Monday, March 23, 2009

Fun With Spaghetti Squash

Baby artichoke sauce on spaghetti squash.

Pulling the spaghetti strands from the sides.

Simmering the baby artichokes.

"Double spaghetti".

I lied when I said butternut squash was my last fling with winter squash this year. I couldn’t resist a spaghetti squash at the grocery store and I always have so much fun preparing them. OK, you’re asking, how much fun can you have with spaghetti squash? But, if you’ve never made it, you will be delighted when you turn this football shaped, 3 pound squash into delicate strands of low calorie spaghetti. If you are trying to get your kids (or anyone else in your family) to eat more vegetables, try mixing a little spaghetti with spaghetti squash for what I call, “double spaghetti”.

Spaghetti squash can replace regular spaghetti in any recipe where you want to prepare a lighter dish that has fewer calories and gets you closer to your goal of 5 to 7 fruits and vegetables a day. One cup of spaghetti is 221 calories and 43 grams of carbohydrates. One cup of cooked spaghetti squash is only 42 calories and 10 grams of carbohydrates. So if you are trying to lose weight but still crave pasta, this can really do the trick!

I’ll be sharing my brother Peter's vegetarian baby artichoke sauce recipe but first, let’s cook up the squash.


Steamed Spaghetti Squash
1 three pound spaghetti squash cut in half
Sea salt

Cut the squash in half, remove the seeds and sprinkle the insides with salt. Put them in a large pot and steam them in an inch or two of water. Some people bake them in the oven until the skin is soft but I worry that you can overcook them and not know until it’s too late. Overcooking causes the squash to be mushy and you don’t get the beautiful spaghetti strands that you are looking for. Steam for about 15 to 18 minutes or until a fork can gently pierce the inside of the squash. As soon as that happens, remove the squash halves from the pot immediately. Then, using a fork, gently pull the squash away from the sides. You’ll see little strands form. Continue to do this until all of the squash comes away from the skin. One large spaghetti squash can feed 4 people.

Per 1 ½ cup serving: 63 calories, zero grams of fat, zero mg of cholesterol, 1.5 g protein, 15 g of carbohydrates and 3 g of fiber.


Double Spaghetti
[makes 4 servings]
¼ pound of whole wheat spaghetti
4 cups cooked spaghetti squash

Cook the spaghetti squash as stated above. Cook the whole wheat pasta according to directions. Toss together and serve with a sauce of your choice.

Per serving: 147 calories, zero grams of fat, zero mg of cholesterol, 4.5 g protein, 31 g of carbohydrates and 4.5 g of fiber.


Pete’s Baby Artichoke Sauce [serves 4]
1 tablespoon of extra virgin olive oil
1 pound of baby artichokes, sliced vertically into 8 pieces
1 small onion or large shallot, cut in half and then in thin slices
The juice and zest of one lemon
½ cup of white wine (and another glass for the chef)
2 tablespoons of grated parmesan cheese
3 large garlic cloves, minced
1/3 cup chopped parsley
Salt and pepper to taste
Water or broth, as needed

Clean the artichokes by removing several outer layers of leaves (don’t skimp – if you don’t remove enough of the outer leaves, as I found out, the artichokes will be tough). Leave the stem on and peel it with a potato peeler. Cut vertically into 8 pieces. Sauté the onion or shallot in the olive oil for a few minutes. Add the garlic and cook another minute. Then add the artichokes, white wine, salt and pepper and simmer covered until soft (about 30 minutes – but all artichokes are different so test the leaves occasionally). Add ½ cup or more of water or broth when the sauce starts to get too thick. When the artichokes are soft, stir in the zest and juice of a lemon. Put over 4 servings of spaghetti squash or “double spaghetti”. Cover with fresh chopped parsley and parmesan cheese. For a better melding of the flavors, you can mix the spaghetti squash or “double spaghetti” into the sauce first and then serve but it isn’t as pretty a presentation.

Per serving of sauce: 128 calories, 4 g fat, 1 g saturated fat, 2 mg cholesterol, 4.5 g protein, 14.5 g carbohydrates and 8.3 g fiber.

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