Spaghetti Squash Pizza Casserole

My latest shipment of Humira just arrived today. I still have a bruise on my leg from my last injection, so at least I won’t have trouble remembering which leg to use this week. In 2005, I was diagnosed with Ulcerative Colitis.  After eight and a half years I’m finally at a point where I feel comfortable talking to people about my condition. I won’t get into the details of all the symptoms with you here, but please take the time to read up on Ulcerative Colitis and Crohn’s Disease on the Crohn’s and  Colitis Foundation of America website. Another great resource is iHaveUC. Roughly 1 in 200 Americans suffer with these conditions – and many folks haven’t been diagnosed and are struggling along without help. That’s a lot of people in pain, malnourished, trapped at home or in restroom stalls, and quite possibly dealing with depression. This week is Crohn’s and Colitis Awareness Week, so I encourage you to learn more about these diseases, to visit a gastroenterologist if you’ve been suffering any of the symptoms seen on the CCFA website, to spread the word about Awareness Week, to make a donation to the CCFA, and/or, if you know someone with Crohn’s or Colitis, to let them know that you’re there for them when they need help.

Dinners here lately have been experimental. About a month ago I started cutting gluten out of my diet, hoping to control some symptoms I’m still dealing with. It seems to be helping, which is great. The downside is that I have to learn new recipes, or rework the ones I know. I’m also pretty sentimental about food – I love the recipes we had growing up, and have grown really attached to new ones I had learned since I moved out of my parents’ house.

So I took a chance to create a gluten-free version of one of my favorite childhood recipes. In my mom’s cookbook this is Pizza Noodle Bake. In our house it’s called “that pizza pasta stuff”.  For now I’ll call its new incarnation Spaghetti Squash Pizza Casserole, until a shorter or more confused name comes along. Pizza Squash, perhaps.

Lace and Lemons Pizza SquashI’ve cooked spaghetti squash two ways now: oven and microwave. In my limited experience, baking in the oven (350 degrees for 45 minutes) cooked the squash more evenly, but cooking it in the microwave (12 minutes, rotating it every 3) and then cutting it open was easier than cutting it open pre-cooking for the oven method. Both ways are a pain to my hands because I’m too impatient to let it cool very long before I start shredding the ‘spaghetti’ strands.

Here’s how this went:

  • 1 spaghetti squash
  • 1/2 c butter, softened (per mom’s recipe. This may have been too much butter to use with squash, though. As if there’s such a thing as too much butter)
  • 15 oz pizza sauce (I used leftover sauce from Sunday’s pasta)
  • 16 oz shredded mozzarella
  • pizza toppings (I just used pepperoni)

I preheated the oven for 350 degrees, then cooked the squash per the directions on its sticker, puncturing it with a fork (fun!) and microwaving for 12 minutes, turning every 3.

Lace and Lemons Pizza SquashLace and Lemons Pizza SquashIn the meantime, I grated a brick of mozzarella cheese. I should have bought two, so I ended up using some shredded cheddar we had in the fridge, too.

Once the squash was done, I sliced it in half and carefully scooped out the seeds and the icky-looking stringy parts. By “carefully” I mean I got squash bits and seeds all over the kitchen counter and nearly burned my fingerprints off trying to hold onto the squash. This got a bit easier when I got out a grapefruit spoon. (Side question: can you eat spaghetti squash seeds? Nick likes roasted pumpkin seeds and these look very similar. I must look into this.)

Lace and Lemons Pizza SquashLace and Lemons Pizza SquashWith a fork, I shredded the squash into strands and placed them in a greased 9X13 pan. To that I added the softened butter and stirred it up, right in the pan.

Lace and Lemons Pizza SquashLace and Lemons Pizza SquashThen I topped it with the sauce, cheese and pepperoni. I baked the casserole for 25 minutes, checking on it periodically to make sure it wasn’t burning.Lace and Lemons Pizza Squash

Lace and Lemons Pizza Squash

We both really liked it!  The squash cut up into slices nicely, but there was a lot of liquid in the pan. I’m not sure how to avoid that with spaghetti squash. I’m open to suggestions!

Lace and Lemons Pizza SquashI’ll try this with GF pasta once I find a spaghetti variety that I like. Cubed eggplant might be a nice alternative, too. I could probably think of a lot of things I’ll eat as long as they’re smothered with pizza sauce, cheese and pepperoni.

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2 responses

  1. This looks delicious! My oldest daughter has JRA and will likely be on Humira in a month or so, and I’ve considered cutting gluten for the inflammation issues. You should post all your recipes! This might be a good reason to purchase a spaghetti squash!

    • That must be so hard for a kid to deal with! I hope Humira works out for her, it’s been a wonder drug for a lot of people. I’ll be posting any good recipes I come across. Christmastime would be a hard time to go GF but it could really be worth it.

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