Threaded Hot Dog or Sausage Spaghetti (aka “Spider Dogs”)

Move over meatballs! This squirmy pasta dish makes a fun project for kids and a crowd-pleasing Halloween-themed meal. For a more “mature” version, substitute your favorite cooked sausage for the hot dogs.

Move over meatballs! This squirmy pasta dish makes a fun project for kids and a crowd-pleasing Halloween-themed meal. For a more “mature” version, substitute your favorite cooked sausage for the hot dogs.

 

I’m pretty sure a spoonful of laughter and silliness makes any dinner taste better –and when the preparation of that meal can be a fun project for eager kitchen helpers, it’s a double win!

Halloween presents the perfect excuse to play with one’s food, so when I spent the afternoon with my 7-year-old niece recently, I readied myself with a few key ingredients.

The following one-pot recipe is an on-theme way to fill young tummies before trick-or-treating, but it need not be reserved as a once-a-year meal as big kids and adults always enjoy it, too.

Threading noodles through pieces of hot dog –a key feature of this recipe – may seem a tad tedious, but it’s proven to be a fun activity for little fingers. It’s good for hand-eye coordination, too.

I thought my niece might lose interest before the task was completed, but with the exception of tending to the boiling pot, she ended up preparing every last bit of the meal on her own and proudly took it home to serve to her family that evening. (Tip: a plastic knife allows young children to complete the slicing step safely.) 

Move over meatballs! This squirmy pasta dish makes a fun project for kids and a crowd-pleasing Halloween-themed meal. For a more “mature” version, substitute your favorite cooked sausage for the hot dogs.

Grace showing off her work. (We went outside for better lighting!)

Move over meatballs! This squirmy pasta dish makes a fun project for kids and a crowd-pleasing Halloween-themed meal. For a more “mature” version, substitute your favorite cooked sausage for the hot dogs.

When I first saw this silly but tasty idea in a magazine many years ago, the proportion of meat to pasta was too high. The simple fix was to use more pasta and fewer hot dogs. As an added perk, the better balance stretched the yield with less work.

Adults who prepare this dish without the aid of young helpers may find the initial step to be monotonous, but it goes fast since you need only deal with 4 ounces of pasta (or one quarter of a standard 16-ounce package). An additional portion of noodles is cooked as is and serves to bulk up the meal.

Move over meatballs! This squirmy pasta dish makes a fun project for kids and a crowd-pleasing Halloween-themed meal. For a more “mature” version, substitute your favorite cooked sausage for the hot dogs.

Because every silly meal deserves an equally goofy name, I initially referred to these noodles as “Wormy Dogs.” Citing their appearance prior to cooking, my husband suggested “Spider Dogs,” and that name stuck. “Pasta-Threaded Sausages” can be used for a more highbrow meal. (Wink, wink!)

As such, I’ve implemented the cooked sausage option for a somewhat more mature rendition of what is undeniably a kid-friendly meal. But to be honest, most adults happily embrace their inner child with either version.

You may certainly use the recipe as a framework and increase or decrease the amount of meat or pasta according to personal preference and how many mouths you’re feeding. You can prep the noodles an hour or so in advance and let them sit at room temperature. Leftovers can be gently reheated and make a great packed lunch for those who have a microwave at work or school.

I like to serve the pasta with a hearty green salad, and my boys are always happy with a piece of garlic bread, too. This time around, my niece and I prepared a copycat version of Whole Foods’ kale Waldorf salad. For those who might like to try that healthy fall recipe, I posted it earlier this week.

  Move over meatballs! This squirmy pasta dish makes a fun project for kids and a crowd-pleasing Halloween-themed meal. For a more “mature” version, substitute your favorite cooked sausage for the hot dogs.   

Threaded Hot Dog or Sausage Spaghetti (aka "Spider Dogs")
Yield: 4 servings
If preferred, you can toss the cooked pasta with your favorite sauce in place of the butter and Parmesan.
Ingredients
  • 8 ounces spaghetti (I use thin spaghetti – but not angel hair which would break too easily; feel free to use gluten-free spaghetti if needed)
  • 6 hot dogs or 1 (12-ounce) package cooked sausages*
  • 2 tablespoons butter or olive oil
  • 1/4 cup freshly grated Parmesan
Instructions
  1. Slice the hot dogs or sausages into bite-size pieces (I get 7 pieces each), and break about half (4 ounces) of the noodles in half.
  2. Carefully thread 6 pieces of the broken spaghetti through each hot dog piece.  (I stick 3 noodles through each side so there are long strands extending from both directions, although one noodle more or less won’t hurt – and, yes, spiders do technically have 8 legs!) The remaining pasta will be cooked as plain old noodles.
  3. As you’re threading the hot dogs, bring a large pot of salted water to boil and then cook the pasta (the plain strands andthe threaded ones) according to the package directions (about 9-10 minutes for thin spaghetti).
  4. Drain and toss with the butter or olive oil. Serve with a sprinkle of Parmesan.
Notes

*For those who prefer to use uncured meats, I recently used a 12-ounce (6-count) package of Maverick Ranch Natural Beef Franks, which were quite good. I’ve also used Bell & Evans and Applegate chicken sausages (available in a variety of flavors) to many positive reviews. I think kielbasa would taste good, too.

A few more things…
If you’d like to work some colorful veggies into the mix, add frozen peas to the spaghetti during the last few minutes of cooking time.
Depending on age of children and what is served on the side, some families may enjoy 6 servings out of this meal.

 

The Fountain Avenue Kitchen https://fountainavenuekitchen.com/
 

Move over meatballs! This squirmy pasta dish makes a fun project for kids and a crowd-pleasing Halloween-themed meal. For a more “mature” version, substitute your favorite cooked sausage for the hot dogs. 

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