Chicken Parmesan Squash Casserole

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Hi all!

It’s been too long since I have posted!   Life has this funny talent of getting in the way of our best laid plans.  Our son has begun his journey into toddlerhood which has been both awe inspiring and exasperating to experience.  Keeping him busy and occupied (leave him for a minute and our place is turned to dust!) means I don’t get nearly as much time to sit down and organize my thoughts.
But now!  Here I am, enjoying some quiet time as my husband picks up some eggs with little D in tow–and I felt it was important to post this recipe.
First off–I have reverted back to my “dieting”, although I use quotation marks as I prefer not to think of it so much as “dieting”, but rather a life style adjustment.  Getting married, being pregnant, dealing with the new demands of being a mom…well, all these things truly knocked me off track of my healthy eating and that’s partially because, as I said before,  life gets in the way of our best intentions.

What’s done is done. Here I am, trying to approach our meal times with a balanced and holistic approach.  We have certainly saved money meal planning and avoiding the easy way out:  take out.

This casserole though…will amaze you.  I will warn you–it’s fairly labor intensive, but if you’re low carb, keto or Atkins, this recipe is a must try and…it is so worth it.

So once again, I have embraced spaghetti squash to create the bulk of this meal.  You want to start out with cooking your squash, whether roasting or in the microwave.  I opted to roast, cut in half, face down brushed with olive oil, salt and pepper to taste.  Once the squash is cooked through, pull out the strands with a fork, drain what you have gather well and set aside.

Of course, you’ll see below that almond flour was used for breading as opposed to regular flour. It is lower in carbohydrates than all-purpose grain flour and I wanted to cater this dish specifically to a low carb audience–myself.

Chicken Parmesan Spaghetti Squash Casserole

  • Servings: 4-6
  • Time: 1 hr 30 min
  • Difficulty: medium
  • Print

Satisfyingly close to the Real Thing

Ingredients

    For the Chicken
  • 3 tbsp olive oil
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • 1.5 lbs boneless skinless chicken
  • 1/2 cup almond flour
  • 1/4 cup parmesan
  • 1/2 tsp basil
  • 1 tsp parsley
  • 1/2 tsp garlic powder
  • 1 egg
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • ___________

    For the Casserole

  • 4-6 cups cooked spaghetti squash
  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 1/2 tbsp dried parsley
  • pinch of salt and pepper
  • 2 tbsp parmesan
  • 2 cups tomato sauce
  • fresh mozzarella

Directions

  • Pre-heat oven to 375 degrees
  • Beat egg in small bowl and set side
  • Mix together almond flour, parmesan, basil, parsley, garlic powder, salt and pepper
  • Cut chicken into 2″ strips and dip into egg, then breading mixture. Lay to the side
  • Heat olive oil in non-stick frying pan until hot. Cook breaded chicken until brown and then remove off heat onto paper towel on plate
  • Toss strands of spaghetti squash with olive oil, parsley, salt, pepper and parmesan
  • Spread squash in 9×13 casserole dish. Lay chicken pieces on top, cover with tomato sauce and then mozzarella
  • Back in oven for 30-45 minutes until dish is warm and bubbly
  • Serve hot and enjoy!

__________

    Notes
  • Do not be afraid to cook your squash longer if necessary. My biggest mistake has been moving the squash from the oven before it is completely cooked and having to eat it a bit crunchy. Fork a piece of flesh from it if you are not sure and try it out.
  • Consider using a keto tomato sauce (you can easily make your own) or splurge on a low sugar sauce to keep carbs low
  • Use parchment paper in your casserole dish to keep the dish cleaner. I always use parchment paper when baking food in the oven–it makes the clean up so much easier and keep my pans from staining.

There you have it! I promise, this recipe is worth the time and effort to make. Of course, I didn’t think of this recipe all my own–I was inspired by I Breathe I’m Hungry and you can find the recipe here.

