Monday, February 22, 2010

Battle Spaghetti Squash

I didn't make any formal Resolutions this year, but I did make a few informal ones ("informal" as in not written down- if it's not written, I can't break it), and one of those is a commitment to healthier, fresher eating.

I think we eat fairly well. Not gold-star level, but maybe worthy of a slightly torn silver one. But we can do better. We could utilize more fresh ingredients and our recipe repertoire could definitely be expanded. In pursuit of this goal we've been spending more time in the produce section of the grocery store and introducing new fruits and veggies to our kitchen. We spent Friday night perusing the aisles of Whole Foods with Landon standing point in the cart exclaiming over all the fruits and veggies ("they're so pretty mama!") - oh, the exciting life we lead.

Last night I attempted the mighty spaghetti squash. The Pioneer Woman linked to a post on her Tasty Kitchen site all about this handsome vegetable. I was intrigued and decided to take the plunge. JP was wary. Landon was delighted with the phrase "spaghetti squash" and kept pushing his step stool over to the kitchen counter to give the squash pets. The battle began at 6:00.

First up, you need to roast the squash. I cooked mine at 375 for 50 minutes.

Here it is, ready to be baked:



While this was happening, the boys went on a long walk with the dogs and I sat on the couch re-reading the last few chapters of the 5th Percy Jackson book because I speed-read them the first time very late Friday night. It's a fun finish to the series. Since I was on my own, I asked Lilly if she wanted to be my sous chef. She was super excited about the opportunity.



I also used the downtime to chop up some onion and parsley to toss with the squash. I kept some grape tomatoes and lemon on hand because I hadn't decided what else I was going to add. Ignore the cantaloupe and the basil plant- they're just bystanders.



Here is the mighty squash fully roasted. It's basically the exact same, but hotter.



And softer. It was very easy to cut in half, except for the stem- that was still tough, so I lobbed off the whole end to eliminate the resistance.



Next up you scoop out all the seeds. It's actually kind of tricky- the strings are strong and slippery and I kept freaking out that I was scooping out the "spaghetti" part of the "spaghetti squash." As it turns out, you can scrape away because you'll know when you get the real squashy stuff. I used a spoon, a knife, and then a grapefruit spoon. The ridged grapefruit spoon was most effective.



Then, and this is the magical part, you just take a fork and start pulling at the squash. It looks smooth and solid, but it's actually a whole bunch of noodles compacted together. It's amazing and I kept making JP come look at it so he could share in the wonder.



Ta-da! A bowl full of squash noodles!



They were so pretty, but I wasn't sure what to do next. I'd read a bunch of recipes on-line and decided to start with sautéing some onions and garlic in olive oil and butter. Then I was torn between adding lemon or tomato, but I was craving tomatoes, so I threw in a few of those. Then I added the squash and topped it all with fresh parsley and freshly grated parmesan.



And it was good- intriguing at first, and then quite tasty. But I needed more. I always try to like the "toss it with some butter and salt and pepper" directions but I invariably end up dumping in more ingredients. JP and I both liked it topped with spaghetti sauce. The noodles were still a little crunchy, so I don't think the full squash flavor had developed. Next time I plan to roast it longer and then go the simple route with lemon. JP still ate three bowls.



One down- and upside of the spaghetti squash is that it wasn't nearly as filling as regular spaghetti. One cup of pasta has 200 calories while a cup of spaghetti squash has less than 50. For someone like JP who spent his day swimming for 2 hours, lifting weights, and then going on an hour long walk- he needed the full pound of regular pasta. He was still hungry, so after dinner he made a big batch of blueberry pancakes and ate every one.

I, on the other hand, appreciated the lightness of the squash and celebrated my foray into spaghetti squashdom by making my own little after dinner snack.

The ingredients:



The final product:



Delicious! A fresh eating success.

17 comments:

  1. LOVE spaghetti squash! So much fun to scrape the "noodles" out. Yours looks really yummy! So did your dessert. Makes me want to dive into the ice cream we keep around for our nanny (who is my dad).

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  2. I actually just made my favorite spaghetti squash tonight. It's AWESOME and more filling than just the squash alone.
    1. I do all the same prep (well, I cut mine first, tho maybe I will try roasting it first next time).

