My sister introduced me to spaghetti’s doppelgänger when I was in my early twenties. A good friend of her’s was studying to be a dietician and told her of this wonderful thing called spaghetti squash. It looked and tasted JUST like spaghetti, but was a VEGGIE! Clearly, God’s gift to pasta loving girls in their early twenties. We went to Ralph’s (TJ’s wasn’t on our radar yet) to hunt one down. After baking it, smothering it in sauce, and topping it with cheese, we dove in. It disappointingly did not taste like pasta. It didn’t even smell like pasta.
That being said, while spaghetti squash may not be pasta’s identical twin, it sure is a tasty way to eat some squash. Ever since, I have been determined to make the most out of spaghetti squash. After trying it a few different ways over the years, I determined that I prefer it prepared as a spaghetti/pasta imitator. My favorite way to eat it is in the casserole form where the chunky sauce bakes into the squash.
Recipe for: Squash the Pasta
Note: I have a bone to pick with squash in general – they’re stubborn SOBs. I find it really difficult to cut the tough skin varieties. Zucchini not a problem, but man those tough fellows (acorn, butternut, spaghetti) can get me worked up. Anyways, to avoid losing it and chucking my knife across the kitchen, I microwave the spaghetti squash before cutting it in half. The skin softens and I can actually manhandle the sucker, once it cools down.
- spaghetti squash – they come in all sizes, so pick the one that’s right for you. I prefer the big guys because they will feed my whole fam and leave us with leftovers.
- approximately 1 pound of ground turkey
- 1 tablespoon of olive oil
- 1 yellow onion, diced
- jar of your favorite marinara sauce (I used an organic marinara from TJ’s)
- 1/2 cup of grated or shredded parmesan cheese
- Wash the spaghetti squash and stab it several times with a sharp knife (just as you would a potato you’re about to bake).
- Place the spaghetti squash on a plate in the microwave for about 10 – 12 minutes. Of course, the cook time depends on the size, so adjust as needed.
- While the spaghetti squash is in the micro, work on the sauce. Add the olive oil to a large sauce pan and heat on medium. Add the diced onion and ground turkey. Cook until the onion is soft and turkey is browned.
- Add the jar of marinara sauce to the ground turkey and onion. Cook until turkey is cooked through.
- Remove from the microwave and let it sit for a few minutes. The spaghetti squash will continue steaming and cooking during this time.
- Cut it in half and remove the seeds. Remove the spaghetti strands from each half and place them in a casserole dish (sprayed with olive oil). Spread the squash to cover the entire casserole dish.
- Add the sauce to the casserole dish and stir it well.
- Place the casserole dish (uncovered) in the oven on a low broil for approximately 15 minutes, stirring every 5 minutes or so. The squash and turkey are already cooked, so this step adds a nice crispiness to the dish.
- After 15 minutes, sprinkle the parmesan cheese on top and return it to the low broil until the cheese melts.
- Serve a la cart or along side a salad.
If you’re on the prowl for semolina pasta’s healthier alternative, you should check out whole wheat, brown rice, and/or quinoa pasta (usually a blend of quinoa and corn). All three options are really good and bear a close resemblance to traditional pasta.