I Can’t Believe It’s Not Pasta – Spaghetti Squash with Sun-dried Tomatoes and Spinach

October 30, 2011 § 8 Comments


See those silky golden strands of yumminess? They looks like delicate pasta noodles don’t they? But they aren’t. Dieters, have no fear – what you are looking at is spaghetti squash. I’ve heard of spaghetti squash for years but never actually tried it. I’ve seen lots of recipes for it but never noticed it in the market and never saw it out on a menu in a restaurant. Tonight while strolling through Whole Foods, there was a beautiful display of all kinds of squash and there it was – I couldn’t avoid it any longer. I grabbed the spaghetti squash, determined to figure out how to make this pasta lover’s alternate.

After a few quick google searches, I used this recipe as my starting point. Honestly the hardest part of this recipe is getting the darn squash cut in half and cleaned. With the effort it took I was a bit worried about the rest of the night – but alas, it was all easy as pie from there.

Before going in the oven, they were drizzled with a little olive oil, salt, pepper, and nutmeg. This had me pause for a moment. I knew the nutmeg is a go-to for squash but I was making a garlic base sauce for this, would nutmeg work? We would soon find out…

I roasted them for 30 minutes. In my haste of reading how to cook these babies, I mis-read and only cooked them 30 minutes despite the referenced recipe saying to do just 30 minutes they had to go in the microwave first. Oops. Honestly though, the resulting dish had just the slightest crunch that I really enjoyed. Next time I may cook them longer but I actually really liked the way it came out.

I sauteed some sliced garlic in olive oil over low heat. To this, I added one sliced shallot to give a mild onion flavor. I don’t cook much with sun-dried tomatoes but just opening the can made me question this. The smell just transports you to a sweet, sunny, tuscan day. A few spoonfulls of chopped sun-dried tomatoes and a splash of the juice went into the pan. Lastly, two handfulls of spinach went in. A little salt and pepper to season, some red pepper flakes for some heat, and the pan was set to low while the spinach wilted.

Now to get the squash out of their shell. I looked at the squash and just started scraping – it seemed to work. Scrape, scrape, scrape and little strands appeared. Once completely scraped out, the “spaghetti” was added to the pan. The last touch was a tablespoon of Earth Balance vegan buttery spread to add some creaminess (also, my first time actually using this product) and the dish was topped with some fresh basil and the toasted pine nuts.

Not only does this dish come across as elegant and gourmet, it is delicious and complex. The squash while delicate, had a slight crunch to it. The brightness of the sun-dried tomatoes and basil contrast the warm pine nuts and rich garlic nicely. The spinach adds even more healthy goodness to the dish. Oh, and that nutmeg? Yeah, it rocked. That little kick of warmth made me want to curl up and start listening to Christmas music tonight. Yes, I realize it’s still October.

All in all, this was an awesome dish. I’ll definitely be picking up the spaghetti squash next time I see it in the market. I’m looking forward to trying all sorts of pasta recipes out on this carb alternative.

Tip: I saved the squash seeds and toasted them as a little experiment. I read they were edible and figured I might as well give it a try before tossing them. The finished seed is deliciously nutty and slightly chewy. I’ll be enjoying them on a salad this week.

If you like the idea of pasta made out of vegetables, check out this yummy recipe for garlicky zucchini noodles with tomatoes and chickpeas.

Spaghetti Squash with Sun-dried Tomatoes and Spinach
Serves 3-4 bowls

Ingredients

1 spaghetti squash, cut in half and cleaned of seeds
3 tablespoons olive oil
1/8 teaspoon nutmeg
3 garlic cloves, sliced
1 shallot, sliced
2-3 tablespoons sun dried tomatoes, sliced (plus juice)
2 cups spinach
1 tablespoon Earth Balance vegan buttery spread
1/4 cup pine nuts, toasted
5-6 basil leaves, sliced
Salt and pepper to taste

Directions

  1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Cut squash in half. Clean inside until all seeds and strands are removed. Rub with 1 tablespoon olive oil, salt, pepper, and nutmeg. Bake for 30-40 minutes until done.
  2. Toast pine nuts in large pan over low-medium heat about 10 minutes until golden, set aside.
  3. Saute sliced garlic and shallot in two tablespoons olive oil over low-medium heat. Once fragrant and garlic is soft, add sun-dried tomatoes and juice and heat tomatoes through, about a minute or two.
  4. Reduce heat to low, add spinach, red pepper flakes, salt and pepper, and cook until wilted.
  5. Once squash is cooled, scrape down the center and around the sides to release the “spaghetti” strands. Mix in with spinach and tomato mixture. Fold in vegan buttery spread until melted. Top with pine nuts and basil.
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