Monday, August 4, 2014

Baked Spinach and Cheese Stuffed Spaghetti Squash

Our family is probably typical in that pasta makes up at least one of our meals per week. Sometimes it's simple spaghetti or sometimes it's a little more complicated like Chicken Marsala. Either way, for me it's pasta, and right now that just does not fit in my dietary restrictions at the moment. Do I plan on giving up pasta forever? Probably not, but for right now I am seeking out alternatives that I can enjoy without having to cook two completely different meals. Last week, since Dork and Quirky were having spaghetti, I decided to give spaghetti squash a try as a substitute. This is something that I had never tried before. I was pleased to find it easy to cook and delicious to eat. This is what I did:

First I cut the spaghetti squash in half and scraped out all the seeds and pulp from the center of the squash. Since the squash is hard like a pumpkin, I decided to try the pumpkin carving tool to cut the squash in half. It worked like a charm. Next I used and ice cream scoop to scrape out the seeds and pulp. It was just like carving a pumpkin and was a lot simpler than I expected it to be.

Next I sprayed a cookie sheet lightly with olive oil spray and placed the halves, flesh side down, on the sheet. I let them bake for about 40 minutes in an oven preheated to 450°F. 

Once the squash was done, I used a fork to scrape out the flesh into spaghetti like strands. I placed the flesh into a paper towel lined colander to allow the excess moisture to drain. Spaghetti squash seems to have a lot of moisture in it. All of this was easier than it looks and not really that time consuming. 

After getting out as much excess moisture as possible, I placed the flesh back inside the squash skin. On top of the flesh I packed in about a cup in half of fresh baby spinach. Then I layered on about a half a cup of spaghetti sauce. I used store bought, but I imagine homemade would taste even better. After the sauce, I spread on a 1/4 cup of low fat cheddar cheese blend.

Then I placed it all back in the oven and baked it until it was completely heated though and the cheese was melted. It turned out delicious. I was thrilled at how well it turned out and well definitely be thinking of new ways to use spaghetti squash.

So how did manage to do all this without it seeming like I was cooking two meals? Well...while the squash was baking I washed and prepared the spinach and got the garlic bread ready to bake. After the squash was done, I pulled it out of the oven and set it aside, then I got the pasta started. While the pasta cooked I prepared the squash to bake. Then into the oven it went along with the garlic bread. While the pasta, bread, and squash were finishing up I threw together a spinach side salad for Dork and Quirky. Yes, it took a few extra minutes to clean and prepare the squash to cook, but overall this was an easy carb friendly substitution to work into our family menu plans.