    2. I then make my regular spaghetti sauce (jar sauce w/ sauteed garlic, mushrooms, onion and ground turkey) and stir that in.

    3. Top with shredded mozzarella (part-skim!) and bake until melted.

    4. Serve with salad & garlic bread, just like a regular pasta night. YUM!

    ~Kristen (meetmilo@gmail.com

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  3. Try butternut squash too! Cut in half, then roasted with brown sugar and butter. Yummy, sweet, and hard to believe it counts as a veggie! :)

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  4. LOVE spaghetti squash! And I'm a big fan of it with spaghetti sauce. My husband likes it with butter and brown sugar. Two totally different tastes. I've found that it's easier to clean if you cut it in half and clean out the seeds before you cook it. Then place it cut side down, poke a few fork holes in the top, add a couple tablespoons water, and bake for about 40-50 minutes.

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  5. It's generally easier to cut the squash in half first, remove the seeds and then roast. That way the seeds are easier to remove and the squash bakes better. It will be less crunchy.

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  6. Rainbow-order shirts2/23/10, 8:22 AM

    So weird - I made a pasta dish last night with spaghetti, and was thinking that next time I'd try using spaghetti squash instead to make it healthier. It involves eggplant and red bell pepper. Not sure how you feel about those veggies, but if you're interested, I'll post the recipe.

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  7. FYI, you can also microwave spaghetti squash-- very speedy, and just as good. And I agree with Anon above-- serve it just like pasta, with cheese (or even some cut-up chicken sausage), and it's more filling.

    J

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  8. I also recommend cutting and de-seeding the squash before cooking. With spaghetti squash I'll usually put it in the crockpot in the morning on low with an inch or so of water. That way it's ready to go as soon as I get home from school.

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  9. When I was eight my mom made spaghetti squash but told us it was spaghetti and I have been traumatized ever since. But I am obsessed with spaghetti and never thought about the difference in calories and increase in nutrients by attempting the switch again. Maybe I will brave the dreaded squash and test it out. But my husband is much like yours and often makes a giant bowl of cereal as a "second dinner" after I am completely stuffed.

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  10. Awesome! I was wondering how it worked out. I definitely would like to try that. It might be a good idea for Thanksgiving instead of those yucky sweet potatoes souffles that everyone expects(yes, I despise the sweet potato). Maybe we'll try a dry run - but make it as a side dish.

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  11. I don't really like pasta, but I love spaghetti squash with home-made spaghetti sauce. Yum! I always cook my spaghetti squash in the microwave. If you're in a hurry, you might want to try it - it's very quick. Cut the squash in half, put each half face down in a casserole dish with about an inch of water. Cover with plastic wrap and cook for about 11 minutes (just enough time to whip up a sauce).

    Thanks for sharing this! I'll have to try the roasting method and see how different the taste is.

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  12. Ooh, I am SO excited to try this!!

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  13. I love spaghetti mixed with spaghetti squash-- more filling.

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  14. if you don't have it, you might consider getting "The Art of Simple Food." fresh food and expanded recipe repertoire -- this would do it. and the recipes are wonderful.

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  15. Definitely try the microwave route if you want it quicker - I cut 5 or so slices into it (just poke with a knife so the steam can escape) and zap it for 10-15 min turning a couple times until it feels soft from the outside. Cut open, let cool a few minutes until soft enough to handle, then scoop out as normal.

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  16. Hi LL (and others), just wanted to share a friend's (she's a mommy/Lawyer) cooking blog:

    http://eaudespice.worldpress.com

    She's of Egyptian descent, so she has some exotic and tasty looking recipes!

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  17. Must have books for adding exciting new veggies to your diet

    The New American Plate Cookbook: Recipes for a Healthy Weight and a Healthy Life

    Dan-O won it in at a seminar at MD Anderson. He was the closest guess on how many calories there are in a Big Mac, with a large chocolate milkshake! He was very proud, especially because he was the only winner that won by Price is Right rules.

    Anyway, seriously every recipe I've tried was delicious. Especially the roasted red pepper sauce for the veggie lasagna. It would be delicious on your spaghetti squash!

    NOT kidding about wanting to find out your little girl's name!

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