Nov 14, 2013

Real Food Close-Up: Spaghetti Squash

It has been too long since I have done a Real Food Close-Up.  There are SO many interesting and delicious vegetables that I want to introduce you to so it was hard to choose, but in the spirit of the season I decided to do this Real Food Close-Up on squash.  More specifically, I’d like to introduce you to my friend, Mr. Spaghetti Squash.

Spaghetti Squash 2

Spaghetti squash is just what is sounds like.  Squash that looks (and tastes) like spaghetti.  Let me explain what I mean when I say it tastes like spaghetti.  Spaghetti squash is a very neutral tasting squash – it really takes on the flavour of whatever you top it with.  Throw on some homemade pasta sauce or whatever else you usually top noodles with, and you will feel like you are eating a bowl of spaghetti.  I swear!

Spaghetti squash is so neutral that even the squash haters out there will love it.  Though I don’t actually like to call you squash haters – you are just “people who haven’t learned to love squash yet”.  If this is you, spaghetti squash is a great place to start.

I feel like Spaghetti squash has become more mainstream in the last few years, mostly due to the increasing popularity of the Paleo Diet.  Eating spaghetti squash is like eating pasta without the noodles, so it’s a meal that incorporates more Real Food than pasta and an extra serving or two of vegetables. It’s also great for people who are gluten-free or have other dietary restrictions.

Most squash have a similar nutritional profile.  They are high in Vitamin A and C, have loads of fibre and antioxidants and are an anti-inflammatory food.  You can’t say that about processed pasta noodles.

Spaghetti Squash

When I met my husband Jon, he had actually never tried spaghetti squash.  Now it is one of our very favourite meals.  We usually make homemade tomato sauce with the tomatoes we canned this summer and add other veggies and ground chicken or beans.  Lately I’ve been buying really huge squash from the market so it makes enough to feed us for a few days.

Seeing as most people probably already have a favourite “spaghetti sauce”  to try with spaghetti squash, I thought I would create a recipe that was a little more unique.  Still using tomatoes as a base, I created a greek-style dish that turned out delicious.  Jon was impressed with the new twist on one of our favourites.

Spaghetti Squash 3

{Please ignore the bad photo quality.  I forgot it would be dark by the time I made it!}

Greek Spaghetti Squash with Shrimp

Prep Time: 15 minutes
Cook Time:  1 hour

Ingredients

1 medium spaghetti squash
5 large tomatoes, chopped and diced
2 zucchini, chopped and diced
1 red or green pepper, chopped and diced
1 large onion, chopped and diced
2 cloves garlic, chopped
1 1lb bag of uncooked shrimp
1/2 cup of fresh parsley, loosely packed
1/2 cup pitted kalamata olives
1/2 cup crumbled feta cheese (optional)
2 tbsp red wine vinegar
1 tbsp olive oil
2 tsp dried oregano
1 tsp dried thyme
pinch of salt

Directions

1.  Prepare the spaghetti squash:  Preheat the oven to 425 degrees.  Cut the squash in half length-wise, remove the seeds and guts, and then place facedown on a cookie sheet.  Place in the oven and cook for 45 – 60 minutes (length of time will depend on the size of the squash).  Prepare the sauce while the squash is cooking.  (Note:  I’ve recently seen the idea of cooking the spaghetti squash in the crockpot, but have yet to try it.  It would be great for having the meal ready after work.)
2.  Place one diced tomato in the food processor along with the parsley, vinegar, oregano and thyme.  Pulse a few time unless just mixed (do not overprocess or the sauce will be too runny).
3.  Put olive oil, onions and garlic in a large pan.  Sautee until onions are cooked.
4.  Add zucchini and peppers.  Sautee until lightly cooked.
5.  Add tomatoes, and the blended tomato mixture. If you really love olives, you can add the olives here and the sauce will have more of an “olive-y” flavour.  Bring to a boil and then lower to simmer.
6.  Simmer sauce until most of the water has been cooked off.
7.  Add shrimp.  Cook until shrimp are no longer pink.
8.  When squash is done, remove from the oven and use a fork to remove the “spaghetti” (just scrape at it with the fork – you will see the magic happen).
9.  Serve squash on a plate and ladle sauce over top.  Add crumbled feta and olives (if you haven’t already used).
10.  Serve and enjoy!

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Another great way to top spaghetti squash is with a pesto (such as my kale pesto).  Or you could even use it in vegetable fritters.

Here are some other delicious looking spaghetti squash recipes from around the web:

Spaghetti Squash Noodle Bowl with Lime Peanut Sauce from Nosh On It
Spaghetti Squash with Basil and Creamy Cauliflower Alfredo Sauce from The Healthy Family and Home
Garlic Parmesean Spaghetti Squash from Brittany Herself
Spaghetti Squash with Turkey Meatballs from Thyme of Taste
Spaghetti Squash Pancakes from Carrot & Cake

I should tell you that Tyson is off and on with spaghetti squash.  He always loves the sauce but will pick up pieces of the squash and say “hair?” and then refuse to eat it.   But we keep serving it to him every time we have it, and last night he actually ate a few big spoonfuls of it before focusing in on the shrimp and tomatoes.  He is still getting acquainted with Mr. Spaghetti Squash, but I’m sure he’ll come around.

I just re-read this post and saying spaghetti squash so many times starts to sounds like a tongue-twister.  Can you say it three times fast?

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Have you tried spaghetti squash?  If so, what is your go-to recipe?

Leave a Reply

3 comments
  1. Julia

    November 14, 2013 a las 9:58 am

    We have three of the smallest spaghetti squash I have ever seen sitting on our counter. We were supposed to eat them last night with our bean “meat” balls and tomato sauce but switched to pasta at the last minute due to time. I think we’ll try your greek recipe with the squash this weekend!!

  2. Sarah @ Kids Heart Real Food

    November 14, 2013 a las 9:58 am

    Can’t wait to hear how you guys like it.

  3. Sarah @ Kids Heart Real Food

    November 14, 2013 a las 9:58 am

    Thanks! I was channeling my inner Jesse a little bit – your photos tips inspired me. I just need a condo with better lighting!