This was one of those meals that sort of crept up on me, when I was considering what I had around the kitchen that needed to be used up (how many times have I said THAT before??). To be totally honest, I was kind of scared it would be terrible! But, the dinner gods smiled down upon me, and it was actually damn good. I can absolutely see myself making this again… maybe even as a side dish for a holiday. I am a huge, huge fan of spinach artichoke dip, and this definitely satisified that craving, while actually being pretty light! Magic, I tell you.
Spinach Artichoke and Chicken Spaghetti Squash Bake
serves 6 generously
2 medium spaghetti squash
6 ounces whipped cream cheese
6 ounces 2% plain greek yogurt
10 ounce package frozen spinach
1 can artichoke hearts, drained well and chopped
1 pound chicken, cooked and diced
2 cloves garlic, grated
4 ounces monterey jack, grated
1.) Preheat your oven to 350°, and then start by dealing with your spaghetti squash. Cut off the stem, and then cut the squash in half lengthwise if you can; if you can’t without feeling like you’re going to lose a finger (or several), go ahead and bake that sucker whole. If you manage to get them cut in half, scrape out the seeds, place the halves cut-side down on a baking sheet, and bake for 45 minutes to an hour, until fork tender. (If you’re baking them whole, you’re probably going to need 60-90 minutes, depending on how large they are. When they’re softened and they’ve slumped a bit, pull them out, let them cool until you can handle them, and then cut them in half and scoop out the seeds.)
2.) While your squash bakes, you can make your spinach and artichoke mixture. Defrost the spinach in the microwave; allow it to cool, and then squeeze ALLLLL the water out (you should end up with a clump of spinach that’s pretty dry to the touch, and slightly smaller than a baseball).
3.) Add the spinach, chopped artichokes, chopped chicken, whipped cream cheese, greek yogurt, grated garlic, and about 1/2 teaspoon each of kosher salt and pepper to a bowl. Mix with a rubber spatula until everything is combined.
4.) When your squash is done roasting, leave your oven at 350°. Let the squash cool for a few minutes; then, take a fork and scrape out all the “spaghetti.” Put all the squash into another bowl, and season with a couple healthy pinches of salt and pepper. Toss the strands with tongs so that it all ends up evenly seasoned.
5.) At this point, I chose to layer my squash and spinach artichoke mixture; I was concerned that trying to mix it all together would result in the squash getting all broken up and mushy. Feel free to give that a shot if you’d like, and let me know how it goes! Anyways, spray a large baking dish with cooking spray. Spread half the squash out on the bottom of the dish; top that with half the spinach artichoke mixture, then the second half of the squash, then the rest of the spinach artichoke mixture. Top the entire thing with the grated monterey jack, and bake for about 30 minutes, until the cheese is melted and browned (you can always pass it under the broiler at the end if your cheese needs some help browning).
6.) Let the dish stand for a few minutes so it sets a bit, then dig in and enjoy!
Now, listen… I am not one of those people that’s going to try and insist that spaghetti squash is JUST LIKE spaghetti! You’ll hardly know the difference! That is crap, and we all know it. However, spaghetti squash IS super neutral in flavor… so it’s a great vehicle for other, most interesting flavors. This dish is nice and creamy and cheesy – but it’s also STUFFED FULL of vegetables (and lots of protein, between the chicken and greek yogurt). So you can enjoy the hell out of it, and still feel smug and self-righteous because you just consumed, like, THREE servings of vegetables. BOOM.
Why are spaghetti squash SO DAMN HARD to cut???