Monday, March 22, 2010

Spaghetti Squash Pasta

My favorite part of the market is the produce section! I just LOVE all the wonderful varieties of fruits and veggies.... especially now that my local grocery has an awesome ORGANIC section! I have to admit, there are still a lot of veggies that I have not had the guts to try yet. For example this one squash. I always just walk past this gourd-like vegetable with a tough, hard shell. Well, once I stopped and picked up one just to look at it and feel it. I heard spaghetti squash was really tasty.... but I just thought it was too much work. I was under the impression that I had to use a hammer and chisel to break thru that hard skin and then, I had to try and peel it and then julienne it to make the spaghetti strips! LOL!!! Little did I know that preparing this jewel was much easier than I anticipated.

Vegetable spaghetti, vegetable marrow, spaghetti squash, noodle squash, and squaghetti. All are name for a variety of squash or marrow (Cucurbita pepo) that looks like a small yellow watermelon, with flesh composed of long thin spaghetti-like strings. It averages 9 inches in length and may weigh 2 to 3 pounds. When cooked, the crisp, tender, spaghetti-like strands yield a mild lightly sweet and fresh taste. Keep in mind that the larger the vegetable, the thicker the strands and the more flavorful the taste.

I decided to pick up a squash this past weekend and "tackle" the preparation. I went online and found a great video that explains what to do with squash. I was happily surprised to see that after it is cooked.... the squash meat IS the spaghetti! Who knew? Certainly not me. LOL! I had so much fun making up this delicious pasta dish and the spaghetti squash really adds flavor, interest, and great texture. You can make it with your favorite veggies... and for you vegetarians... topping it off with your favorite shredded cheese would be delicious!

For this dish, I chose brocolini (baby broccoli,) orange bells, the spaghetti squash, TONS of garlic, spices and I tossed in some peas and carrots I had left over in the frig. And for my dish, I topped it off with chopped, fresh organic mango & served it up with some of my delicious oven roasted asparagus spears. Mmm Mmm Good!!! This turned out to be a beautiful dish in its presentation and so flavorful. You have the sharp spiciness of the garlic, the uniqueness of each spice and the sweetness from the mango. Really makes a nice combo.

If you’ve been reading my recipe blogs for awhile, you will remember how I feel about cooking the life outta vegetables. And SO many cooks do just that. They boil the color, the nutrients, the texture... literally.... the life outta the veggies. Personally, I never boil my veggies. I either steam them for a short 2 to 5 minutes depending on the veggie or oven roast them for a very short time. I like my veggies brilliantly bright with color, extra crispy and full of nutrients.

Ok, let's get started! And as always....... I DO ORGANIC as much as possible.

This is what you'll need:

About 3 cups of uncooked curly pasta. I used brown rice curly pasta for this dish, but you can use any kind.
1 large spaghetti squash
1/2 large orange bell, sliced in one inch slices
1 small bunch of brocolini, chopped one inch pieces
TONS of garlic
Pinch of fresh chopped rosemary, thyme and nutmeg
Chopped fresh mango
Extra Virgin Olive Oil
1 Large bunch of asparagus

Wash the squash and dry. Place in microwave oven on medium for 2 minutes, This will soften the shell so you can slice it open. Remove from microwave and place on wet cloth. This will secure the squash and make if safer when slicing it open with your BIG, sharp knife. Just slice it lengthwise. Then take a large spoon and scoop out the pulp and seeds. Place each half in a baking dish, sprinkle a little olive oil and black pepper over each half. Bake in 400 degree oven for 45 minutes. The squash is done when the shell is slightly soft and there is a little brown crust on top. When the squash has cooled, take a fork and begin pulling the pulp. You can see how it comes out like spaghetti! That is just the coolest thing ever!

Ok, now while the squash is baking for those 45 minutes, you can cook the pasta and set aside.

In a large sauté skillet, add some olive oil and TONS of pressed garlic. I used 4 to 5 cloves. Sauté over medium heat, but don't burn it. Add the brocolini & the orange bell and sauté just a minute or so. Then add one half of the squash and the pasta. Carefully toss till everything is coated with oil and now sprinkle the spices on top and gently toss again. Turn heat down to low, place lid on skillet and allow to steam for about one minute till hot.

Now, take the asparagus, cut off the ends, wash it and dry each piece as the olive oil will not work with wet asparagus. Place asparagus, single layer, in cookie sheet. Brush each one with either olive oil or garlic olive oil or basil olive oil, or roasted red pepper olive oil. Place in 400 degree oven for 3 to 4 minutes and it is ready! Look at that gorgeous brilliant bright green color!

Dish up a nice serving of pasta, top it off with the chopped mango and serve it up with your roasted asparagus. WOW!! Beautiful and deliciously healthy!

Until Next Time....


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