
Step #4 – Once the squash has cooled, take a fork and scrape all the insides out into the bowl with the chicken and vegetables. Mix everything together and then pour everything into a baking dish sprayed with cooking spray. Top with additional cheese and bake again for about 20-25 minutes or until the edges are a little crispy and the cheese on top has melted.
Voila! Dinner is served.
Cajun Style Spaghetti Squash with Chicken
2 medium spaghetti squash, cut in half
salt and pepper
2 lbs chicken, cubed
1-1 1/2 lbs of Andouille sausage, cooked and sliced (optional)
2 TBSP Cajun spice
3/4 onion, diced
1-1 1/2 heaping TBSP garlic
1 each, red and green bell pepper, diced fine
1 jalapeno, diced fine
3 Roma tomatoes, diced
5 oz of Jack or Mozzarella cheese
Parmagiano Cheese, shredded
parsley, chopped fine
Preheat oven to 350* F
Cut the squash in half and sprinkle with olive oil, salt & pepper. Bake for 30 minutes. While the squash is cooking, prepare and cook the rest of the ingredients, separately.
Coat the chicken with the Cajun spices and cook in olive oil for about 5-7 minutes, or until browned and cooked completely. Once the chicken is cooked, remove it from the heat and set aside. In the same pan, with the same oil, cook the peppers, onions and garlic for about 3 minutes, or until soft and translucent, then add the tomatoes and some of the soft cheese. Toss everything together and add to the chicken.
Once the squash is cooked and has cooled, scrape out the insides with a fork and add to the chicken and vegetables. Spray a baking dish with cooking spray and add the chicken and squash mixture to the dish. Top with the rest of the soft cheese and bake again for an additional 20-25 minutes, or until the edges start to crisp and brown and the top cheese is melted. Remove from the oven and top with shredded Parmagiano cheese and chopped parsley.