Spaghetti squash
#100daysofcooking, Recipes

Day 49: Use your noodle when craving spaghetti


Turkey Bolognese with Spaghetti Squash


If you have children, chances are you’ve got a photo of your happy toddler covered in spaghetti and sauce. If you don’t have children, your mom has that photo and you’ll be seeing it on your wedding day.

Pretty much from the get-go, we are programmed to love spaghetti. Vegetables, not so much.

But then you grow up, and you start counting calories and monitoring carbohydrates and watching your waistline. And the glory of pasta is reserved for special occasions.

Enter the spaghetti squash, from the heartily unloved winter squash family. It has one-fifth of spaghetti’s calories, one-quarter of the carbs, up to triple the vitamin count, it is a genius carrier for sauces and it tastes like spaghetti. It really does.

Spaghetti squash
Spaghetti squash

Plus, thanks to a tip from New York-based chef Rocco DiSpirito, you can cook it in 10 minutes. Just like fast food.

Just. Like. Pasta.

I assumed that the spaghetti squash that we bought before Christmas was edging past its due date, so it was my Kitchen Castoff for the day (under the “Perishing Perishables” category.) But winter squash, just like we northern Canadians, are tough buggers. It probably had another month or two left in it.

Think about all that. Spaghetti squash is a vegetable that resembles your favourite thing from childhood, is easy to cook and you get all that self-satisfaction to boot.

Sometimes, I’ll serve spaghetti squash as a side dish with just butter, garlic, oregano, salt and pepper. It is quite decadently delicious. Or sometimes we will top it with some store-bought marinara sauce, which is equally easy and good. Today, though, I put a little more effort into things, making a turkey Bolognese using a Martha Stewart recipe. The spaghetti shop prep comes from DiSpirito’s 2012 cookbook Now Eat This! Italian.

Kitchen Castoff used

Spaghetti squash

Turkey Bolognese with Spaghetti Squash
Turkey Bolognese with Spaghetti Squash

This is how we did it

Ingredients

  • 3 slices bacon, cut into small chunks
  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 medium onion, diced
  • 1 carrot, diced
  • 2 celery stalks, diced
  • 3 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 lb ground turkey
  • 2 cups (28 oz) crushed tomatoes
  • Red-pepper flakes (optional)
  • Coarse salt and ground pepper
  • 1 tbsp tomato paste
  • 4 tbsp parmesan cheese, plus extra for garnish
  • 1 spaghetti squash
  • butter, garlic, salt and pepper

Method

For the sauce

In a large skillet, cook bacon over medium until crisp, then use a slotted spoon to transfer to paper towels. Add 1 tbsp oil, then cook the onion, carrot, celery, and garlic until vegetables are tender, about 15 minutes. Set aside.

Add 1 tbsp oil and the turkey. Cook, breaking up until for about 5 to 8 minutes, until mostly cooked through. Add bacon, vegetables, tomatoes, tomato paste and pinch of red-pepper flakes, if using, and bring to a simmer. Cook until sauce is thickened, about 5 minutes. Stir in the parmesan cheese. Season with salt and pepper. Serve over cooked spaghetti squash noodles and sprinkle with more parmesan.

For the spaghetti squash

Cook in the microwave oven, then quickly create "spaghetti" strands with a fork.
Cook in the microwave oven, then quickly create “spaghetti” strands with a fork.

Slice the spaghetti squash lengthwise, scoop out the seeds and stringy bits.Put a couple tablespoons of water in one of the halves, then put the two halves back together and wrap them in plastic wrap. Microwave for 10 minutes.

The squash will be really hot when you take it out of the microwave. I use oven mitts. When you peel the plastic wrap, it will also release a lot of hot steam so be careful.

Melt about 1 tbsp butter into a skillet. If you like, throw a bit of garlic in there.

Use a fork to shred the squash “strands” then put the strands into the skillet with the butter. Mix together, and season with salt and pepper.


Curious about my “Kitchen Castoffs” concept? Here’s the explainer describing my 100-day project.

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