So I have one favorite go to dish. I don't know that its necessarily the rest of my family's favorite.. but it is most definitely mine! There is just one problem. Its pasta!
But not just any pasta, its spaghetti (sometimes linguini) with bacon and normally spinach and whatever else I feel like throwing in. But the base is just that, simple, delicious and bacony!
We call it "Aunt Laurie's Recipe" at our house because well, the 1st time we ever had it was quite a few years ago now when we were visiting my cousins and Uncle and, you guessed it, Aunt Laurie. Its been a staple go to on those don't know what to make nights ever since! or on my birthday. Like I said, its my favorite.
So what with us trying to make healthier choices and cutting a lot of the carbs we were eating out of our diet I decided to try my favorite recipe using spaghetti squash. And replacing spinach with some fresh raindbow swiss chard and adding a few pieces of chicken. I am so glad I did!
Because it is the same delicious meal but with oh sooooo many fewer calories so that the bacon part.. almost feels guilt free!
Here is what you'll need:
Spaghetti Squash, A leafy green (recommened: spinach or fresh swiss chard), bacon (I used the precooked to save time) and 2 medium chicken breasts.
1. Preheat oven to 375-400 depending on how quickly you want the squash to cook. I did 375. Cut your Spaghetti Squash in half and scoop out the guts. Place cut side down in a pyrex baking dish and add 1/4 inch water to bottom of dish. Pop it in the oven for 50 minutes (if 375) 30-45 (if 400) or until done.
2. Prep your greens! If using spinach you can use frozen but I try to use fresh whenever I can. I always wash my greens even when they say prewashed. But especially using swiss chard, you WANT to WASH those leaves because they've been growing up, from under the ground, and they have dirt and grit on them. These were organic so I wasn't so worried about any kind of pesticides.
Best way to wash them is cut those stems out. (DON'T throw the stems away!)
And place in a large bowl, fill with cold water.
Then swish em around in the bowl and let them sit for 10 minutes.. with occasional gentle swishing!
Now, a quick not on those pretty colorful stalks! Don't toss them! They are just as good as the leafy green and go GREAT in stirfry! Just dice them up and toss them in an asian stir fry! Now you know what you'e makin for the dinner after this one!
And cut up that Bacon! Try not to eat all of it in the process! ;)
Throw that bacon in for a few minutes just to heat up and leave a little flavor for the greens, then set aside and toss the greens in the same saute pan. I rip them up into bite size pieces 1st. Those will cook down quickly. About 3-4 minutes over medium heat while gently tossing with a pair of tongs!
(I forgot to grab a picture of that but as you can see I diced the chicken up and that swiss chard cooked down, a LOT)
Once your squash is ready, fork those "pasta" strands up and into a serving dish!
Add just enough EVOO to coat the squash, salt & pepper to taste and some REAL parmesan cheese! We don't use Spaghetti Sugar (thats what I called it when I was 3) that powdered parmesan stuff because it doesn't melt into dishes the way grated parm does!
Then plate your meal.. pasta on bottom, swiss chard, chicken and the BACON!
And voila! A healthy, filling and oh so delicious meal!
Spaghetti Squash with Bacon and Swiss Chard
Prep Time: 20-30 minutes
Cook Time: 45 min to an Hour
Spaghetti Squash (1 large or 2 small ones)
1 package of Bacon (save some time and use the Oscar Meyer precooked!)
2-3 medium chicken breasts
1 bunch of Swiss Chard (alternate: 1 bag fresh baby spinach or 1 bag frozen leaf spinach)
Preheat oven to 375/400
1. Cut open squash and scoop out guts. Place cut side down in pyrex baking dish and add 1/4 inch water to bottom of dish. Bake in oven 40 minutes to 1 hour.
Give it about 15-20 minutes before you proceed with the nest steps so by the time you finish Squash will be cooked and everything can be plated hot!
2. De stalk Swiss Chard and place in large bowl. Add cold water and 1 tsp baking soda. Swish around and let soak 5-10 minutes. Then pull out and drain. Tear into bite size pieces... about 2x3 inches.
3. Cook Chicken lightly season with salt, pepper and any other flavors you like! I just threw on a bit of Mrs. Dash Garlic and Herb.
4. If using raw bacon.. cook it, drain and let cool enough to handle. Then chop up bacon into small pieces.
5. Once chicken is cooked, set aside to cool before dicing up. Throw bacon into pan to heat up. About 3 minutes. Then place aside.
6. With heat on medium put Swiss Chard in same saute pan that meat was cooked in. Season with salt and pepper and wilt down. Toss frequently 3-4 minutes until cooked down. Turn heat off.
7. Pull Squash out of the oven. Should be done- flip over to be cut side up and pull a fork across the squash flesh. It is gives and fluffs up in strands its ready! We like ours a little "Al dente" or in squash lingo.. with a bit of crunch still left in it! Fork out "spaghetti" into a serving dish.
8. Plate and serve! Yum!
Like I said, I love this dish! And using the squash it makes it so much lighter and Its so simple and yummy and it makes an awesome base for sooo many different options! Don't have chicken? Use shrimp! Want to change the flavor palette a bit? Add some Alfredo sauce- we like Classico! Or toss some aged balsamic vinegar in with the EVOO to coat the pasta... just go easy and add according to taste on the Balsamic! Add some other veggies like peppers, onions, brussel sprouts.. the possibilities are endless with this as a starter base!
I hope you enjoy as much as we do whether you try it with the Spaghetti Squash or use the real thing! :)