I haven’t been this excited about a dinner in a long time. I will never be able to turn away from the temptation of the first winter squash to appear in the market. The fall and winter in my kitchen see a constant supply of acorn, butternut, delicata, and spaghetti squash. And while I did just make walnut pumpkin bread at the very first whiff of fall, I always prefer savory squash dishes like soup, curry, and risotto.
Now, I have made many a spaghetti squash bake in my time, but friends, this is my pièce de la résistance. Sure, heavy cream doesn’t hurt its ranking, but there is so much more going on here. A dreamy squash cream sauce, a touch of heat, and umami from the sausage, this bake is comforting and feels like you’re secretly doing something good for your body with all that squash and kale.
If you can’t find kabocha, substitute acorn squash, and if you’re in a pinch, use canned pumpkin. Most importantly, get a spaghetti squash and be good to yourself.
Spaghetti Squash Bake with Kabocha Cream Sauce & Sausage
1 spaghetti squash
1 kabocha squash (green or red)
1 large yellow onion, diced
Salt and pepper
½ pound spicy Italian sausage, casing removed
½ pound mild Italian sausage, casing removed
1 teaspoon fennel seed
½ to 1 teaspoon red pepper flakes, tastes depending, optional
1 clove garlic, minced
1 bunch dino kale
¾ cup heavy cream
1 ½ cups shredded mozzarella
¼ cup grated Parmesan
Pierce the skin of both squash several times with a paring knife, and place on a sheet tray into a cold oven. Then heat the oven to 375°F, and bake the kabocha for 40 to 50 minutes and the spaghetti squash for 60 to 75 minutes or until a paring knife is inserted easily. Remove, set aside, and leave the oven on.
In a large sauté pan, heat about a tablespoon of olive oil over medium heat, and then add the onion with a pinch of salt. Cook, stirring occasionally for 10 minutes or until lightly browned. Push all of the onion to one side of the pan, and add another drizzle of oil to the empty spot on the skillet. Add the sausage, fennel, and pepper flakes to the pan. Using a wooden spatula, break up the meat into small pieces, and cook for 5 minutes, or until the pink of the meat is no longer visible, and during the last minute, stir together with the onions and add the garlic.
While the onion and sausage mixture is cooking, remove the ribs from the kale and cut into large bite-sized pieces. Once the sausage mixture is finished cooking, turn the heat off, add the kale, and mix together gently to wilt.
Cut the kabocha squash in half, remove the seeds with a spoon and the skin with a knife. Cut the kabocha into large cubes and add to a blender. Add the cream and a big pinch of salt and pepper. Blend until smooth and taste for salt and pepper. (The sauce will be flavoring all of the spaghetti squash, so its seasoning should stand up.)
Cut the spaghetti squash in half lengthwise and remove the seeds being careful not to remove too many squash strands. Working the short way across each half, use a fork to scrape the spaghetti squash out into long pieces. Add these to a 9×13 baking dish.
Pour 3 cups of the kabocha cream sauce over the spaghetti squash and add the sausage mixture. Using two spoons, mix everything together. Top with the mozzarella and Parmesan. Bake in 375°F oven for 25 to 35 minutes or until the cheese is brown and bubbly. Enjoy hot.