Wednesday, February 5, 2014

Easy Spaghetti Squash Pasta

Time for another recipe! As I mentioned in my New Year's Post, I am on a mission to improve my overall health. I am trying to make small changes and this dish takes one of my favorite recipes and makes it just a little bit healthier.

Spaghetti squash is an excellent replacement for traditional pasta. It may look intimidating, but it is actually quite easy to make. The hardest part is cutting the squash in two...seriously, it takes a bit of muscle. Please be careful while doing this!! Slow and steady with heavy pressure, allow the weight of your knife do most of the work. This is also a good time to pre-heat the oven to 350 degrees.

Just like a pumpkin you carve during Halloween, spaghetti squash has a thick, fleshy interior with stringy fibers and seeds. The part you will be eating is the fleshy interior. Use a large table spoon to scoop out the fibers and seeds. 

You will be left with two hollowed out halves. 

Next, I take a little bit of extra virgin olive oil, about a tablespoon for each half, and brush it on both sides of the squash. This will help give the squash a nice golden color while roasting.

Flip the squash over and poke a few holes in the squash with a fork. Then brush some more EVOO on and sprinkle both sides with Kosher salt. Place the squash, flesh side down, on a foil lined baking sheet. Bake for about 40-45 minutes. 

The spaghetti squash will have a nice golden brown color around the edges. So how do you get spaghetti? Using a towel, hold the spaghetti squash with the towel in one had and use a fork to scrape out the cooked flesh. Starting at the top of the squash, scrape down with the fork, pulling the strings out. It should come out pretty easily.

And this is what it looks like done! A large bowl of 'pasta'. It is such a nice alternative to noodles which can pack on 200 calories per cup while spaghetti squash runs about 40-45 calories per cup. (Nutritional data found here.)

I like to top my spaghetti squash with some chicken sausage, garlic, chopped Roma tomatoes, chopped artichokes, capers, basil, and Parmesan cheese. This dish is so versatile you can easily make it all vegetarian or vegan by simply removing the meat and cheese, though I have to say that the Parmesan cheese makes this dish so much better! 

So if you haven't tried spaghetti squash, go for it. You won't be disappointed!

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