Renee's Kitchen Adventures

Monday, October 14, 2013

Johnsonville® Sausage, Pepper, Fennel and Spaghetti Squash

This month, Allrecipes has partnered with Johnsonville Kitchens and as Allstars, we have been asked to make several Johnsonville sponsored recipes on AR.  Although many of the Allstars have worked with Johnsonville in the past, I am relatively new to the program and I have not had that pleasure yet.

I've got to tell you...I don't normally cook with pork sausage.  I normally reach for turkey or chicken sausage (Johnsonville makes those too!)  but I wanted to give the pork sausage a try though so I browsed the recipe collection on Allrecipes and was actually pleased to find several recipes that were relatively healthy this one!  Yes, it does use pork sausage, but it is FULL of delicious and healthy vegetables to help balance it all out! 

This recipe is PERFECT for this time of year, when squash is so abundant and priced to sell.  If you have never tried spaghetti are missing out.  It is very mild tasting with a great "spaghetti like" texture AND it makes a healthy replacement for pasta in most dishes.  It can be rather bland on it's own, so serving it with flavorful Johnsonville® sausage makes perfect sense.

You can roast the squash in the oven, but I always opt for the microwave method of steaming it.  In 10 minutes, with almost no fuss, you have perfectly steamed squash ready to top with whatever you like.  In this instance, a delicious "ragu" full of zesty sausage, fennel, green pepper and tomato.

To get started, gather up all your ingredients. (I forgot to add the tomato paste to the photo!)

Start by micro-steaming your spaghetti squash.  Cut it in half.  Scoop out all the seeds and pulp.  Place them face up in a microwavable pan (mine fit perfectly in a 9x13" baking dish).  Season with a bit of salt and pepper and cover with plastic wrap.  10 minutes on HIGH should do it. They can sit covered and continue to steam even if your sauce isn't done yet by the time they are.  

Begin making the sauce by browning the sausage.  A GREAT TIP is to use a potato masher to break the sausage up while cooking it.  This will help the sausage pieces to be more uniform and mix better into the sauce.  Once the sausage is browned, drain off any excess fat, and add in the rest of the ingredients.   Bring to a boil, and turn down to simmer.

While the sauce is simmering, with a fork, scrape out the squash.  YUM.  I love spaghetti squash!

Allow the sauce to simmer until it is thickened and the vegetables are tender.  Serve the sauce on top of the squash.

Johnsonville® Sausage, Pepper, Fennel and Spaghetti Squash

Servings - 6   Serving Size - 1/6th of recipe   Points Plus per Serving - 8 Points+
Calories - 308.2,   Total Fat - 18.2g,   Carb. - 22.2g,   Protein - 14.3g,   Fiber - 4.6g

about a 3lb. spaghetti squash
1-19.7oz. package of Johnsonville Mild Italian Sausage, casings removed
2 TBS tomato paste
1 1/2 cups large diced fresh fennel
1/2 cup diced onion
1/2 cup diced green pepper
1/2 cup coarsely chopped mushrooms
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 - 28 oz. can of whole, peeled tomatoes, drained and crushed
1/4 cup sherry
salt and pepper, to taste

  1. Prepare the spaghetti squash by slicing it in half and scooping out all of the seeds and pulp.  Place both halves in a microsafe pan, cut side up and season with salt and pepper.  Cover tightly with a microwavable safe wrap or lid and microwave on HIGH for about 10 minutes, or until squash is soft and cooked through.   Let stand covered for 5 minutes (or let it stand covered until you are done making the sauce)  With a fork, scrape out the strands of squash just before you are ready to serve. 
  2. While squash is cooking, heat a large nonstick skillet on med-high heat and add the sausage.  Break up with a potato masher while allowing it to brown.  Once it's all browned, drain any fat off and then set the drained, cooked sausage aside in a bowl. 
  3. To the hot pan add the fennel, onion, mushrooms and green pepper.  Saute until the vegetables begin to soften.  Add in the garlic and cook for another minute or so.  Add in the tomato paste and let it cook with the vegetables for about 2 minutes.  Add in the crushed whole tomatoes, the sherry and the reserved sausage.  Let the mixture come to a boil and then turn down to a simmer.  Cook until all the vegetables are soft.  Taste for salt and pepper, and add as desired.  
  4. Serve over the cooked spaghetti squash.  
Adapted from Allrecipes
Wow!  Not only was this a delicious dish, it comes together in no time for a great weeknight meal.  I have to be honest, although I LOVE spaghetti squash, I never served it to my husband before this meal.  I don't know if I just wanted to keep all the squashy goodness to myself...or I was just afraid he would reject it as a "pasta" substitute.  Every time I've made spaghetti squash for myself as a sub for pasta, I've just cooked him pasta.  But not this time...and you know what?  He loved it!  I was shocked...but then again, why should I be shocked, spaghetti squash is awesome!  The Johnsonville® Sausage is really the star of this recipe though. SO MUCH FLAVOR!  I actually found I needed very little salt and pepper to finish it. 

We also enjoyed several other dishes using Johnsonville® Sausage.  

Italian Sausage Market Meatloaf  made with Johnsonville's® new Reduced Fat Chicken and Pork Italian Sausage and ground turkey and stuffed with my favorite Babybel® Mozzarella Style cheese was different and delicious.  Again, the sausage really pumped up the flavor of the meatloaf.  Less fat did not equal less flavor!

  Touchdown Italian Sausage Chili made with Johnsville's® NEW Chicken Sausage Italian Style with Cheese  was a hit!  I did change this recipe a bit, by adding some ground chipotle chili pepper and some broth to loosen it up.  It's a very rich, thick chili.  Once again, the sausage is the star here, imparting some great flavor.  And this variety of their sausage does not have any MSG.  (Several varieties of the sausages they make do, so if you are sensitive to MSG, make sure you read the packaging.)

 To see more awesome Johnsonville® Sausage recipes visit them on Pinterest and check out the Community Sausage Board for more home cook tested and approved recipes using delicious Johnsonville® Sausage. 

(Disclaimer:  I was provided with product for this recipe via Allrecipes as part of the Allstars program.  All opinions expressed in this post are mine.)


  1. I once tried to pass off red quinoa meatballs and spaghetti squash for dinner one time - let's just say it didn't go over so well!

    1. Biz, you gotta try this I think it's the sausage in it that wins it over!

  2. I like all of their sausages so I know I would be a fan of the first dish for sure!! The other two dishes sound tasty as well. I don't know if I could get away with giving my hubs spaghetti!!

  3. Renee, this looks delicious! I had not seen the 50% less fat Italian Sausage. I will have to look for that. I will also have to try this dish. Thanks for sharing!

  4. I do like some spaghetti squash with sage and lemon! Lots of good cooking going on at your house Rene.


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