Recipe Source: McConnell, Shelli and Maggie Meyer. "Delicious Every Day." Better Homes and Gardens January 2013 p. 74. I tried to link to the original, which is available at the Better Homes and Gardens website, but was unable to do so for some reason.
Spaghetti squash is one of those things I always looked at a little funny. My initial experiences with it were from some of the "low carb" or "raw" zealots who saw it as a great way to "trick" people into eating squash instead of pasta. This seems a little strange to me. First of all, spaghetti squash doesn't resemble spaghetti until it's cooked. That makes it inherently not "raw," doesn't it? Maybe I'm just missing the point. And even when it is cooked, okay, fine, it looks like little strings. It still doesn't look like spaghetti, or angel hair, or like any other kind of pasta unless one really suspends one's disbelief. I'd have to suspend my disbelief a lot more than I think the average person is willing to suspend before I'd be willing to believe that the squash is pasta. And it doesn't taste like pasta. It doesn't have the mouth feel of pasta. You'd really have to bolt that stuff down before you could believe that stuff was pasta - so quickly, in fact, that you could neither taste nor feel it.
So I guess it kind of bothered me for a while. Then last November I actually tried the stuff and it's not that bad. For squash it's pretty darned good actually. It doesn't have that repulsive sweetness that a lot of winter squash has, the kind that makes me so reluctant to use it. While I'm not so keen on pretending that it's pasta it does convey sauces well, so I might just use it in ways that are similar to noodles. This especially makes sense since so many of my friends have eschewed the use of cereal grains or gluten for one reason or another.
This recipe, for example, really seemed to reach out to me. The original called for a mixture of spaghetti squash and whole-wheat spaghetti. I was unwilling to buy a box of spaghetti for a measly four ounces and have the rest lying around to attract mice and grain moths, the two banes of my existence these days. Furthermore, my daughter and husband's carb-loving selves would not be satisfied with so little starch. I omitted the spaghetti and used all squash, serving the mixture with millet (my daughter's favorite). I increased the amount of garlic because no recipe intended for mass consumption ever calls for enough garlic. Instead of pimento-stuffed olives, which have a higher calling in martinis, I used a mix of Greek olives with chiles. This gave my sauce an extra kick, but not so much of a kick that my daughter wouldn't eat it. I added a bit of dried basil and oregano to the mix - the original called for some fresh basil but it's January. If I can get fresh basil I probably don't want it. I omitted the raisins, because that just seemed kind of icky to me. To each their own - if you find the tomatoes to be too acidic for your tastes you can add them, although I think you'd be better served by chucking a bay leaf into the pan. Finally I substituted fresh goat cheese for the feta in the original. I'd gotten some at a very good price from my big-box membership warehouse and it was a lot less salty than feta. (We love feta, but we were still trying to reduce that sort of thing after the holidays.)
The results were fantastic, if I do say so myself. No one seemed to notice that the meal was meatless. My daughter is going through a phase where she has a hard time focusing on dinner, and it was much less difficult to get her to eat once we got her to sit down. It was light, but it was delicious and satisfying. I highly recommend that you try this. If you're not a fan of goat cheese - and you know who you are - try this with a sheep's milk feta like the original requests, or maybe with a bit of a nice sharp New York Cheddar.
Spaghetti Squash with Tomatoes and Olives (serves 4; approx. $3.33/serving)
1 spaghetti squash, halved lengthwise
6 garlic cloves, crushed
1 jar tomatoes (minimum 28 ounces). Do not drain the tomatoes.
1 cup mixed Greek olives with chiles
1 teaspoon dried basil
1 tablespoon dried oregano
2 ounces crumbled fresh goat cheese
- Baking sheet
- Oven mitt or glove
- Preheat your oven to 375︒.
- Roast your squash halves with the cut side up (rind down) for 45 minutes.
- Meanwhile, combine the remaining ingredients (except the cheese) in the saucepan and bring to a boil.
- Reduce heat to a simmer.
- When the squash halves are done roasting, let them cool for about five minutes. You might want to turn off the oven.
- Holding the squash half in a gloved hand (it is still quite hot, and you don't want to touch the hot thing) score the flesh of the squash with the fork. It will fall apart in stringy strands. Put them in your serving bowl.
- Pour the sauce over the squash. Scatter the cheese over the top and serve.
- Note: You can prepare the recipe up to step seven ahead of time. Reheat with a little water, bring to a boil, turn out into the serving vessel and scatter the cheese as directed.