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Friday, April 3, 2020  Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883
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Let spaghetti squash bowls carry savory beans, escarole and sausage to the table

Roasted halves of spaghetti squash serve as edible bowls filled with a savory, saucy mixture of sage-perfumed white beans, greens and just enough poultry sausage to offer a punch of flavor while keeping the dish in the healthful zone. Curly or Lacinato kale leaves may be substituted for the escarole if desired. (Laura Chase de Formigny/For The Washington Post)
Roasted halves of spaghetti squash serve as edible bowls filled with a savory, saucy mixture of sage-perfumed white beans, greens and just enough poultry sausage to offer a punch of flavor while keeping the dish in the healthful zone. Curly or Lacinato kale leaves may be substituted for the escarole if desired. (Laura Chase de Formigny/For The Washington Post)
By Ellie Krieger Special to the Washington Post

Aside from getting to eat it, the best thing about making spaghetti squash is the experience of scraping it out of its baked shell, gently running a fork through it to unleash the golden, noodle-like strands. It’s a simple but wondrous task usually accomplished in the kitchen as part of the meal prep – but in this recipe it is integral to the eating experience.

Here roasted squash halves are served intact as edible bowls filled with a savory, saucy mixture of sage-perfumed white beans, greens and chicken or turkey sausage. To make it, you halve a couple of squash lengthwise, scoop out the seeds, slather the cut sides with oil and roast them until they soften. (You can do this a few days ahead, keep the cooked squash in an airtight container in the refrigerator, then warm it before filling.)

The stuffing, a riff on a traditional pasta dish, works well flavor-wise because the squash not only looks and feels spaghetti-like, it also has a subtle, savory taste without the sweetness of other varieties. The combination of hearty white beans, escarole and just enough sausage to punch up the flavor – plus onions, garlic, sage and red pepper flakes – is simmered in a skillet with chicken broth to create a light sauce.

Escarole, a leafy green in the chicory family (sometimes sold as chicory) with a gentle, appealing bitterness, retains some texture with cooking. It is ideal here, and a nice change of pace, but curly or Lacinato kale leaves would also work well.

The filled squash is then sprinkled with cheese and broiled until beautifully browned. It’s a dish that has quite a presence on the plate, and digging into it means that squash prep step saved in the kitchen becomes each diner’s delight.

Spaghetti Squash Stuffed With Escarole, White Beans and Turkey Sausage

2 medium spaghetti squash (about 3 pounds each)

2 tablespoons olive oil, divided

1 small onion, diced (about 1 cup)

6 ounces (about 2 links) Italian-style sweet chicken sausage, casings removed and crumbled

3 cloves garlic, sliced

1 medium head escarole, rinsed, drained and roughly chopped (about 8 cups)

1 (14-ounce) can low-sodium cannellini beans, drained and rinsed

1 cup low-sodium chicken broth

1 tablespoon chopped fresh sage leaves (or 1 teaspoon dried)

1/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes

1/4 teaspoon kosher salt

1/8 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

1/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese

Position the rack in the middle of the oven and preheat to 400 degrees.

Cut the stem end off each squash, then cut each squash in half lengthwise, scoop out the seeds and brush the cut sides with 1 tablespoon of the oil. Place the squash halves, cut side down, on a large, rimmed baking pan and roast for about 40 minutes, until softened and the cut sides are browned.

While the squash halves roast, in a large deep skillet, heat the remaining tablespoon of oil. Add the onion and cook until softened, about 3 minutes. Stir in the sausage and cook until browned, breaking it up with a spoon as it cooks, about 5 to 8 minutes.

Add the garlic and cook, stirring, for 1 minute more. Add the escarole and cook until wilted, about 3 minutes. Add the beans, chicken broth, sage, red pepper flakes, salt and pepper and simmer until the mixture is heated through and the liquid is reduced by about half, 3 to 5 minutes.

When the squash is ready, remove it from the oven and preheat the broiler to low. Flip the squash over on the sheet pan, cut side up, and fill each half with the sausage mixture. Sprinkle with the cheese. Broil about 3 minutes, until the cheese is melted and browned.

Divide the squash halves among 4 plates and serve.

Notes: To make the squash easier to cut, you can precook them in the microwave for about 2 minutes.

Make ahead: The squash may be roasted up to 3 days ahead and refrigerated in an airtight container. Warm before filling.

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