*Photos updated October 2011*
Inspiration: This meal was inspired by a meal that I had a long time ago (on the night that Brandon proposed way back in 2005, actually) when we first went to our now favorite restaurant. I ordered a spicy pasta dish that came with garlic sausage, capocolla ham, sliced hot peppers, olive oil, and romano cheese. When we had some extra spaghetti squash, Brandon suggested recreating a similar dish.
What we Loved: What I like most about this recipe is the spiciness. With the Italian sausage, pepper strips, and plenty of crushed red pepper flakes, the dish is really defined by the nice spicy kick. Second to the spiciness, I love the flavor of the olive oil. Rather than being used for sauteeing or cooking, the oil is mixed into the finished dish purely for the flavor. Since spaghetti squash has such a delicate, mild flavor, you can really taste the olive oil and the nutty, cheesy Parmesan. All around, this is a nice light supper with some good memories attached :)
Helpful Hints: I used finely sliced pancetta in this recipe, but I thought that it ended up getting lost in the final dish. I would suggest using bacon or cubed ham instead. Also, I’d suggest using a nice olive oil and plenty of it, because its flavor is important to the dish.
Spicy Spaghetti Squash with Italian Sausage and Peppers
Source: Original recipe, inspired by The Earle
1 small spaghetti squash
1/2 lb Italian sausage
6 oz pancetta, diced (Alternatively, I would recommend 5-6 slices of diced bacon or about 1/2 cup diced ham)
1 red bell pepper, seeded and sliced
3 anaheim peppers, seeded and sliced
1 small onion, diced
3 cloves garlic, minced
1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese (or more to preference), plus more for serving
Extra virgin olive oil
Kosher salt and black pepper
Crushed red pepper flakes
1. Poke the spaghetti squash all over with a fork, and bake at 350 degrees for about 1 hour. When cool enough to handle, slice the squash in half, remove the seeds, and scrape the strands into a bowl.
2. Add the pancetta or bacon (if using) to a deep saute pan, and saute until the fat is rendered and the pancetta/bacon is browned. Remove to a plate and set aside.
3. In the same pan, add the Italian sausage (& ham, if you are using it instead of pancetta/bacon) and cook until browned. Remove to a plate and set aside.
4. Drain all but a few tablespoons of grease from the pan. Add the peppers and onions to the pan. Cook until softened and slightly browned. Add the garlic, and cook for one minute more.
5. Add the sausage and pancetta/ham back into the pan. Mix in the squash and Parmesan. Drizzle with a good amount of olive oil, and sprinkle liberally with salt, pepper, oregano, and crushed red pepper flakes. Mix to combine.
6. Serve topped with shaved Parmesan and an extra drizzle of olive oil.