Ok, so as you may have read from my previous recipe posts... we are not eating carbs in our household... except one day a week when it is "allowed". here is two more weeks to this Slow-Cabr diet and then we as a family will revaluate how we want to proceed dietarily. We are definitely creating a lot of good new habits.
One of which is adjusting to not being able to have a favorite go to meal.. Pasta. Really pasta of any kind as I often use it as a base for any number of protein + veg + sauce toppings. That's really ok though, because we have a found a much healthier and very similar alternative.
Enter... Spaghetti Squash.
We have had Spaghetti.. the most common when you think of that.. you know, topped with Marinara Sauce, at least once a week for the past 4 weeks. Part of it because at a certain point we were craving something heartier than another salad topped with bell peppers and meat. So Spaghetti has been reinvented and is a renewed and much lower calorie and lower carb favorite.
The other great part about this recipe is that it is naturally gluten free, grain free and dairy free (so long as you don't top with parmigiano reggiano) and easily vegetarian!
Marinara Topped Spaghetti Squash
GlutenFree, Grain Free, Dairy Free and Vegetarian Optional
Servings 3-4 people
Pre Prep Time: 20 minutes
Cook Time: 45-55 minutes
Post Cooking Prep: 10-15 minutes
1 large or 2 small Spaghetti Squash (find in your fresh produce section of grocery store)
1 jar Marinara Sauce (I prefer Classico to any of the other brands)
1 can crushed or diced tomatoes
1 lb lean ground beef (93%/7%)
Half a package of Jimmy Dean Italian Sausage
Fresh Mushrooms to Sautee and add to sauce
2 tsp Basil
1 tsp Oregano
1 tsp Marjoram
1 tsp Parsley
1 tsp Garlic Powder
1 tsp Ground Black Pepper
1tsp garlic salt
Optional: 1/2 -1 tsp Red Pepper Flakes
1. Preheat Oven to 375 degrees and get out a large pyrex baking dish
2. Cut squash in half length wise. (This can be a bit intimidating if you've never done it, use a large Santoku or Butcher knife and start at the bottom of the squash. Keep your fingers away from the path of the knife. )
3. Spoon out seeds and squash "guts" then place squash cut side down in pyrex dish and pour in bottom of dish enough water to cover the entire base about 1/4 of an inch.
4. Place squash in oven on middle rack and set timer for 45 minutes.
Optional: Mushrooms- clean fresh mushrooms with a slightly dam paper towel to remove any dirt, slice in 1/8 slices, heat sauté pan with 2 tsp unsalted butter and 2 tsp olive oil til just bubbling. Add mushrooms and sauté on mid-high to high heat for 5-7 minutes until you start getting a nice caramelization on them. Then set aside in a small prep bowl.
5. Cook meat in large sauté pan. If doing the sausage as well cook that 1st and drain into a small colander to remove excess grease, then cook beef in same pan.
6. To ground beef add the spices listed above. If using a higher fat content like 85%/15% then drain beef as well. Once beef is cooked and in pan add any options to you made like mushrooms or sausage. Turn heat down to mid range.
7. Add jar of marinara sauce over meat and jar of Italian seasoned diced tomatoes. Stir to evenly distribute. (If you like a heavier sauce drain can of tomatoes a bit before pouring over, not a big deal if you don't though)
8. Turn heat to low and cover to let simmer. Stir occasionally.
9. When timer goes off for squash carefully pull out (remember there is hot water in the bottom of the pan) and using a fork flip squash over. Prick with fork: if squash still resists some then place back in oven another 10-15 minutes. Another way to check is to fork pull on the squash to pull up some of the strands and eat one.. if its still really crunchy, keep cooking, if its got a crunch but more like a nice al dente than cook another 5 minutes.. if its very slightly crunchy and soft and sweet then its ready!
10. Once squash is cooked pull out of oven and let sit 5-10 minutes to cool off. Then using a fork and a sppon gently fluff the squash ( it will naturally come out in spaghetti like strands) and place in a serving dish. The squash meat goes all the way to the skin so don't be chincy in collecting it. Use the spoon once you get to the edges to help if you need to. You should be left with just the hard inedible shells of the squash when finished.
11. Plate sqaush like pasta and cover with your already made marinara sauce! Enjoy!!
12. To make this vegetarian just skip the meat and instead saute dome diced bell peppers, mushrooms, onion, really any veggies of choice and pour marinara sauce over like you would meat!
This was a large spaghetti squash... I included my hand to give a size comparison.. sometimes they are about 1/2 to 2/3rd this size so depending on how many people you are cooking for, if they only have smaller ones at your grocer grab two!