Thursday, April 9, 2009

Recipe for Fresh Italian - Style Spaghetti Squash

I was looking for a budget-friendly vegetable side dish to make today. I'm on Phase 1 of South Beach, and I tend to get very bored with the vegetable/protein thing. I'm hungry for pasta so I decided to give spaghetti squash another try.

Understand that I've tried spaghetti squash before and just was not impressed. No way was it even close to tasting like pasta. Just as that mashed cauliflower stuff that is supposed to replace mashed potatoes doesn't come anywhere near the flavor/texture profile of good mashed potatoes.

After my wine tasting in Charlotte last evening, I wheeled into Harris Teeter (one of our really nice grocery stores in Charlotte) and browsed the produce department, hoping to get some ideas. I picked up the spaghetti squash, found fresh tomatoes (reduced because they were a bit over-ripe) and grabbed the rest of the ingredients I usually put into good Italian tomato sauce. Here 's the result, and I've got to tell you that it is delicious! I think it is the fresh herbs that I used. They are expensive to buy in the produce department of grocery stores, so plant some in pots and put them outside your kitchen door so you can use them all spring, summer and fall. You'll be amazed at the difference fresh herbs make in your culinary creations!

Fresh Italian Spaghetti Squash

1 medium spaghetti squash
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 medium onion, chopped
1/2 medium green bell pepper, chopped
3 c. chopped tomatoes
Salt & Pepper to taste
Handful of mixed fresh herbs (I used basil, oregano, and chives)
Grated Parmesan or Romano cheese to taste

Wash squash; pierce several times with sharp knife and microwave on high power for 15 minutes or so until it's soft when you press on it. Remove from the oven to cool slightly. Cut squash in half and using a clean kitchen towel to protect your hand, hold the squash half. Using a spoon, scoop out seeds. Take a fork and pull the spaghetti-like strands of flesh away from the skin and into a bowl. Repeat with the other half and set aside.

Heat a large non-stick sauté pan over medium-high heat. Add 1-2 tsps. olive oil and add onion and green pepper. Season with salt and sauté until just getting tender. Add minced garlic and continue to sauté for about two minutes. Add tomatoes and stir until tomatoes are heated through. Empty bowl of squash into the pan with the vegetables and fold into mixture until everything is heated through. Taste for seasoning and add salt and pepper as needed.

Lastly, toss in fresh herbs and scatter shredded cheese over top. Serve and enjoy!

Bon Appétit!
Chef Debbie

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