Thursday, March 14, 2013

Oodles of Noodles

Interesting fact about me is I'm actually not a huge fan of spaghetti and pasta. I'm probably like 85% Italian and grew up with lots of it. Pasta was a weekly meal in our house and that consisted of pasta, sauce, bread and Parmesan cheese. Even when I was younger I think my subconscious somehow saw that there was no veggies in this meal and turned me away from it.

Don't get me wrong I do occasionally enjoy pasta, though I'd much rather eat my empty calories in macaroni & cheese, but my hips hate it! That is why spaghetti squash is one of my best friends. I really love all squash and this is probably my third favorite after butternut and acorn. Once you cook it you can scrape the insides to produce spaghetti like strands of squash that are yummy and a great substitute for nutrition-less pasta.

Cooking spaghetti squash can seem like a daunting task to those who have never used it before but I have some tips and tricks for you. You could cut it in half (if you have the strength of an ox) and bake it for 40 minutes...OR you could pop it in the microwave for 10. Take your pic, but clearly there's a winner here. Take your squash and stab it with a knife 8-10 times all around, get decently deep with your stab so you get to the inside. The weight will depend on the cooking time so I suggest first popping it in for seven minutes test it out to see how tender it's gotten and continue to add time until the squash is softer and there's some water coming out of the stab wounds.

Be careful with smaller squashes because they will explode. No joke. Last week I was preparing some other things for the dish when I heard a loud POP! I opened the microwave to find this... just watch out on the cooking time! Once it's cooked slice it in half lengthwise, scoop out the seeds and some of that weird junk like pumpkins have. Then scrape away for tons of delish spaghetti strands. You can use them like regular noodles and top them with sauce or mix them up with additional ingredients. I made two different casseroles with them recently to give you some ideas.

The first was a Southwestern dish inspired by this recipe. Unfortunately when my squash exploded I couldn't stuff it anymore so decided to mix everything up into a casserole. This was an awesome combination and I'll definitely be making it again. In addition to the recipe I topped it with some avocado and a bit of Greek yogurt (as a sour scream sub).

Isn't that just gorgeous?
Mr. Charming hadn't had spaghetti squash before (not that I was surprised) and he really like it. What he liked even more is that he could have a good heaping portion of it as opposed to regular noodles where we are sure to stick to a serving size. When I said I could make it again he put in a special request for one that would have tomatoes, basil and mozzarella  "Spaghetti squash caprese!!!" I screamed, but he didn't know what caprese one. You win some, you lose some.

This was one was super easy. Pop your squash in the microwave and while it's cooking chop up two tomatoes and cut fresh mozzarella into small cubes. Transfer your cooked "spaghetti" to a large bowl and mix with these ingredients, add basil (I only had dried but it worked) and a handful or two of spinach. Next time I would definitely chop the spinach up some. Actually I'd chop up some onion and garlic and sautee it along with the spinach to break it down some. Trial and error!

Save some of the mozz cubes (or cut larger pieces...) and after transferring this mix to a casserole dish (8x8 worked great) throw the cheese on top. Bake for 15 minutes and then broil for two to let the cheese get extra gooey and the veggies crispy.

After starting this post I realized that over a year ago I posted about making "Easy Breezy Pasta Caprese", how funny? I went back and read it and the beginning of the post is pretty much identical. At least I'm consistent right?

Have you tried spaghetti squash? If you've cooked with it what some of your favorite ways to prepare and eat it?


Allison Hayes said...

I do not like pasta either, but I adore spaghetti squash! That recipe looks fantastic.

Lisa said...

I love that casserole dish. And we really like spag squash. It's actually cheaper at our grocery store than pasta.

Lindsay said...

We have started loving spag squash! It's a fantastic way to get my baked spag craving to be quiet ;)

Jen said...

i too am a big spagetti squash eater.. I cut it in half then scrape the pumpkin stuff out then bake.. i dont like dealing with warm pumpkin guts! haha :)

Shannon said...

I wish that I did not love pasta as much as I do. I tried making spaghetti squash once unsuccessfully. May have to take another crack at it. I like the idea of getting out some aggression on a day I am feeling a little stabby :)

Amy said...

I've never cooked spaghetti squash before but I've been wanting to try! Thanks for this tip!!

Anna T. said...

We all have a weakness :) The first couple times I made it the meals did not come out very well. It's taken some time to "get to know" the squash, all depends on it's size and how you're cooking.

And yes, the stabbing can be some fun stress relief ;)