“You know, when you get your first asparagus, or your first acorn squash, or your first really good tomato of the season, those are the moments that define the cook’s year. I get more excited by that than anything else.” ~ Mario Batali
I admit, as much as I try to be, I am no Mario Batali. I do not go out to my garden every morning, and peruse my vegetable garden to figure out what fresh findings will end up on the table that night. I wish I was. Until then, I’ve been taking baby steps through Kroger’s fresh fare isles. I do this because I’m trying to eat better.
Now that my mileage is getting higher and I am halfway through my marathon training as of today (eek) I am noticing that I am constantly hungry. If I don’t eat promptly, my good friend would tell you that I get hangry. It’s true. So now that I am consuming more, and requiring more from my food, I’ve started migrating from the middle frozen section of the grocery store to the outskirts. Truth be told, I’m really enjoying it there! In my adventures, I have found one of my new favorite things: spaghetti squash. You’ve been hearing the rumblings about it too? A lot of hype I know but trust me, it delivers, which says a lot coming from this carb craving Italian.
I had been hearing a lot about spaghetti squash recently. Spaghetti- that’s a word I’m comfortable with, but a substitute for pasta? Come on. I’ve had squash before-I love butternut squash but I thought you put things like honey or cinnamon on it, not marinara. This was all new to me. I wasn’t ready to give up my bowl of pasta for shredded squash until I saw this Tasty Kitchen blog post. It seemed simple and if I could substitute this for at least half of the meals I eat with pasta, I’d be off to a great start.
I went to Kroger, picked out my very own and headed home with high hopes, even if I was a little nervous. I mustered up my strength placed the whole squash on the baking pan leaving the box of spaghetti still in the cabinet and hoped for the best.
Simply pop it in the oven whole, on a baking sheet, at 375 for 40 minutes to an hour. Mine took close to an hour. Then take it out, cut length wise, deseed and then fork out the golden strands. Easy. Check out the Tasty Kitchen blog above for directions and pictures (my safety net while cooking). I tried it two ways. 1- with pine nuts, parmesan cheese and olive oil and once I was feeling a but more brave, 2- marina sauce.
It took me a little bit to come to grips with the fact that squash looked exactly like a bowl of spaghetti but once I got over that and tried it, it was delicious! Super simple and surprisingly filling. Another plus is spaghetti squash is high in beta carotene and a four ounce serving is said to have only 37 calories. Wow.
When you go out and look for your very own spaghetti squash make sure to stay away from squash that still have green spots or are soft to the touch. Make sure the squash is a pale yellow color. I’m really looking forward to using this not just as a whole meal but also a side with poultry or anything else I’d typically serve with pasta. Here are some great recipes I’m looking forward to trying with my new friend.
Spaghetti squash recipes that I want to try:
1. Italian stuffed spaghetti squash– italian sausage, bell peppers, onion, garlic, fresh parmesan cheese, marinara and the ingredient of the day…spaghetti squash. This looks and sounds delicious. I’m thinking pasta bolognese but of course…sans pasta. Squash bolognese.
2. Greek-style salad with spaghetti squash– oregano, garlic, tomato, cucumber, bell pepper, onion, kalamata olives (my favorite), feta cheese and our friend spaghetti squash.
3. Moroccan-spiced spaghetti squash– This recipe is from one of my new favorite blogs, Smitten Kitchen. This recipe just seems too good to pass up. It’s different from what you normally see put on spaghetti squash (marinara and things of the Italian persuasion). You use garlic, cumin, coriander, cayenne and cilantro. This reminds me of summer. I am already craving a porch, my Moroccan-spiced spaghetti squash and a crisp glass of wine. Mmm.
What’s your favorite vegetable? How do you like it prepared? Suggestions for more surprisingly good vegetables are welcome!