Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Spaghetti Squash: An Aptly Named Alternative

Spaghetti Squash

This is one of my favorite foods to prepare for other people (I've featured it during most of the retreats I have cooked for). It's often something new, its flavor is very likeable: sweet, crunchy and light, and it is a stellar alternative to pasta for anyone looking to cut back on gluten or processed foods.

In addition to being delicious, it's also got some nutritious tagged on to boot. One cup of cooked spaghetti squash only has about 42 calories and is low glycemic load, meaning it won't spike your blood sugar.

It is also a very good source of dietary fiber and Vitamin C, along with Niacin, Vitamin B6, Potassium and Manganese. (Read more on its nutrition.)

The best part is how simple it is to prepare:

I usually (very carefully!) hack it in half on a cutting board with a large chefs knife (though this takes some arm muscle and you CAN bake it whole, it just takes a bit longer) – if you get struck on the stem, you can cut into the flesh in order to cut it off.

Place it cut side down in a baking pan with about ½ inch of water. Bake in a 357F preheated oven for 20-30 minutes or until “fork soft” (a fork slides into it easily).

If baking the squash whole, make sure to poke holes in it with a fork before baking for about 1 hour or until fork soft. Water in the baking pan is unnecessary.

When finished baking, carefully flip the squash over and allow to cool for about 15 minutes. Using a fork, scrape out the “spaghetti” strands and serve.

Spaghetti squash is great with a traditional tomato or marinara sauce, butter and herbs, olives, roasted peppers, or I love to serve it with a Mediterranean chickpea stew with spices and tomatoes.

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