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A neglected member of the winter squash family, the spaghetti squash is sometimes overlooked by the American cook. While the vegetarian conscientious crowd is well aware of it and suggests its use in many vegetarian recipes as an actual substitute for pasta, the bulk of shoppers are more wary. True, it can work as a pasta-like product, though it tastes nothing like it. When cooked the “meat” of the squash can be separated from the rind by scooping it with a fork, and it will fall away in spaghetti like strands. Really, it does not taste much like squash either, so its name is somewhat deceiving. There are some very good reasons to incorporate this food into your diet, so try to disassociate it from the ideas that come with the name and what they might evoke in you.
On the plus side this vegetable is enormously nutritious and low in calories or fat. According to the USDA Food and Nutrition Information Center website, it is rich in beta carotene, folate, calcium, potassium, Vitamin A and fiber. The squash is oblong, whitish to yellow-orange and its raw flesh looks similar to other winter squash. Its origins are unclear, but it is widely grown in China and used often in soup there.
This vegetable is great to use as a side dish and its lack of any inherently strong flavor lends itself to many variations on the theme and will keep it as a welcome addition to your options for side dishes. The following recipe is quick and easy once you have cooked the squash.
Spagetti Squash with Tomatoes and Onion
- Flesh from one spaghetti squash
- 1-15 ounce can stewed tomatoes
- ½ cup coarsely chopped onion (Here are some great onion choppers for you!)
- 1 clove chopped garlic (Here are some great garlic presses for you!)
- 2 Tablespoons butter
- ¼ teaspoon salt
- Spaghetti squash can be prepared through boiling, microwaving, baking or steaming. The least labor intensive way is pierce the squash, as you would a potato before baking, place it on a baking sheet in a 375 degree oven and bake for about one hour. This method also avoids the perilous struggle of cutting into a raw squash.
- Allow the squash to cool for about 20 minutes then cut in half and remove seeds from center. Scoop the remaining squash wall away from the rind and place in a quart and a half baking dish.
- Saute onion and garlic in butter in a skillet and add to the baking dish with the salt and stewed tomatoes. Bake until heated through in 325 degree oven for about 15 minutes.
*Speed Tip: While washing dishes the night before this meal: bake the squash and place in fridge overnight to be used quickly in the next day’s supper.
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