Spaghetti Squash in Veggie Sauce
Spokane did a nasty thing and tricked me yesterday.
I woke up early Sunday morning to head to work. The sky was cloudy and I ignored its moodiness as I ate my breakfast of Special K chocolatey delight cereal (I took too long getting out of bed to make oatmeal, which is always a sad day, but that's what I get for lounging). When I stepped out of my apartment, I was immediately hit with a nostalgic smell.
You know those smells, don't you? The ones that tickle your mind because you recognize them and they remind you of very specific memories, but you can't recall right away what the smell is of.
I sniffed around and probably looked a little strange doing so, but memories of cherry blossom trees and tulips and going on walks by the river and hunting for Easter eggs were filtering through my brain, and suddenly it hit me: it was SPRING I was smelling.
But this was a strange smell to smell, considering that it was barely 33°, there was two feet of snow on the ground, and I was scraping ice off of my car windshield. I surmised that the smell must be coming from the fact that it was raining lightly, which was a welcome difference from the deluge of snow we've been getting for what feels like forever. It made me really excited for spring though, even if that means getting soaked in a little bit of rain now and again. A couple drops of rain are a small price to pay for the return of green grass, bright tulips, rainbows, spring fruits and veggies, and warmer temperatures!
Sadly, Spokane changed its mind and remembered that it's still technically winter, and the rain died just after noon and became big, chunky flakes of snow that continued until after it was dark and I had closed my blinds on Spokane being mean and teasing me with smells and memories of spring.
Since it's still winter and we can't seem to escape from that fact quite yet, I've decided to revel in something beautiful that winter does give us: spaghetti squash.
Heather, amongst others, had been touting the positives of spaghetti squash for a long time before I actually gave it a try. I tend to be a little stubborn, and pasta is my favorite in the world. So when people said things like "It tastes just like pasta!" or, God forbid, "It tastes better than pasta!" I wanted to smack them with an uncooked fettuccine noodle and tell them not to blaspheme.
Then last December, I finally gave in and tried spaghetti squash at a restaurant called The Blackbird here in Spokane. It was roasted and served with brown butter, spicy tomato sauce, parmesan cheese, and salmon, and it was absolutely delicious.
After that, I just had to try making it for myself. I wanted to indulge in the winter wonderland that is spaghetti squash. So I did; while I was home in Colorado for Christmas, I recipe-tested and came up with Spaghetti Squash in Veggie Sauce.
If you want to see an excellent demo for how to cook spaghetti squash, Chungah at Damn Delicious has one that helped me a great deal when I was developing this recipe. She also has a beautiful video, for those of us who are visual learners (hear hear!).
While I have come to admire spaghetti squash's lovely nature, gorgeous flavor, and tantalizing possibilities, I feel it is important to mention that I still disagree with claims that "it tastes just like pasta." I think it has a different flavor and texture, and comparing it to pasta is unfair to the potential of them both. I would also like it made clear that pasta is still king; nothing can replace the special shrine in my heart I have reserved for all things al dente.
With that being said, I've found myself returning to this Spaghetti Squash in Veggie Sauce recipe time and time again during these chilly winter months. Not only is it warm, filling, and easy to make, but it's also healthy! After all, it's basically one big, tasty party of veggies. :)
Spaghetti Squash in Veggie Sauce
Makes: 3 servings
Takes: 50 minutes
- 1 spaghetti squash
- Olive oil
- Black pepper
- 1 jar spaghetti sauce
- 1 tsp. dried oregano
- 1/2 tsp. crushed red hot chili pepper flakes
- 1 handful fresh basil, or 1 tsp. dried basil
- 1/2 bell pepper + 1/2 bell pepper, two different colors
- 3/4 small onion
- 10-12 cherry tomatoes
- 2 cloves garlic
- 2 small handfuls of spinach
- Preheat oven to 400°F.
- Wash spaghetti squash, and then microwave for 5 minutes.
- Cut squash in half lengthwise (hot-dog style, if we were elementary schoolers folding paper). Scoop out seeds with a spoon. Sprinkle olive oil, salt, and pepper on the inside to enhance flavor.
- Place squash on a lightly greased baking sheet, sliced-side down. Cook in oven for 35-40 minutes.
- While squash is cooking, make vegetable sauce. Pour spaghetti sauce into a pot on the stove. Sprinkle in dried oregano, crushed red hot chili pepper flakes, and fresh or dried basil, and salt and pepper to taste. Turn onto low heat and gradually warm, stirring occasionally. Note: Don't heat too fast, or you could burn the bottom of your sauce. Plus, the flavors are more dramatic when they are drawn out slowly.
- Wash and dice bell pepper halves. Dice onion. Mince garlic cloves.
- Pour 1 Tbsp. olive oil into a skillet and roll to spread around. Sauté bell peppers, onion, and cherry tomatoes on medium heat for about 5 minutes, or until onion turns translucent. Note: Veggies should be cooked, but still have some crunch.
- Add garlic and spinach to skillet and cook until spinach wilts and garlic becomes fragrant, about 3 minutes.
- Pour the veggies into the spaghetti sauce in the pot and stir in.
- When the squash is done, remove it from the oven and use tongs to flip it over. Pull two forks in opposite directions to dislodge the spaghetti strands from the squash. Note: If you prefer, you can let the squash cool slightly for two minutes after it comes out of the oven, so that you can handle it easier.
- Place spaghetti strands into a bowl, and pour veggie sauce over them. Mix sauce in, sprinkle with parmesan cheese if desired, and serve!
Portion of recipe about cooking spaghetti squash was adapted from recipe by Damn Delicious.