Paleo Hotdish

So, here‘s something crazy. Don’t like links? (I don’t blame you. I hate them.) Check this out:

Photo: clint mcmahon, Creative Commons

Photo: clint mcmahon, Creative Commons

Behold a Minnesota legend and perhaps the sole reason for the continued existence of canned cream of mushroom soup: Tator Tot Hotdish. I might live in Minnesota, but the traditional version of hotdish isn’t something I’ve accepted as food just yet.

That said, I love an excuse to throw lots of soft, warm, healthy ingredients into a pan and bake until slightly crusty. This recipe (and some unseasonably cold weather during this Minnesota Memorial Day) gave me the perfect excuse to get on the hotdish bandwagon in a new way. This dish offers comfort food mouth-feel and savory flavors, without the icky tot-oils, breadcrumbs, cheese or nut-toppings found in some casserole recipes. It’s nothing like Tator Tot Hotdish (except for the temperature), but in my book that’s a good thing.

paleo spaghetti squash hotdish

Just call it a “hotdish” and BAM! it’s like you’re Minnesotan. *Plaid shirt and axe not included.

No spaghetti squash? Try acorn or delicata instead. Or, in a pinch, you could try canned pumpkin or even roughly mashed sweet potatoes.

Paleo Hotdish

Serves 4, Total Time about 1 hr 45 mins


  • 2 small or 1 large spaghetti squash
  • 1 lb. ground beef
  • 1 tsp red pepper flakes
  • 1 tsp thyme
  • ½ tsp salt
  • ½ tsp ground black pepper
  • 3 cloves of garlic
  • 1 large yellow onion, halved and sliced thin
  • 3 c mushrooms, sliced (I used baby portobellos, but button would work too)
  • 4-6 cups fresh baby kale or spinach
  • ½ cup chicken broth
  • 2 eggs

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Slice the squash in half, scrape out the seeds and place face down on a baking sheet. Bake until soft, about 25-35 minutes.

Meanwhile, heat a large, oven-safe pan over medium heat. Cook the ground beef, red pepper flakes, thyme, salt and pepper until the beef is browned completely. Remove the meat from the pan and set aside, leaving any fat in the pan.

Keep the pan on medium heat and add the garlic and onion. If there’s not enough fat left in the pan, add a little olive oil or butter. Saute until the onions are soft, about 5-7 minutes. Add the mushrooms and stir frequently until the mushrooms are soft and lose some of their water, about 3 minutes. Add the kale a handful at a time, folding it into the onion mixture. Continue until all the kale is added and wilted. Add the meat back to the pan and stir to combine. Turn off the stove heat.

Once the squash is done, let it cool down enough to handle. I use a potholder to hold the squash in one hand while I fork the middle out of the squash with the other hand. Scrape the stringy flesh out of the squash and into the pot with the meat and veggies.

In a small bowl whisk the eggs and chicken broth together. Poor into the pot over the squash, meat and veggies and fold it all together until well mixed.

Place on a middle rack in the oven (still at 400 degrees) until the top is slightly browned and any moisture is gone, about 50-60 minutes. Let sit 5 minutes before serving. Serve with salt and pepper to taste.

2 Responses to Paleo Hotdish

  1. Lori S. January 21, 2014 at 1:03 am #

    Hi Amelia,

    So happy to see a website like yours. I completely agree that Paleo involves too many nuts. There are nut free recipes out there, but difficult to find. My son, Luke, does not have IGE reactions to nuts, but rather IGG reactions – intolerances or sensitivities if you will. He has non-verbal autism and extreme sensitivities to food – food that can heal him or cause him to scream, head bang, hurt people, have extreme self-stimulatory behaviors or whatever else comes with a reaction. To boot, he is highly sensitive to fruit sugar, so fruit is off the list in addition to gluten, casein, soy, all grains and sugar outside of Grade B maple syrup, chickory root extract and some powdered stevia. He also is sensitive to oxalate foods, nightshade veggies and phenol foods. Our journey has been both enlightening and difficult. How blessed are we that God has revealed our bodies ability to heal through the right foods and avoid what man has ruined with processing, chemicals and GMO’s!!!!. I sympathize with your plight and am happy and pray for your road to recovery. As much as I would love to come up with my own recipes, my time does not permit for much experimentation, but modifications the best I can. Please keep up the good work and I look forward to more exciting recipes from your kitchen!!!


    • Amelia E January 21, 2014 at 7:26 pm #

      Lori, I am so glad that I can be helpful to you in what is surely one of the most complicated cases of food intolerances that I have seen. I can’t even imagine what it must have taken to diagnose all of that, especially in someone else! Wow. You are a real trooper and I can’t agree more that the effort we put in to understanding how food can be used for healing is extremely powerful. I likewise am sending my very best thoughts and wishes for you and Luke. He’s lucky to have you looking out for him. Very best and take care.

Always 100% Nut Free