Spaghetti Squash

Last week I purchased two spaghetti squash and finally cooked one up last night to the sheer delight of my husband;  the final product was vastly enjoyed.

Spegetti-Squash

History

The origins of the spaghetti squash are very interesting.  Although one might assume that it was indigenous to North America, it was actually introduced to Japan in 1921 from a Chinese agricultural research facility.   In 1936 this squash was introduced to North America but it didn’t gain popularity until much later.  The name “spaghetti squash” pertains to the eerie similarity to spaghetti once the cooked strands are scraped from the shell.

The similarity ends there though.  The nutrients and caloric intake vastly differ between pasta and spaghetti squash.

Your standard spaghetti has 221 calories and 42 grams of carbohydrates in one cooked cup.  Our family is full of pasta eaters so I couldn’t even hazard how many cups of pasta we have consumed.  On the other hand, spaghetti squash has 42 calories and 10 grams of carbohydrates in one cooked cup.

Although pasta has a higher amount of protein due to the increased carbohydrates, protein can easily be found in other healthier sources.  The spaghetti squash is a great alternative for anyone on a low carbohydrate, paleo or diabetic diet.

Preparation

There are a variety ways that the spaghetti squash can be prepared.

-roasted whole in the oven with skewer holes
-microwaved, cut in half-microwaved whole
-baked in water (for moisture)

I have tried both the microwave and the roasting option.  For the recipe I will be posting, I opted to cut the squash in half and roast it as I have found it an easier way to determine whether it is done cooking.

Choose whatever method is best suited for you.  I have found personally that roasting in the oven does bring out the best taste of the squash.   You will find your squash is cooked through when the fork can easily pierce through the flesh and when the shell dents when some pressure is placed on it.

You made it this  far!  Now on to the recipe.

Roasted Spaghetti Squash with Parmesan and Basil White Sauce

  • Servings: 4-6
  • Time: 1 hr 30 min
  • Difficulty: easy
  • Print

A Healthy Alternative with Great Taste

Ingredients

  • 1 spaghetti squash
  • olive oil
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • 2 TBSP butter
  • 2 TBSP flour
  • 1 cup milk
  • 2 fresh basil leaves chopped
  • grated parmesan

Directions

  • Pre-heat oven to 400 degrees
  • Cut spaghetti squash in half and scrape out seeds
  • Brush squash with olive oil and sprinkle with salt and pepper to taste
  • Place halves cut-side up in roasting pan/deep cookie sheet/casserole dish.  (Another option is to place cut-side down in dish with water covering the bottom of the dish and cover with foil to keep squash moist and tender.  Either option works.)
  • Bake for 40-60 min depending on size of squash.  To check whether the squash is fully cooked, pierce flesh with fork.  When it goes easily down to the skin, it is finished cooking.  Another tip is to push the skin with a fork–if it dents easily, it is done.
  • While squash is roasting, in a small heavy pan  create your roux: melt 2 TBSP of butter. Add flour and stir until butter and flour are well combined
  • Add 1 cup of milk slowly to the roux, stirring frequently as it thickens
  • Optional:  add the fresh basil and parmesan (as much as you want) to the white sauce
  • Once the squash is finished cooking, lift out of the oven and with a fork scrape the flesh off of the skin.  The flesh will leave the skin in long spaghetti strands.  Toss in mixing bowl with white sauce and serve with more fresh parmesan grated on top

  • Do not be afraid to cook your squash longer if necessary.  My biggest mistake has been moving the squash from the oven before it is completely cooked and having to eat it a bit crunchy.  Fork a piece of flesh from it if you are not sure and try it out.
  • Add garlic, rosemary or whatever other spice you enjoy to the dish.  Spaghetti squash has a very gentle taste, so having a nice punchy sauce mixed with it is important.
  • Prepare the white sauce when the squash is nearing completion.  It doesn’t take much time to make and you will want it fresh and hot, poured over the squash.

Enjoy, my fellow chefs!

spaghetti-squash