It’s Tuesday which means the worst of the week (Monday) is over and I don’t know about you, but it feels like the next two weeks are pretty much one holiday party after another. And tonight the beginning of Hanukkah, so there’s a lot of fun stuff going on!
I’m just about to head out the door for a spin class, my new favorite workout, but before I do, I wanted to talk vegetables for a minute…
. . . . .
Have you ever tasted a really ripe tomato in the middle of summer? It was probably reeeeally good. Juicy, sweet, maybe a little tangy. Have you ever tasted a ripe tomato in the winter? It probably tasted… red.
Superior taste is just one of many reasons to eat seasonally, but it’s all the reasoning I need (better prices, higher nutrient content, and sustainability are all bonuses). Just as I look forward to tomatoes and peaches in the summer, I also look forward to the many types of hearty squash that are in season during the fall and winter months.
Here in California, it’s relatively easy to find a variety of squash year round in most grocery stores, but that’s not the case at the farmers’ market, where I shop. So at the end of the year, when squash starts showing up regularly at my local farmers’ market, I make sure to regularly schedule it into our weekly meal plans, as well.
Today, I want to give spaghetti squash some love. This yellow, dinosaur egg-shaped squash was the original pasta-replacement, filling in for carby noodles way before spiralized zucchini and carrots entered the scene. Spaghetti squash is extremely simple to prepare. Once you’ve done it once, you’ll know how forever. No complicated recipes here.
The only fancy tool you need to turn this squash into spaghetti is a fork, and I bet you’ve got one or two of those laying around. A baked spaghetti squash yields a deceptively large amount of “noodles”, so one squash can easy turn into multiple meals.
For those of you who are already familiar with the process of baking a spaghetti squash, feel free to skip down to the end of this post where I share one of my favorite ways to dinner-ify the baked vegetable.
[How To] Bake Spaghetti Squash
Step 1: Preheat your oven to 350 degrees. Wash and dry your squash. Grab your biggest, sharpest knife and slice off the stem. The point of slicing off the stem is to create a flat surface on the bottom of the squash, which will make the next step much easier and safer.
Step 2: Slice the squash in half, length-wise. If you can, recruit a cute boy to do this for you. Use a spoon to remove the seeds and excess strings. Don’t worry about getting all of the strings; just focus on the slimy ones. Brush the inside of the squash with olive oil, and sprinkle with salt and pepper.
Step 3: Place cut side down on a foil-lined baking sheet. Bake for 40 minutes, or until tender. Remove from the oven and allow to cool slightly. Once the squash is cool enough to handle, flip so that the cut sides face up, and use a fork to “rake” out the spaghetti-like noodles.
Step 4: Eat the noodles! You can incorporate them into any traditional pasta dish.
I personally love spaghetti squash noodles on their own, drizzled with a little olive oil, salt and pepper. Or with some mashed-up avocado for a really delicious meal. You could certainly recreate a more traditional pasta dish using tomato sauce or a chili, or bake the noodles into your favorite casserole. This past Sunday, Andrew and I beefed up our spaghetti squash with some chicken sausage, shredded kale, and tomatoes. See below for the recipe.
Spaghetti Squash w/ Chicken Sausage, Kale & Tomatoes
(Serves 4 easily or 2 with plenty of leftovers)
1 spaghetti squash, baked, “noodles” removed
1 T olive oil
2 chicken sausages (I like the Trader Joe’s sun-dried tomato chicken sausages), diced
1 handful lacinato kale, thinly sliced
2-3 beef stock tomatoes
1-2 cloves garlic, minced
pecorino or parmesan cheese, for garnish
1. In a medium skillet over medium heat, brown the chicken sausage in olive oil, about 6-8 minutes.
2. Add kale, tomatoes, and garlic. Saute for 5-10 additional minutes, until kale has wilted but is still bright green.
3. Add spaghetti squash noodles and stir to combine. Garnish with pecorino or parmesan and serve immediately. Enjoy!
[Photo credit: Market squash]