Yesterday I told you about the “Spaghetti” I made on Wednesday, but not the noodle kind, the squash kind. You think you like pasta? Compared to this nutrient and flavored packed squash, pasta tastes like cardboard. This is something I didn’t start eating until I was an adult, just like everyone else, I had my favorites as a kid and was pretty inclined to stick to those, until I realized there was an entire produce section that I had been missing out on. I started exploring more and experimenting with a wider variety of vegetables. If I see something at the grocery store I’ve never had, I’ll pick it up and try to cook it. Now, sometimes that doesn’t turn out so well, as I’m not very good at following directions, or even looking for directions altogether. Luckily, many varieties of squash come with a little sticker that tells you how to prepare them, so the squash experiment went much better than some of the others. When whole, spaghetti squash looks like this:
Not so appetizing, I know, but when sliced in half and steamed, the flesh of the squash softens and looks like little tiny strands of spaghetti, thus the name, spaghetti squash. If you think you don’t like squash, it’s time to try it again, our tastes change throughout our lives and we shouldn’t deprive our taste buds of new experiences based upon the past. Spaghetti squash has a light, sweet flavor and is slightly crisp, depending on how long you cook it. It can be eaten plain with a little bit of butter, salt and pepper, or with traditional spaghetti toppings light marinara and meat balls. Thus is born, Spaghetti Squash and Meat Sauce. Not my idea, but it’s one of my favorites.
Spaghetti Squash and Meat Sauce (it tastes better when you say it with an Italian accent)
1: With a large knife, cut the squash in half, length wise. Scoop out the seeds and guts and throw them away.
2. Place squash in a large stock pot and fill with water until squash are half way covered (we’re going to steam/boil them) and put it on high heat. Or, as some friends pointed out to me, it is just as easy to place the squash on a baking sheet, drizzle it with olive oil, and roast it in the oven at 350 degrees.
3. While the squash is steaming/boiling/roasting, dice the onion and brown it in a skillet with one pound of ground beef.
4. Put about a teaspoon of oregano in with the meat, more if you like it, less if you don’t.
5. When the meat, cover the meat with marinara sauce and set to the side because the squash probably still isn’t done yet.
6. When the squash is soft enough to pull apart with a fork, give it a taste and see if it is your desired crispness. If it is still too crisp, keep cooking until you like the consistency. It’s a vegetable so it’s not like you can get food poisoning from under cooking it.
7. When the squash is finished, drain the water and let the squash sit to cool. (Unless you have gloves or tough fingers, it will be too hot to handle). Put your mixture of marinara and meat back on low heat to warm.
8. When it is cooled, use a fork to pull the flesh from the skin of the squash, put it in a large bowl with a little butter on top.
9. Just like you would pasta, put some squash on each plate and cover it with meat sauce and a dollop of ricotta cheese.
Now you don’t need whole wheat pasta to get your fiber, you’ve got a whole food filled with vitamins and nutrients that hasn’t been processed or fortified. Watch out for that spaghetti sauce, though, they sneak sugar and high fructose corn syrup in even the most wholesome looking things these days! Stick with the sauce with the fewest ingredients! If you’d like to mix some sausage with the ground beef that would be even tastier, I didn’t because, in classic Lauren-style, all of mine was frozen solid in the deep freezer.
Happy cooking! Give this recipe a try this weekend!