FRESH Ideas for Pasta Alternatives
The jury is still out on the texture and flavor of many gluten-free and whole grain pastas, but one healthy alternative worth trying is spaghetti squash.
In its whole state the spaghetti squash looks similar to a small yellow football. When baked or microwave, all you need is a fork to release the angel hair-like strands from the squash's shell. One cup of cooked spaghetti squash strands weighs in at 42 calories.
To microwave, place the whole squash on a plate and cook for three minutes. This will soften the squash slightly so that it is easier to cut in half. Remove the squash, cut in half and scoop out the seeds and pumpkin-like guts. Return the halves to the microwave and cook for five minutes per pound or until a fork easily pulls through the squash forming strands.
In the oven the squash can take up to an hour and a half to cook whole or 30 to 45 minutes to cook in halves. Preheat oven to 375 degrees and pierce the skin of the squash with a sharp knife if cooking whole.
The spaghetti squash strands may not hold up to a heavy marinara, but with its natural buttery flavor simply needs a small amount of olive oil, salt and pepper, or a bit of pesto to enhance the flavor.
Roasted Spaghetti Squash with Garlic-Parsley Sauce
1 large spaghetti squash
1 tablespoon olive oil
2 tablespoons unsalted butter
2 shallots, diced small
2 garlic cloves, minced
1/4 cup chopped fresh parsley
2 tablespoons grated Parmesan
Coarse salt and ground pepper
Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Cut spaghetti squash in half and clean the seeds out with a spoon. Drizzle with the olive oil and rub with salt and pepper. Turn the squash halves flesh side up on a baking sheet and roast for 45 minutes or until the inside of the squash is tender. Allow to cool for 15 minutes. Using a fork, run the tines of the fork down the length of the squash flesh pulling out long strands of squash. Continue until all of the flesh is pulled out of the skin. Place the strands loosely in a bowl. In a large nonstick skillet, melt butter over medium heat. Add shallots and garlic and cook until softened. Add squash to the pan and toss to combine. Cook until warmed through. Stir in parsley and Parmesan and season with salt and pepper. Can be topped with grilled shrimp or chicken.
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