Spaghetti what? Said one of my former students, as I introduced the oblong, hard, yellowish squash to the class. You see I had traveled this road before… many times before. Each and every time I’ve mentioned those two separate words together to a group of people who clearly weren’t fans, I’d get that exact same reaction. If I’m really honest I probably did the very same thing the first time it was introduced to me. It wasn’t until I met the love of my life that I could actually share the joys of spaghetti squash with someone else that loved it just as much as I did. I remember it like it was yesterday, we were pitching dinner ideas back and forth the way participants place bids during an auction. And then she said those words that let me know that this relationship would last forever. “Babe, why don’t we ever have spaghetti squash?” My hands and feet went numb, while I stared into her eyes like they were crystal balls. Cupid had shot me with a double dose of his love potion. I know what you’re thinking… was it really that serious? And I’d answer yes it was. You see, if you’ve never had it, then you’re not living life to the fullest. Spaghetti squash are unlike any other squash. Yes, the outside is very hard, like an acorn , or butternut squash. But when you cut them in half, scoop out the seeds and steam them, the inside goes from being a hard mass of raw squash to thin strands of what looks like noodles. That my friends is nothing short of magic! From there, a large spoon is needed to scoop out the flesh. The rest is entirely up to you. Toss the spaghetti squash with herbs, butter, and salt. Or use them as you would spaghetti.
Whether you’re a child or a bodybuilder, the nutrition in spaghetti squash is of rock star quality. Each squash contains trace amounts of every mineral, but has higher concentrations of potassium which has a part in building muscle. There are also higher concentrations of vitamin C which aids the immune system and helps to patch up wounds. Add to those awesome facts that spaghetti squash is low in carbohydrates! Each cup contains 10 grams of carbs which makes it ideal for weight loss. How’s that for living life to the fullest? Go get yourself some, steam it, toss it, experiment, live your life! Here’s a version of the recipes that captured my heart. Guys, girls, serve ‘em up on your next dinner date and see what happens. Good luck : )
Roasted Spaghetti Squash with Parmigiano-Reggiano Recipe
•1 large spaghetti squash (about 5 pounds)
•4 tablespoons olive oil
•Freshly ground black pepper
•2 medium garlic cloves, finely chopped
•1 medium shallot, finely chopped
•3/4 cup finely grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese, plus extra for serving
Heat the oven to 400°F and arrange a rack in the middle. Cut the squash in half lengthwise and scrape out the seeds. Brush the flesh with 2 tablespoons of the oil and season generously with salt and pepper. Place the squash halves cut-side up on a baking sheet and roast until fork tender, about 50 minutes.
Remove the squash from the oven and let sit at room temperature until cool enough to handle, about 30 minutes. Scrape the flesh with a fork to make long strands; set aside.
Heat the remaining 2 tablespoons of oil in a large saucepan over medium heat until shimmering, about 3 minutes. Add the garlic and shallot, season with salt and pepper, and cook until softened and lightly browned, about 3 minutes.
Add the reserved squash, toss with tongs to coat thoroughly, and cook until heated through, about 3 minutes. Remove from the heat and add the cheese a handful at a time while tossing the squash to evenly coat. Serve with freshly ground black pepper and extra cheese.
The Meatball Shop’s
2 cups lentils
1/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons olive oil
1 large onion, chopped
2 carrots, chopped
2 celery stalks, chopped
1 garlic clove, minced
1 tablespoon chopped fresh thyme
2 teaspoons salt
3 tablespoons tomato paste
8 ounces button mushrooms, wiped clean and sliced
3 large eggs
1/2 cup grated rennet-free Parmesan cheese
1/2 cup bread crumbs
1/2 cup chopped fresh parsley
1/4 cup finely chopped walnuts-
1. Combine the lentils and 2 quarts water in a medium stockpot and bring to a boil over high heat. Reduce the heat to low and simmer until the lentils are soft but not falling apart, about 25 minutes. Drain the lentils and allow to cool.
2. Add 1/4 cup of the olive oil to a large frying pan and sauté the onions, carrots, celery, garlic, thyme and salt over medium-high heat, stirring frequently, for about 10 minutes, until the vegetables are tender and just beginning to brown. Add the tomato paste and continue to cook, stirring constantly, for 3 minutes. Add the mushrooms and cook, stirring frequently, for 15 more minutes, or until all the liquid is absorbed. Transfer the mixture to a large bowl and allow to cool to room temperature. When cool, add the lentils to the vegetable mixture.
3. Add the eggs, Parmesan, bread crumbs, parsley and walnuts to the cooled vegetables and lentils and mix by hand until thoroughly incorporated. Place in the refrigerator for 25 minutes.
4. Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Drizzle the remaining 2 tablespoons olive oil into a 9-by-13-inch baking dish and use your hand to evenly coat the entire surface. Set aside.
5. Roll the mixture into round golf ball-size meatballs (about 1 1/2 inches), making sure to pack the vegetable mixture firmly. Place the balls in the prepared baking dish, allowing 1/4 inch of space between the balls and in even rows vertically and horizontally to form a grid.
6. Roast for 30 minutes, or until the meatballs are firm and cooked through. Allow the meatballs to cool for 5 minutes in the baking dish before serving.
Yield: About 2 dozen 1 1/2-inch meatballs
Rocco’s How Low Can You Go Low-Fat Marinara Sauce
Makes 6 1/2 cups (13 servings)
1/2 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
6 garlic cloves, minced
1 large yellow onion, cut into small dice
Crushed red pepper
Two 28-ounce cans tomato puree
1/2 cup water
1 small piece of Parmigiano- Reggiano cheese rind
1 large sprig fresh basil
Heat a Dutch oven over medium heat. When the pot is hot, add the olive oil. Add the garlic and onion, and season them with salt and crushed red pepper to taste. Cook, stirring occasionally, until the onion and garlic are translucent, about 4 minutes.
Add the tomato puree, water, and Parmigiano-Reggiano rind to the pot. Bring to a simmer. Then cover, reduce the heat to low, and simmer for about 25 minutes.
With the back of a knife, bruise the basil and stir the sprig into the sauce. Simmer the sauce, uncovered, for 5 minutes. Season with salt and crushed red pepper to taste, if desired. Serve, or store in a covered container in the refrigerator for up to 5 days.
Per serving: 20.0 calories, 10.0 calories from fat, 1.5g total fat, 0.0g saturated fat, 0.0mg cholesterol, 70.0mg sodium, 2.0g total carbs, 0.0g dietary fiber, 0.9g sugars, 0.0g protein
DiSpirito, R. (2010, 05). Rocco’s how low can you go low-fat marinara sauce. Retrieved from http://www.epicurious.com/recipes/food/views/Roccos-How-Low-Can-You-Go-Low-Fat-Marinara-Sauce-363439
Kannall, E. (2013, 09 25). Nutritional value of spaghetti squash. Retrieved from http://www.livestrong.com/article/86012-spaghetti-squash-nutrition-value/
Parker-Pope, T. (2011, 11 14). The meatball shop goes vegetarian. Retrieved from http://well.blogs.nytimes.com/2011/11/14/the-meatball-shop-goes-vegetarian/?_r=0
Ramos, K. (2008). Roasted spaghetti squash with parmigiano-reggiano recipe. Retrieved from http://www.chow.com/recipes/13563-roasted-spaghetti-squash-with-parmigiano-reggiano
Steamy kitchen. (2013). spaghetti squash image. Retrieved from http://www.steamykitchen.com/11285-baked-spaghetti-squash-with-garlic-and-butter.html