Saturday, June 2, 2012

Twice Baked Spaghetti Squash


The beginning of June means it's Mr. Max's CFA time again. I'm so proud of him for all the hard work and dedication he puts into studying and preparing for this exam, it's truly beyond what I would be able to do. As I sit her recapping last night's dinner, he has just started the 6 hour test - wow. This year, he requested chicken parm again for his "last supper" - our affectionate term for his dinner the night before this test - but I decided to revamp just a bit. While I still made him some chicken parm, this featured recipe was the star of the night.

I started to think this up a few weeks ago when we did a very simple turkey meatball dish with spaghetti squash. We typically grab a spaghetti squash each grocery run to make once a week on the busiest night in our schedule. However, this time we made it on a Sunday and I had time on my hands so I had decided to roast it in the oven rather than nuke it. This takes quadruple the amount of time, but the result was worth it. Like spinach, spaghetti squash will emit liquids as it heats and cooks. This can sometimes make for a watery dish when combined with sauce, but when I roasted it, I did not seem to have this problem as much. I already knew that roasting will seal in and lock the nutrients of any vegetable, but the watery consistency was greatly decreased with this method as well. After scraping the spaghetti strands from each half, I looked at the hollowed out shells and I thought about twice baked potatoes. I had other plans for that dinner, so I decided to remake this again in the near future, creating a tasty filling with the strands, then re-baking in the shells.

That brings us to this recipe! I wanted to make the red sauce a little creamy and add thickness, just to help with some of the natural moisture that is inevitable with the spaghetti squash. I had some Neuftchatel cheese in the fridge and used it to help make a thicker, creamier consistency without adding in too many additional calories or grams of fat (like using a cream or cream cheese would do). To give some green and more veggie value, I added in some chopped broccoli, then topped the final product with just a little mozzarella and Parm Reggiano. In the end, we both agreed this was our favorite spaghetti squash dish to date!

This dish takes about 45 minutes from start to finish, largely due to the roasting time, not the prep time. Click here for the nutritional facts calculated at SparkRecipes.com; this meal is a total of 7 WW points per serving.

Grocery List:
Recipe yields 2 servings
  • 1 small-medium spaghetti squash, cut into 2 halves
  • 2 cups tomato sauce (I used a roasted garlic sauce)
  • 2 oz. Neufchatel cheese
  • 1.5 cup broccoli florets, chopped very small 
  • 1/4 cup part-skim mozzarella cheese
  • 2 pinches of Parm Reggiano 
  • Roasted red pepper seasoning (optional)
To begin, pre-heat your oven to 450 degrees. Lightly spray a piece of aluminum foil and set on a baking sheet. Set the 2 halves of the spaghetti squash face up on the foil and place in the oven for 35 minutes.

In a sauce pan, begin to melt the Neufchatel chunk on low heat. This will assist when combining with the sauce. Add the sauce and continue to stir until well combined.
 

To help pre-cook your broccoli just a bit, add the florets into the sauce on medium-low heat and let simmer for about 8 minutes. 

Remove the squash from the oven and you can do one of two things. You can let it cool for about 10 minutes so that won't hurt yourself trying to manage the squash - or, you can be too eager and impatient like me. I did not hurt myself, but I did make it more cumbersome by trying to maneuver with 2 cooking mitts on my hands. It worked, but I should have just listened to Mr. Max's advice to me: "patience darlin, patience." He's been telling me that for at least 3 years now, I think he is patient that one day I will listen :-) When you have the seeds removed, now you can start combing the fork through from top side to bottom side to create the strands, then place them in a bowl and repeat with the second squash half.
  
 

Set the hollowed shells to the side for now.
 

 Add the sauce to the bowl of spaghetti squash strands and mix well.

Now, scoop the strand/sauce/broccoli filling into each hollowed shell until full.
 

Top with the cheeses and place in the oven to bake for another 10 minutes, or until cheese is slightly browned, bubbling.
 

Remove from oven and place in bowls or dishes that will easily hold the squash bowl.
 

 For a little kick, top with crushed red pepper flakes. Enjoy!
 


Tastefully yours, 

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