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March 18, 2014

Recipe for chicken and spaghetti squash casserole with bell peppers, olives and cheese {gluten-free}

Chicken and spaghetti squash casserole with bell peppers, olives and cheese #glutenfree.

When spaghetti squash made its first appearance on the home cooking scene, I tried hard to believe it could, would and should replace pasta in my favorite dishes. Yes, it looks all stringy and strandy, but no, it is not spaghetti, no matter how many meatballs you pile on top. Because it fell short of my expectations, I cast it aside, and for years did not serve spaghetti squash at all. Now, two things have made me take a fresh look: the slow cooker, and the pressure cooker. Both of these machines make cooking spaghetti squash so easy that I simply had to give it another chance. I'll just say this: I made this chicken and spaghetti squash casserole twice in one week, in order to get any photos at all, because my husband Ted and I practically inhaled the first one. The squash cooked perfectly in both the slow cooker and the "fast" (pressure) cooker, and the combination of chicken, vegetables and two cheeses put an Italian spin on the dish that made it every bit as good as spaghetti. I've included instructions for cooking the squash in the oven, as well, because no matter what's in your kitchen, I want you to make this dish.

Chicken and spaghetti squash casserole #glutenfree (The Perfect Pantry).

Chicken and spaghetti squash casserole with bell peppers, olives and cheese

From the pantry, you'll need: frozen chicken breast, onion, black olives, thyme, parsley, garlic, parmigiano-reggiano cheese, grated or shredded cheese, extra virgin olive oil, cooking spray.

Serves 6.

Ingredients

1 spaghetti squash, 2- to 2-1/2 lbs
2 tsp extra virgin olive oil
1 lb boneless, skinless chicken breast, cut into 1/2 by 1-inch slices
1 onion, sliced
2 bell peppers, sliced (I like to use different color peppers)
1 large garlic clove, sliced
1 Tbsp dried thyme
1/4 cup medium black olives
1/2 cup dry white wine
1/2 tsp kosher salt
1/2 tsp fresh black pepper
1/4 cup grated parmigiano-reggiano or romano cheese
4 oz grated low-fat Italian cheese blend (or mozzarella)
1/4 cup chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley

Directions

Cook the spaghetti squash in a pressure cooker, oven or slow cooker.

Pressure cooker method: Trim off the stem end of the squash, and cut the squash in half lengthwise. With a spoon, scoop out the seeds and stringy bits. Place the two halves in the pressure cooker and add 1 cup of water. Cook on High Pressure for 8 minutes, and use the Quick Release method to release pressure (follow the instructions that came with your pressure cooker). When the pressure valve drops, open the lid. Use tongs to remove the squash halves to a platter, and let them cool while you make the rest of the dish. Then, use a fork to scrape the "spaghetti" out of the skin.

Oven roasting method: Preheat the oven to 375°F. Cut the squash in half lengthwise, and scoop out the seeds. Place the two halves cut side up on a rimmed baking sheet. Drizzle each half with extra virgin olive oil. Bake for 45 minutes, or until the squash is tender when pierced with a knife. Remove from the oven and set aside to cool while you make the rest of the dish; then, use a fork to scrape the "spaghetti" out of the skin.

Slow cooker method: You'll need to start this first thing in the morning to have the squash ready for dinner. Wash the whole squash to remove any surface dirt, and prick it all over with a sharp paring knife. Place the whole squash in a 4-quart oval slow cooker. Add 1-1/2 cups of water. Cover and cook on LOW for 6 hours. Remove squash from the cooker (with tongs), and set aside until it's cool enough to cut open. Scoop out the seeds, and then use a fork to scrape the "spaghetti" out of the skin.

Now that your squash is cooked....

If you've used your pressure cooker or slow cooker for the squash, preheat the oven to 375°F. Coat a casserole dish (approximately 9x13) with cooking spray, and set aside.

Heat a large nonstick frying pan over medium heat. Add olive oil, chicken and onion. Sauté for 3-4 minutes, stirring frequently, until the chicken is no longer pink.

Toss in the bell peppers, garlic, thyme and olives. Continue to cook, stirring, for 2-3 minutes, until the peppers are softened slightly. Pour in the wine, salt and pepper. Stir until everything is combined, and cook for 2 minutes, until most of the liquid evaporates. Remove from heat.

Place the "spaghetti" strands in a large mixing bowl, and add the chicken and pepper mixture from the frying pan. Stir in the two cheeses and parsley, until everything is combined. Pour the mixture into the prepared casserole dish.

Cover the casserole with aluminum foil, and bake for 30 minutes. Then, uncover and bake for an additional 10 minutes.

Serve hot. Can be made up to one day ahead and reheated in a 350° oven.

[Printer-friendly recipe.]


More squash, because it's so good:
Winter squash panzanella
Roasted butternut squash with smoked paprika yogurt sauce
Caribbean chicken curry with butternut squash and red bell pepper
Butternut squash macaroni and cheese
Spiced lentils with squash and raisins

Other recipes that use these pantry ingredients:
Spaghetti squash sausage lasagna boats, from Skinnytaste
Garlicky spaghetti squash with pumpkin chicken meatballs, from We are not Martha
Southwestern chicken and spaghetti squash salad, from Eat, Live, Run
Spaghetti squash pad Thai, from Shared Appetite
Greek salad spaghetti squash bowl, from Kalyn's Kitchen

Comments

I'm having a renewed interest in spaghetti squash as well, and it's fun seeing how versatile it really is. This sounds like one of the best ideas I've seen for using it; love it!

Kalyn, I think the trick is not to think of spaghetti squash as a substitute for spaghetti, but to think of it as a squash. At least, that's what has worked for me.

I thought it was really a pasta but still I like your recipe and the twist you add on it. Thanks for sharing.

I made this into a spicy casserole by substituting large Mexican peppers for the Bell peppers, used cumin instead of Thyme, and cilantro instead of parsley. It was yummy!

Mary, I'm going to borrow that idea -- it sounds divine!

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About The Perfect Pantry®

  • My name is Lydia Walshin. From my log house kitchen in rural northwest Rhode Island, I share recipes that use what we keep in our pantries, the usual and not-so-usual ingredients that spice up our lives.

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