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Saturday, May 4, 2013

Vegan, Pasta-Free, Skinny "Spaghetti" Dinner That Tastes Good!

Nothing can get me back into blogging better than a fridge full of groceries, a whole weekend for experimenting and some free time to play with my camera. To wit...I present:  Spaghetti Dinner?  Almost!  

This is a totally vegan, pasta-free, skinny spaghetti squash dinner that "eats" like a pasta dish.  My son who is now 13 has loved this since he was little.  It's one of his favorites.

It is easy to make, has great flavor, impressive nutritional numbers, and is heathy.

Because the squash has a slightly sweet flavor; I use Classico Tomato and Basil sauce (which has no sugar) as a base so the meal is not overly sweet. To that, I added peppers, onions, mushrooms, zucchini, garlic, and veggie meatballs. The "spaghetti" is spaghetti squash tossed with a little olive oil and parmesan cheese. That's it!  

You can modify any which way you like. Use real meatballs, or veggie crumbles, or ground turkey or beef (or none of the above.) Substitute any veggies you like for the ones I chose. Spinach, summer squash, tomatoes...anything you love will work in this. I have done several different variations and they all worked out just fine.

What you need:
  • spaghetti squash (I cook for just two so mine was just under a pound and a half which yielded 2 cups of squash.  For larger families, get the larger squash and adjust the recipe by increasing cooking time and cooking each half separately.)
  • jar of your favorite sauce (I used Classico Tomato Basil as it only has a few ingredients, no sugar and is only 45 calories per half cup
  • Veggie meatballs (I used Veggie Patch meatless fully cooked.)
  • veggies of your liking.  I used:
    • 1 cup sliced onions
    • 1 cup sliced red and green peppers
    • 1 cup mushrooms
    • 1 medium zucchini, sliced and halved
  • 1 tablespoon minced garlic (more if you love garlic)
  • 1 tablespoon coconut oil
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1/2 cup shredded parmesan cheese
  • 1/2 cup water

What you do:

Start by sauteing the vegetables and garlic in the coconut oil in a large sauce pan over medium heat until everything is translucent; about 10 minutes.  Add the sauce and simmer on low.  Add salt and pepper to taste; I never use either and it tastes great without it.  (Try it!)

Once that is started, cut the spaghetti squash in half lengthwise.  This is not easy to do.  It's a hard peel!  I got a cut started with a paring knife and then used my butcher's knife.  It took a little muscle to get it done.   

Clean out the seeds and fluffy stuff (stringy strands?  I don't know what you call it) from the inside of each half.

Now, some people swear by cooking this in the oven and many use the microwave by covering it with plastic wrap.  In my experience, the plastic wraps melts and that is mega unhealthy.  And I find no flavor difference, really, between the oven and the microwave.

In my method, you want one half to lay flat in a microwavable dish.  If it doesn't sit flat naturally, you can cut a little bit off the outside to make it sit flat.

Pour the water into the bottom half and put the other half on top like it is a lid.  Microwave for 10 minutes.

(While that is cooking, add the meatballs to your sauce.)

After the 10 minutes, you will know that the squash is done because the top half will no longer be hard.  Using oven mitts, gently press on both sides of the top half.  If it gives easily, the squash is done.  This is one of those things that once you do it, you'll know.

Using the oven mitt again, hold the squash on its side and scrape the insides (fluffing as you go) into a bowl.  The squash has a surprisingly spaghetti look to it.  Once you have scraped out both sides, add the olive oil and parmesan cheese and toss lightly.  

(Notice the color changes from bright yellow to a darker, translucent kind of color.  The texture should not be hard.  If it is, put it back in and microwave longer until the squash falls out easily when scraped.)

Place the spaghetti squash on the plate, place some sauce (which is pretty thick and chunky) on top with some meatballs (if you used them) and serve.  

Here's a fun tip:  Don't tell anyone what you are making in advance.  Just serve it and see what they think.  I bet they'll love it!

I'll catch you up on what's been going on tomorrow.  Lots..and it's all good!

I am eating well and working out because...I love how it feels!

1 comment:

  1. AnonymousMay 05, 2013

    You may want to change your title to "Vegetarian". Parmesan isn't vegan. Unless of course you used a vegan brand.


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