Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Spaghetti Squash with a semi-homemade meat sauce

Have you ever wondered how to incorporate more veggies into your diet or into your child's diet. If you're anything like me, you LOVE veggies (except onions. yuck). But if you are the type that has to cover them with ranch dressing or cheese, this recipe is for you. I would like to introduce you to my husbands version of Spaghetti with meat sauce.
 Ummm...excuse me Dani. But that's not spaghetti noodles. What is that?
That my friends is called Spaghetti Squash. Spaghetti Squash is not only a vegetable, but it's gluten free and incredibly healthy for you. Here are the nutritional facts for it.
Nutrition Facts

Spaghetti squash

Amount Per 1 cup, cubes (101 g)

Calories 31

  • % Daily Value*

    Total Fat 0.6 g0%
    Saturated fat 0.1 g0%
    Polyunsaturated fat 0.2 g
    Monounsaturated fat 0 g
    Cholesterol 0 mg0%
    Sodium 17 mg0%
    Potassium 109 mg3%
    Total Carbohydrate 7 g2%
    Dietary fiber 1.5 g6%
    Sugar 2.8 g
    Protein 0.6 g1%

    Vitamin A2%Vitamin C3%
    Vitamin D0%Vitamin B-65%
    Vitamin B-120%Magnesium3%
    *Percent Daily Values are based on a 2,000 calorie diet. Your daily values may be higher or lower depending on your calorie needs.
    You will find Spaghetti Squash in the same area of the grocery store as you would find other veggies. It's usually in the same section as the bell peppers and such. This is what it looks like.
    This kind of squash has a sweet taste to it (why your children will love it) and tends to absorb whatever you put it with. Almost like a mushroom. Mushrooms have no real taste on their own but once they are mixed with an ingredient, they tend to stand out more.
    I am going to show you the process in steps with pictures so hopefully that helps when you make it yourself. I am a see it, do it kind of person instead of a reading instructions kind of person. It really is simple and it takes a while to make but you don't have to do much. 85% of it is done in the oven so you can have play time and me time or wine time!

    Put the oven to 400* and get out a baking sheet. With the sharpest biggest knife you can find, cut the squash horizontal, cutting it in 2 on a cutting board. Just a word of warning, this kind of squash is HARD to cut. So either get a man (unless you are a man) or cut around it like you would a watermelon. It doesn't matter how you open it in 2, just get it there. Once you have cut it in 2, you will notice it has pumpkin like seeds. Go ahead and get those out of there and throw them away. You don't need or want them. Spray your pan with Pam or whatever cooking spray you like, and place the squash open side down, like in the picture below.

    Bake for 45 minutes and with a pot holder, take out. When you flip them over, they should look like the picture below. Leave the oven on 400* because this puppy is going to go back in there after the next step.

    Take the squash off the pan and re-spray your pan again with cooking spray. You can use a fork, but my husband LOVES to use an ice cream scooper. You literally just scoop out the middle part and replace it on the sprayed baking sheet, it will start to form and look like little spaghetti noodles.

    After you have scraped out both squash sides, throw them away. My husband likes to salt and pepper the squash before he puts it back in the oven. He never measures (sorry), just sprinkles along the top of it with both salt and pepper and then mixes it around so it goes all evenly. You can always add more if need be, so if you are afraid of putting to much, just put a little and then you can always add if you like.

    Back in oven it goes at the 400* you left it at. It goes back in for 20-30 minutes, tossing it every 10 minutes with a fork. After 20 minutes, you notice it start to brown, go ahead and take it out. But if not, leave it in for another 5-10 minutes, not to exceed 30 minutes.

    Once you put the squash back in the oven after scarping it all out, go ahead and get a stovetop pan out and turn the burner to medium and using your spatula, start to cook your meat. If you have a non-stick pan, great. If you don't, make sure your spray it with cooking spray or it will stick. You can use any meat you like. My husband likes to use ground turkey instead of beef but when we do use beef, we usually get 97% lean so it cuts out the fat and grease. It takes about 8-10 minutes for meat to be fully cooked, so once your meat has been cooked, that would be a great time to open the oven and using a pot holder and your fork, mix the squash around.

    Once your meat is cooked, add any canned tomato sauce you like to the pot. (for reference, we buy the small bottle (14oz) of Ragu traditional and use about 3/4 of the bottle. Since we like to add our own flavoring, we buy a blander sauce. You can use ANY sauce you like, especially if you don't want to add any seasonings). My husband likes to add about a tablespoon of squeeze garlic to up the flavor. He adds enough of the sauce to cover the whole meat up, almost like a stew. So whatever size bottle you purchase, keep that in mind.

    Turn the burner down to medium-low and once that has simmered for about 5- 8 minutes, (remember to stir a few times so it doesn't stick or burn) take it off the burner and turn the stovetop off. By the time you have completed your sauce, the squash should be about done. You should be at the 20 minute mark. Check your squash and if it looks like below, you are golden!

    Turn the oven off (my husband is notorious for forgetting to turn the oven off!) and before you begin plating, pull a little off and taste it. Make sure it is seasoned enough to your liking. After you have taste-tested it, begin plating. He usually serves me about a cup (again, we don't measure. He just fills about 1/3 of a regular size dinner plate up with the squash). I LOVE the meat sauce he makes so I usually get a lot of that. It usually covers my squash up, but for teaching purpose, he gave me what you should have.

    We always have a side with it, usually a salad. Bobby found this amazing gluten-free dressing in the refrigerated section at the grocery store. It comes in 4 flavors, Caesar, Ranch, Blue Cheese and Dill/Feta. We keep the Caesar stocked at home because we have a salad almost every night. Remind me to show the trick my husband learned about making a perfectly dressed salad!

    I am a cheese whore. Especially parmesan cheese. I put it on almost everything. So I sprinkled some on top of mine to give it that extra boost of flavor. My healthy husband does not.

    If I had to guess, you could get about 4 servings out of this dish. We always have leftovers so going based off that, 4 seems about right. With small children, possibly 5. You put enough of the sauce and some cheese and your children wont even know they aren't eating pasta. They will think its this sweet, melt in your mouth yummy dish and by the time they are done, they wont even realize they ate vegetables!

    Here are the ingredients you will need before hand. So go ahead and pull them all out so when you follow the steps from above, you are prepared.
    1- Spaghetti Squash
    1 pound of any kind of ground meat you would like
    1 can of any tomato sauce you like
    Baking Sheet
    Stovetop Pan (nonstick if you have)
    Cooking Spray
    Either a fork or an ice cream scooper
    Pot holder
    Cutting Board
    Large, Sharp Knife
    Salt and Pepper (optional)
    Squeeze garlic (optional)

    A really yummy wine you could pair with this dish would be a lovely Syrah because they tend to have a sweet/savory taste to them. They tend to have a blackberry, plum, peppery taste. If you are a white fan, I would pair it with a French Chablis. A Chablis is a Chardonnay grape, just produced in France. They tend to be a little lighter than a California style with more of a minerality to it. They tend to be crisp and clean and would compliment the sweetness of the squash and the boldness of the sauce. If you live in Texas, there should be a Spec's close by. Head on over and ask one of the wine specialist for a lovely recommendation on either a Californian Syrah or a lovely French Chablis!