There was a long, lonely year when I wasn’t allowed to eat dairy – Ryan was allergic to soy and dairy and I was nursing and I was miserable. Living in NJ, I missed a lot of ‘staples’ – pork roll, egg and cheese bagels, sub-par strip mall Chinese food, boardwalk ice cream, and, of course, pizza.
The other day, Alex and I were talking about the foods we gravitate towards – he’s usually meat/barbeque and Middle Eastern food, while for me it’s all about burgers and pizza – because apparently, I’m essentially a frat boy. This being said, not eating dairy for a year was a rough life. It wasn’t until recently that I remembered a life saver I made a lot during those dark days (PS, I hope you all realize I’m highly exaggerating – being dairy free sucks, but it’s not the worst thing to ever happen to anyone, ha!) – a paleo spaghetti squash ‘pizza’ bake that satisfied my pizza cravings, kind of.
I remembered it being insanely delicious, so I decided to try and make it again, but you know, with cheese. Because I love cheese. It turned out amazing, so I’m sharing it today in hopes that I’ll help one, lonely, person missing pizza. Take out the cheese and you’ve got a great dairy-free option, and with cheese it’s a great way to pack your kids full of veggies, keep down your carbs, and take the edge off of a crazy pizza craving.
I hesitated naming this a casserole – mostly because ew. Who actually wants to eat a casserole? Anyone? I don’t know, I just kind of feel like growing up, casseroles were a gross option for meals – something throw together, usually with a can of cream of something. But using the word, “bake” in substitution felt dishonest – because let’s be real, this is a casserole, plain and simple. It lightened up – nothing weird and totally packed with veggies, but it’s for sure a casserole. And I’m okay with it, because oh, my goodness, it’s amazing.
Insanely Cheesy Low Carb Pizza Casserole
1 large spaghetti squash
1 14 ounce can of pizza sauce, or pasta sauce of choice, or crushed tomatoes
2 tablespoons of tomato paste
1/4-1/2 cup of grated parmesan cheese
1 lb block of mozzarella cheese
Garlic, 3 – 4 cloves or more to taste.
1-1.5 lb of sausage
1 small onion, diced
Toppings of choice: I used .5 red and .5 green bell pepper, but feel free to mess around with the meat and mix-ins.
Salt, pepper, crushed pepper to taste
Roast (or microwave) the spaghetti squash until fully cooked, then cool and remove the squash and turn into ‘strands’ of spaghetti, set aside.
Preheat oven to 400.
Heat a large pan to medium-high and cook sausage. If the sausage is in the casing, remove from casing before cooking. Once browned, remove from the pan with a slotted spoon and set aside.
Cook onion and pepper if using in the residual fat until soft – if more that 2 ish tablespoons, remove some fat. Add in garlic and saute until fragrant before adding in the cooked sausage, stirring, and adding the squash and tomato sauce. Remove from heat.
In a large bowl, whisk eggs, tomato paste, and parmesan cheese very well. Grate half of the cheese and cube the other half to about .5 inch cubes. Stir together squash mixture, egg mixture, and cubed cheese.
Pour mixture into a 13×9 pan, nonstick or sprayed with non-stick spray. Top with grated cheese and bake 20 minutes or until bubbly. Allow to rest for 5-10 minutes before serving.
I’ve never frozen this, and I’m honestly not sure how well it would do – but the leftovers last a while and stay good – just reheat in the oven and you’re good!
Okay, so tell me – casserole? Bake? Does it even matter? Let me know in the comments!