Before you really start to put on the pounds with carb-heavy comfort foods, there is one vegetable out there that can give you all the flavors you crave when the weather starts to cool down. This gourd gives you a lighter carb load than its namesake counterpart. Even with some diabolical sauce and topping combinations, this ingredient just seems a bit lighter – until I get my hands on it!
I am talking about… the spaghetti squash! Fast, tasty and even (depending on how you sauce it) kinda healthy, the squash can be paired with nearly any sauce you would put with regular spaghetti and doesn’t sit as heavily as pasta.
Want to give it a shot? Here’s an easy and delicious way to prepare it.
First, go to Gateway Market and pick up a large spaghetti squash or two. You’ll also need some sauce (from scratch or pre-made… I’ve included a recipe below if you want to make your own), mozzarella and Parmesan cheeses and sausage (if you’re so inclined).
When you’re ready to cook, split the squash in two lengthwise and scoop out the seeds.
If you have the time, place the squash in a preheated 400 degree oven and bake it for an hour. If not, you can do what I do – place the squash on a plate and put it in the microwave, uncovered with the turn table off. Cook for about 12 to 15 minutes depending on the squash size. You can tell when it is done because the squash flesh pulls away easily like actual noodles. Since microwaving the squash can produce a lot of steam, you may need to set it in a colander and let the excess liquid drain.
When squash is done, scoop out the flesh and toss it with your favorite sauce, mozzarella cheese, sausage and Parmesan cheese. Season with a little olive oil, garlic and fresh basil.
Place the mixture in an oven/microwave safe pan, top with a little bit of mozzarella cheese and Parmesan. Heat until the cheese is melted; if you’re using the oven, bake until the cheese starts to brown. If the squash/sauce mixture is too runny, you may need to add breadcrumbs or additional cheese to thicken it up.
Some of my favorite sauces are carbonara, puttanesca, bolognese and tomato basil, but this recipe will work with your favorite meat sauce or cream sauce, too. Here is a scratch recipe for sauce that works great – this makes a little over a cup of sauce per four persons.
You’ll need the following:
- 1 tablespoon chopped garlic
- 2 teaspoons salt (mix together with garlic to chop)
- 1/4 cup corn starch (mix together with 1/4 cup water)
- 1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese
- 1 tablespoon butter
- 1 cup crumbled Gorgonzola
- 1 quart heavy cream
Heat a pan. Add butter and garlic, cook gently but do not brown. Add cream and bring to a boil. Thicken sauce with corn starch and water mixture. Add Parmesan cheese and season with salt and pepper. For thicker sauce, add 1 tablespoon mixed of the corn starch with 1 tablespoon water to desired thickness. Add crumbled Gorgonzola and toss desired amount of sauce with the squash and serve.
You can top all of this with sliced chicken breast, crispy prosciutto, toasted buttered panko breadcrumbs and toasted nuts for an extreme taste overload that you probably have never had from a squash.