Yum Peaceful Cooking: November 2011

Friday, November 11, 2011

Spaghetti Squash Boat and a WINNER!

Spaghetti squash. What do you do with that?!

I remember my mom making it once when I was a child. I wasn't impressed. I mean...spaghetti is one of the favorite foods of a child. Mess with it, and you could be asking for some serious trouble. Soooo...when mom served her spaghetti sauce over a shredded winter squash (because she was always trying to make us eat healthier)...I'm sure the whole lot of us revolted in one way or another. Poor mom. She's a great cook. She tried so hard to keep us kids healthy...back when "healthy eating" wasn't "in". Kids just don't always appreciate what their parents are trying to do for them. So...That was the end of my spaghetti squash experience.

Until recently.

My youngest (who's no long a "child" and will only be a teenager for another month) has been wanting me to make spaghetti squash for quite some time now. Because the idea didn't thrill me...I just never got around to it. The two of us took a little vacation during the summer to visit my family. Of course "Grandma" was more than eager and willing to make some for dinner. Problem was, we couldn't find it in the stores in August. (ya...its a winter squash).

A week or so later, when we were back home, I did see it at the stores. I bought it. I let it sit in my fridge for longer than it should've been. So I bought another one. I mean....I wasn't excited about playing with this stringy...rather large squash. It wasn't motivating. But I wanted to make it for my girls. Who happen to eat a lot healthier than I do. And are way more into the whole "health" thing than I am.

The time came to just do it. And that's when I happened to see a marvelous thing on TV. One of those cooking channels. I think it was Diners, Drive-Ins, and Dive or something...where they were interviewing the chef, who served his spaghetti, inside the squash shell. Well! How cool is that!

I was motivated then....thinking....'this could be fun!'

Btw....yes, I will get around to announcing the winner of the Tate's Bake Shop Cookbook and Whole Wheat Dark Chocolate Cookies giveaway. But I just wanted to tell you about my squash experience first. You don't mind too much, do you?

I don't have a recipe for this. It's more of a method. And I've already explained the madness behind the method...so here goes.

Spaghetti Squash Boats

Start bringing a large pot of water to a boil. While that's in progress...get your spaghetti squash and wash it. Get a good, sharp knife. I cut the ends off a little because they didn't look pretty...but I don't think its necessary. And its not easy...so you might want to save yourself the trouble. Cut the squash in half, length wise. You will see seeds in there that might remind you of pumpkin seeds. Yes you can roast them just like you would pumpkin seeds. I didn't. I should've. Scrape the seeds and strands out. Not the meat of the squash. Just the inside crud stuff.

Once your pot of water is boiling, place the squash halves in. Boil for about 20 minutes. Remove and drain. I placed them on a baking sheet, upside down so the excess water could drip out. Let them cool a bit.

While the squash is cooling, get your sauce ready. I used marinara sauce with some ground Italian seasoned turkey sausage. I then added some big chunks of cut up veggies to thicken everything up...such as zucchini, yellow squash, tomatoes, mushrooms and tossed those in. I did not want a runny sauce or even a thin sauce. I wanted chunky!

Once the squash is cool enough to touch, take a fork and start pulling the "meat" away...which will separate into thin strands, resembling spaghetti noodles. Leave about 1/2" of the squash unshredded so that your boat has stability.

Take those strands and add them to the sauce

Allow to cook a bit...say 15 minutes or so, on a low heat. This will give everyone in the pot a chance to get to know each other before they get cozy in the boat.

While that's happening, get out some mozzarella cheese and cut into nice thick slices, about 1/4" or so. The quantity will depend on how cheesy you want to get.

Line each squash with slices of cheese

Get your oven turned on a good high heat....maybe 450' F. Mound the boats with your sauce mixture and then top it all off with more cheese
Stick in the oven and let it get all hot and melty. The amount of time will depend on how hot your oven is and how close everything is to the heat source. I believe these babies were in there for about 10 minutes or so. Just keep an eye on it.  If it's not happening quick enough...adjust the temperature..move the oven rack. Whatever works. Take it out when it looks like this...

And enjoy your melty spaghetti squash boat. The "noodles" have a crisp texture. They're not soft and tender like pasta. They flavor is almost non-existent and will not interfere with the other flavors going on in your meal. 

Spaghetti squash is a great carb alternative. And contains all sorts of nutrients, folic acid, beta carotene, vitamin A, potassium....and is only 42 calories per cup. I think...if I hadn't loaded this boat up with cheese, it would've been a very healthy meal. But I just couldn't resist the cheese.

And now....the moment you all have been waiting for.....

The winner is.......(drum roll please)........

PATTI T!!!!!

Woo hooo!!! Congrats girlfriend! All I need is your address so Tate's Bake Shop can send out your goodies :)  You can email your info to me: peacefulcooking at gmail dot com