Lately, I’ve been trying to avoid gluten as much as I can. Although I know it isn’t inherently unhealthy, I sometimes get the sneaking suspicion that I might have a sensitivity to it, as I often feel bloated and sluggish after consuming it. Cutting it out is nearly impossible when you spend as much of your time baking for people as I do, but I try to come up with alternatives when I cook for myself.
My latest addiction has been nature’s version of pasta: the shockingly tasty, insanely low-calorie spaghetti squash. The fact that it’s not only gluten free, but also only 30 calories a cup (compared to the 400 calories in its processed counterpart) makes it the holy grail of healthy carbs for me; I have trouble believing I’m actually eating vegetables and not pasta. I’ve dressed it up a number of ways–including pesto, curry, cauliflower alfredo, and marinara, which I’ll be sharing with you guys in the future–but have found that it’s delicious even with just a little bit of olive oil or Earth Balance and salt.
The first time I made spaghetti squash, I was in awe at the way the flesh naturally comes out in the form of spaghetti strands–no work required. All you have to do is bake it, scoop it out of the shell, and put your favorite sauce on it!
- 1/2 spaghetti squash
- 1 yellow onion, chopped
- 1 large eggplant, chopped
- 1 large zucchini, chopped
- About 10 cremini or baby bella mushrooms, chopped
- 2-3 garlic cloves, minced
- 2 cans of diced roasted tomatoes, with garlic or other herbs for extra flavor
- 2 pinches red pepper flakes
- 2 pinches of basil powder, or 3-5 fresh leaves; oregano; or thyme
- Salt and pepper
1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees F. Cut your spaghetti squash in half. If you’re on the not-so-strong side of the spectrum like I am, you may want to microwave it for about a minute to soften it up. I stuck a cleaver into the side of the spaghetti squash, turned it upside down so the knife was supported by the table, and used the squash’s own weight to hit it down onto the cleaver until it split. Whatever strategy you use, be careful not to cut yourself!
2. Clean out the seeds and slimy strings from the squash using a spoon. If you’ve ever carved a pumpkin on Halloween, you probably have experience with this! Scrape away until the bright orange part is gone, and only the uniform yellow flesh remains. (Refer to 2 photos above for what they look like once mostly cleaned.)
3. Lay one side onto a pan rind-down, brush the flesh with olive oil, and sprinkle it with salt and pepper. If only making one half, wrap and store the unused half in the fridge. Bake in oven for about 35 minutes, or until tender, which can be tested by sticking a fork into the flesh.
4. Make the sauce: combine eggplant, zucchini, mushroom, onion, garlic in a pot over medium heat, season with salt, and saute until they shrink and start to become tender. (You can use oil if you want, but I prefer to dry-saute.) Add tomatoes and spices, and simmer until the vegetables are tender and cooked through. Salt and pepper to taste.
5. Remove spaghetti squash from oven, and cool slightly, or until you can handle it without burning yourself. Using a fork, scrape the flesh from stem to bottom and place the resulting strings in a bowl; it should fall into strands with very little pressure. If you get any resistance, the squash needs to be cooked more.
6. Top the “spaghetti” with as much sauce as you want, and enjoy!