Food critics rave over this dish, giving it two thumbs up!
And by “food critics”, I mean a five year old boy.
Food critic in action!
And by “two thumbs up”, I mean I think he thought it was okay.
I invited some new members at my CrossFit gym over to dinner at my home a couple of weeks ago to test out a variation of this recipe. They brought along their five year old son. At first he refused to even taste the dish. After some encouragement from his mom, he agreed to try a small serving. I braced myself for his reaction.
After a couple of bites, he looked at me and said, “I like macaroni and cheese. This tastes kinda like macaroni and cheese.” To seal the deal, he asked for a second helping.
Since it’s received a 5 year old’s blessing, you know it has to be good. Enjoy!
Creamy Chicken Fajita Spaghetti Squash Casserole (Paleo-Friendly option below)
- large spaghetti squash (1 1/4 to 1 3/4 lbs)
- 2 pounds chicken tenders
- 16 ounces chunky salsa
- 1 cup sour cream
- 8 ounces shredded cheddar cheese
- 8 ounces shredded Monterey jack cheese
- 1 onion, thinly sliced
- 1 red bell pepper, thinly sliced
- 1 green bell pepper, thinly sliced
- 2 1/2 tablespoons olive oil for cooking (can substitute butter, avocado oil or other preferred cooking oil)
- 1 1/2 tablespoons chili powder
- 2 teaspoons sea salt
- 1 teaspoon black pepper
- 1 teaspoon cumin
- 1 teaspoon dried oregano
- 1 teaspoon paprika
- 1 teaspoon garlic powder
- 1 teaspoon coriander
- 1/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes
- Preheat oven to 375 degrees.
- Line a large baking sheet with parchment paper.
- Cut spaghetti squash in half lengthwise. Scoop out the seeds from the center of each half of the spaghetti squash.*
- Place the spaghetti squash cut side down on the lined baking sheet, and bake in the oven for approximately 35-40 minutes until tender (you’ll know the squash is done if you can pierce the spaghetti squash noodles easily with a fork).
- Once the spaghetti squash has cooked, take it out of the oven, flip the halves over and let the squash cool.
- Once the spaghetti squash has cooled enough to handle, use a fork to scrap the squash noodles into a large mixing bowl.
- While the spaghetti squash is cooling, mix together the fajita seasoning. Reserve 1 tablespoon of the fajita seasoning mix.
- Heat a large skillet over medium high heat. Once the skillet is hot, add 1 1/2 tablespoons olive to the skillet.
- Add the chicken tenders to the heated skillet, then add the fajita seasoning mix (reserve 1 tablespoon of the fajita seasoning mix for later use).
- Sauté the chicken in the large skillet over medium high heat until cooked through, 12 to 15 minutes. Once the chicken has cooked, remove the skillet from the heat and set aside, allowing the chicken to cool slightly. Once the chicken has cooled, chop the chicken tenders into 1/2 – 1 inches pieces.
- Heat a large skillet over medium high heat. Once the skillet is heated through, add 1 tablespoon of olive oil.
- Add the sliced peppers and onions to the heated skillet, then add the remaining tablespoon of fajita seasoning mix.
- Sauté the vegetables over medium high heat until softened, 10 to 12 minutes. Once the veggies are done, remove the skillet from the heat and set aside to allow the veggies to cool slightly.
- Preheat the oven to 350.
- While the oven is preheating, in a medium size bowl, mix together the cheddar and Monterey jack cheeses, salsa and sour cream.
- Add the chicken and veggies to the spaghetti squash in the large mixing bowl and stir to combine. Then add the sour cream, cheese and salsa mixture and stir to combine.
- pour the mixture into a 9 x 13 baking pan.
- Place the baking pan in the middle of the oven, and bake until heated through, approximately 40-45 minutes.
- Once the casserole is done, take out of the oven, serve and enjoy!
- Quick tip, to make the spaghetti squash easier to cut, microwave for 1-2 minutes to soften the shell before attempting to slice.
- To make the recipe Paleo friendly, omit the dairy (the cheese and sour cream). Starting at Step 16, once you have mixed the chicken, veggies, spaghetti squash and salsa together, add in 4 large eggs (beaten) and stir until combined. Pour the mixture into a 9 x 13 baking pan. Place the baking pan in the middle of the oven, and bake until heated through and the egg is no longer runny, 65-75 minutes. Once the casserole is done, take out of the oven, serve and enjoy!