Friday, October 8, 2010

Spaghetti Squash Spaghetti

A couple weeks ago I posted about getting kids to eat vegetables.  By roasting or sautéing them, their natural flavors are developed in a way that is more acceptable to children than when they are boiled or steamed.  Another way to get kids to eat vegetables is by passing them off as something else that they like.

One of the easiest foods to “disguise” as something kids love is spaghetti squash.  Spaghetti squash is a winter squash that gets its name from the fact that its flesh can be scraped into long strings, resembling spaghetti.  It has a mild squash flavor that is undetectable when mixed with spaghetti sauce.  This is a great spaghetti substitute for people on a low-carb or gluten-free diet.

I really like spaghetti squash with marinara sauce.  My six-year-old, however, just can’t get past the idea that it isn’t real spaghetti (it has a slightly crispy texture).  My solution is to mix it with angel hair pasta.  When the two are mixed, my kids just can’t get enough of it.

Not only does mixing the squash with some pasta make it more palatable to my kids, but it also gets my starch and my vegetable in one dish.  Serve it with a meat sauce, and you have your protein too.

There are many ways to cook winter squash:  whole, halved, cut, boiled, roasted, microwaved.  For a few reasons, I prefer to microwave them whole.  First, they are really hard to cut when they are raw.  Second, microwaving is a lot faster and more energy-efficient than boiling or roasting.  Lastly, it doesn’t require the addition of any water or oil, making it a healthy option.

Spaghetti Squash Pasta
1 spaghetti squash (about 4 lb.)
½-¾ lb. angel hair pasta
3-4 c. spaghetti sauce
Parmesan cheese (optional)

Place squash in microwave-safe dish.  Generously pierce with fork or knife.  Microwave on high 5 minutes.  Turn squash over and microwave 5 more minutes.  Turn squash ¼ turn and microwave 5 additional minutes.  Check for doneness by piercing with fork or knife.  Skin should be soft and easily pierced.  If not, turn squash over and microwave 5 more minutes.  Let squash rest while pasta is boiled and sauce is heated.  Using caution as squash will be hot, transfer to cutting board.  Cut off stem end then cut in half lengthwise.  Discard seeds and membranes.  Using a fork, scrape flesh into spaghetti strands.  Toss squash with hot pasta and sauce.  Top with parmesan cheese.  Yield:  lots (one batch feeds five of us plus leftovers for lunch for all of us).  Total cost:  about $7.

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