We all know that kids are famous for turning up their noses at healthy foods, but what about 60-something year old Dads?
Lemme explain. A couple weeks ago my parents came over to babysit the boys while Ben and I attended preschool orientation. While we were getting ready to leave, I mentioned there was Italian Sausage and Pepper Ring Mini Meatloaves and Chicken Bacon Ranch Spaghetti Squash Casserole in the fridge to reheat for dinner, to which my Dad replied,
With a Figi snarl on his face and everything. Figi was my Mom’s dog growing up who lived so long she developed RSF aka resting snarl face. That dog was…something else.
Anyway, I said, “Dad, come ON! It’s spaghetti squash not chicken wings (hates getting saucy hands) plus it’s got bacon and ranch in it. Also you are not 10 years old. Eat the dang squash.” So he did. And guess what? He LOVED it!
Seriously though, l-o-v-e-d this casserole. He thought I’d already left the house when I was putting my shoes on in the mudroom and I overheard him telling my Mom, “boy, I’m not kidding you, this is REALLY good.”
My point? Even if you think you don’t like spaghetti squash, give this healthy yet decadent-tasting, fall-ready casserole a try!
This recipe comes from the brilliant (and hilarious) mind of Juli from PaleOMG. The day after my parents babysat, my Mom emailed asking for the recipe and I’d made so many adjustments to fit our family that I decided to post the casserole with my adaptations. That said, the credit for this fun and delicious idea for enjoying spaghetti squash definitely goes to Juli!
Spaghetti squash is roasted, shredded, then combined with chicken, bacon, sauteed spinach, eggs, and YES, ranch dressing (!) to create a super filling casserole that’s perfect for chilly fall nights. And it bears repeating that even my Dad, the squash hater, gave it two thumbs up.
This casserole recipe is made with fridge and pantry staples, is make ahead, and the leftovers are fabulous. Plus it’s a great way to get your family to eat spaghetti squash and spinach – there’s a whole 5oz clamshell of baby spinach in here! Add a little bit of bacon and ranch dressing, and everyone’s happy. ;)
Start by roasting a spaghetti squash. To save some time, I recommend you do this a day or even a few days ahead of time. Slice 1 medium-sized spaghetti squash (about 2-1/2lbs) in half then scrape out the seeds and place cut-side-down on a silpat or foil-lined half sheet pan. Roast at 400 degrees for 30-40 minutes, or until the squash shreds when you run a fork down the center.
Be careful not to over bake, otherwise the squash turns really mushy. Better to err on the side of al dente vs overdone as it will continue to bake inside the casserole. Once the squash has cooled slightly, shred the insides with a fork then add to a large bowl.
Meanwhile, add 6 slices chopped bacon to a large, 12″ skillet over medium heat then brown. Scoop the bacon onto a plate then remove all but 2 Tablespoons bacon grease from the skillet.
Turn the heat up to medium-high then add 2 chopped chicken breasts and 1 shallot or 1/2 onion. Season with homemade seasoned salt (or regular) and pepper then saute until cooked through. Add 2 cloves minced garlic and 5oz baby spinach that’s been roughly chopped (UNPICTURED!) then saute until the spinach has wilted, about 1 minute.
Add the chicken and spinach mixture to the bowl with the spaghetti squash, along with half the cooked bacon, a scant 1 cup ranch dressing, 3 whisked eggs, and more seasoned salt and pepper then stir to combine.
I used Marzetti Simply Dressed Ranch Dressing and it was fantastic! I’m a die hard Tessamae’s Creamy Ranch fan, but it’s a bit too dill-flavored for my family’s liking. Marzetti’s tastes closer to a traditional ranch dressing and has a great ingredient list to boot.
Pour the mixture into an 8×8″ baking dish (or similar sized baking dish) then top with the remaining bacon and bake at 350 degrees for 45 minutes to an hour, or until the center has set and the sides are browned.
Let the casserole sit for 15 minutes or so before scooping out and plating. I hope you love this healthy, fall-ready casserole! Enjoy!
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Chicken Bacon Ranch Spaghetti Squash Casserole
Chicken Bacon Ranch Spaghetti Squash Casserole is a flavorful fall casserole recipe. Even my squash-averse family loves this scrumptious, gluten-free dish!
- 1 medium-sized spaghetti squash (about 2-1/2lbs)
- 6 strips bacon, chopped
- 2 chicken breasts (14oz), cut into bite-sized pieces
- homemade seasoned salt (or regular salt) and pepper
- 1 shallot or 1/2 onion, chopped
- 5oz baby spinach, roughly chopped
- 2 cloves garlic, pressed or minced
- scant 1 cup ranch dressing (I used Marzetti Simply Dressed)
- 3 eggs, whisked
- Preheat oven to 400 degrees then line a half sheet pan with a silat or foil. Slice spaghetti squash in half using a large, sharp knife then scrape out the seeds with a spoon and place cut side down on the prepared sheet pan. Roast for 30-40 minutes, or until the squash shreds relatively easily with a fork (don’t overcook or the squash will become mushy.) Set aside to cool then turn heat down to 350 degrees. Once spaghetti squash is cool enough to handle, shred squash with a fork then add to a large bowl. Can be done a day ahead of time.
- Meanwhile, add chopped bacon to a large, 12” skillet then place over medium heat. Saute until bacon has browned then transfer to a plate. Remove all but 2 Tablespoons bacon grease from skillet then turn heat up to medium-high. Add chicken and shallots or onion, season with seasoned salt and pepper, then saute until the chicken has cooked through. Add spinach and garlic then saute until spinach has wilted, 1 minute. Scrape mixture into the bowl with the spaghetti squash.
- Add ranch, eggs, and half the cooked bacon to the bowl, plus additional seasoned salt and pepper, then mix well to combine. Pour mixture into an 8x8” baking dish (or similar sized baking dish) then top with remaining bacon. Bake uncovered for 45-60 minutes or until the center has completely set and sides are golden brown. Let cool for 15 minutes before slicing and serving.
This recipe is courtesy of Iowa Girl Eats, http://iowagirleats.com.