Tuesday, January 22, 2013

Creamy Spaghetti Squash with Fresh Tomato Sauce

Perfect Pairing:  Pasta Craving… on a diet

Sometimes diet food just tastes so…. diet-y.  I remember years ago a friend of mine was on the Atkins Diet, and was raving about the dessert she had just made.  I think it was a combination of ricotta cheese, artificial sweetener, and cocoa powder.  I have to say, I was not impressed.   It tasted like ricotta cheese, artificial sweetener, and cocoa powder.  I love my friend, but I think her taste buds were a bit warped by that point.
Trust me when I say that this meal does not taste diet-y at all!  It is truly scrumptious.  What puts it over the top is that it is so good for you, and low in fat and calories.  One serving (1/3 of the recipe, which is a big serving) is under 225 calories and 8 grams of fat, and also includes lots of fiber. 
This is the perfect dish for a pasta or Italian food craving when you are watching the waistline.  Another great substitute is this pizza recipe.  It is hard to find many Italian meals with those kinds of stats.
If you have never used spaghetti squash before it might be a little intimidating, but it really is simple to prepare.  The hardest part is cutting it open.  If you are really struggling with cutting it you can poke it a few times, microwave for a couple of minutes, and then try cutting it.  You can roast, boil, or steam spaghetti squash.  I always choose to steam it in the microwave in a shallow dish with a little water.  When it is cooked through it is super simple (and oddly satisfying) to shred with a fork.  It is really hot when it comes out of the microwave so I usually hold on to it with a clean towel and shred it into a bowl. 
To the squash I added freshly grated parmesan cheese and a dollop of reduced fat spreadable garlic and herb cheese (like Boursin, Rondele, or Aloutte).  If you want to cut the stats on this meal even further you can leave out the cheese, but I think it really adds a lot of flavor and texture to the squash without adding too much fat and calories. 
Creamy Spaghetti Squash with Fresh Tomato Sauce
Lindsay at Perfecting the Pairing

·         1 tsp olive oil
·         3 shallots, chopped
·         3 garlic cloves, chopped
·         2 pints grape tomatoes, halved
·         1 spaghetti squash
·         ¼ cup water
·         ¼ cup freshly grated parmesan cheese
·         ¼ cup spreadable, reduced fat, garlic and herb cheese
·         Salt and pepper, to taste
·         Pinch of red pepper flakes
·         8 basil leaves, thinly sliced
Heat the olive oil over medium-low heat in a large skillet.  Add the chopped shallot and garlic to the pan, sauté until the shallots start to soften, about 3 minutes.  Add the halved grape tomatoes to the pan, stir well, and sauté until the tomatoes start to break down, about 15 – 20 minutes.
Meanwhile, slice the spaghetti squash in half, lengthwise, and scoop out the seeds.  Place the squash cut side up in a shallow dish.  Add the ¼ cup water to the bottom of the dish and cover tightly with plastic wrap.  Microwave on high for 15 – 20 minutes, until the inside of the squash is soft.  Carefully remove the plastic wrap (there will be a lot of steam).  Scrape the strands of squash into a bowl.  Add the parmesan cheese and spreadable to cheese to the bowl and stir to combine.  Season with salt and pepper.
Once the tomatoes have cooked down, season them with salt, pepper, and red pepper flakes, to taste.  To serve, top the squash with tomatoes and a sprinkle of basil. 

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