Oh, how I love this recipe! It is one of my absolute favorites – Sausage Marinara Spaghetti Squash Boat. It’s actually Italian sausage, but that made the name too long, so I kept “boat” and lost “Italian!”
I learned how to make this authentic Italian marinara while I was on an airplane that almost crashed. That might be a teeny, weeny bit of an exaggeration, we didn’t almost crash, but another plane came very close to flying into us. And if it had, we would have crashed! I was sitting next to a U.S. Marine who was stationed in Italy. We were both shaken up about our near-death experience. We spent a lot of time talking about how scary it was seeing that plane out my window headed right toward us, talking about my fear of flying, which is very intense, and talking about food and cooking. He was a great cook and told me how to make an authentic Italian marinara!
For this recipe I took some liberty with his and added Italian sausage to it. It’s so simple to make, just a few ingredients, and if you serve it with spaghetti squash it makes a perfect Paleo meal!
If you serve it IN the spaghetti squash skin, you now have an easy-to-prepare meal that will impress any dinner guest. Everyone I’ve cooked this for has loved it! When you serve it in the “boat” it feels like a fancy-pants meal.
If you’ve never had spaghetti squash, you’re in for a treat! Spaghetti squash is a winter squash and peak season for it begins in the fall. You can find it year-round in most grocery stores, though. Once cooked, the uniquely textured flesh separates into spaghetti-like strands when you scoop it out of the skin. You can use it as spaghetti, which is what I’m doing in this recipe, or you can season it with olive oil, salt, pepper and/or any herb of your choice.
The Marine told me the key to the marinara is the tomatoes. There are two kinds in this, Roma and I use baby heirloom tomatoes. You can also use cherry tomatoes, which is what the Marine used.
There’s only one slightly tricky part to this recipe, so I want to tell you about that now. Heat the olive oil in a large skillet. Then cut off the vine end of the Roma tomatoes. On the other end you’re going to score the skin with a big “X” that goes down both sides of the tomato. Place the tomatoes cut end down in the skillet and cover. Cook them about 10 minutes while you dice the garlic and slice the small tomatoes in half. After 10 minutes, using a fork and knife, gently peel the skin off of the Roma tomatoes and discard. Be careful not to burn your fingers! Then add the garlic, brown it for a minute and add the rest of the tomatoes. As they cook, mash them with a fork to break up all of the tomatoes.
This authentic Italian marinara makes a great Paleo meal when you add spicy Italian sausage! It's an easy and impressive recipe to make for dinner guests.
10 minPrep Time
45 minCook Time
1 hrTotal Time
- 4 Roma tomatoes
- 16 ounces of baby heirloom or cherry tomatoes
- 5 cloves garlic, diced small
- 30 basil leaves, chopped and separated
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- 2 spaghetti squash, small to medium, cut in half lengthwise, seeds removed
- 1 pound ground spicy Italian sausage (use sugar-free to make it Paleo) I like the spicy Italian sausage from Whole Foods because I don't have to add any other seasoning besides salt and pepper
- salt and pepper to taste
- Preheat the oven to 375. Line a cookie sheet with parchment paper.
- Place the spaghetti squash on the cookie sheet cut side down. If you don't use parchment, put about a 1/4 inch of water on the cookie sheet so the squash won't burn.
- Cook the squash for 45 minutes.
- Heat the olive oil in a large skillet.
- Cut the vine end off of the Roma tomatoes and score the other end with an "X.
- Place the tomatoes in the skillet, cut end down, and cover. Cook for 10 minutes.
- Dice the garlic. Slice the small tomatoes in half.
- After cooking for 10 minutes, carefully remove the skin from the Roma tomatoes.
- Add the garlic and let brown for one minute.
- Add the small tomatoes, salt and pepper to taste and cover.
- Cook for 20 minutes, smashing the tomatoes with a fork every so often.
- After 20 minutes, add the ground Italian sausage to the marinara and break it up with a spatula.
- Cook for 25 minutes or until the sausage is done.
- Stir in most of the chopped basil, leaving a few pieces for garnish.
- Loosen the squash from the skin with a fork or spoon, but leave it in the skin.
- Season it with olive oil and salt and pepper to taste.
- Each spaghetti squash boat serves one person. Top the squash with marinara.
- Garnish with basil and enjoy!
You don’t have to serve this in the spaghetti squash skin, but it looks cool and is fun if you do!
Today’s recipe is brought to you by a near-plane crash and a wonderful Marine from Sacramento who is stationed in Italy. God bless all of the men and women who serve our country. Thank you so much for your service. And thank you for your recipe inspiration!
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