I hate to admit it–in part because I feel like I’m slapping the evolutionary food chain in the face–but I really am not the biggest fan of meat. A couple of years back, there was even a six month period where I went meatless; but I proved to be a disastrous vegetarian as I have this terrible character flaw where I take bites of my boyfriend’s food. It got to the point where I was hoping Chris would order a hamburger just so I could have a bite–or six. It was obviously time to incorporate meat back into my diet.
While I now enjoy chicken and some parts/cuts of turkey, pork, and beef, I still end up opting for meatless dishes a majority of the time. And I don’t want to be that girl who forces my dietary choices onto those around me, especially Chris (why should he have to suffer?). Consequently, I’ve been on a non-stop search for adaptable recipes that can easily integrate or omit meat. I’ve been doing this for quite some time and was continuously intrigued by some of the spaghetti squash recipes I came across. The squash gets its name because when cooked, the insides scrape off in long fibrous strands resembling angel hair spaghetti. I love pasta like anybody else, I just hate the fact that by the time you add the sauce and cheese, your caloric intake is through the roof and back in Italy. With its nutritional value high and its fat and calories low, I decided to give this spaghetti squash a shot in the form of a stuffed boat. Say what?
The stuffed spaghetti squash boat was too cool of a cooking challenge to pass up. I looked at over a dozen recipes for reference and quickly realized how easy it was to personalize the dish. I decided to make the filling out of some of my favorite vegetables. Although I didn’t use any meat in my recipe, it would have been extremely easy to add a protein, like meatballs or chicken, into the overall mixture. The boats turned out delicious (sorry to be vain, but it’s part of the blogging thing) and can be paired with a meat entree as a side, or enjoyed as a main dish.
Stuffed Spaghetti Squash Boats
-1 medium sized spaghetti squash
-1 to 2 tbs olive oil per skillet
-Salt + Pepper
-3 to 4 cloves of garlic, peeled and chopped
-1 medium onion
-1 yellow squash, quartered and sliced
-1 zucchini, quartered and sliced
-1.5 cups grape tomatoes, quartered and sliced
-2 handfulls of fresh spinach, lightly chopped
-1 tsp dried oregano
-1 tsp dried basil
-1 cup shredded Italian cheese blend
-1/4 Italian style bread crumbs
-1/4 to 1/2 cup of tomato sauce (I used Bertolli’s tomato and basil)
-1/4 cup of Parmesan cheese
-1/4 cup of Italian style bread crumbs
-Dash of Salt
-Dash of Pepper
Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. Slice the spaghetti squash lengthwise, remove the seeds, sprinkle with salt, and place cut-side down in a baking dish (I used a pyrex dish). Fill the dish half way with water. If you are a salt freak like me, you can add more salt to the water. Bake for 45 minutes (cooking times will vary depending on the size of the squash and your oven).
While the spaghetti squash is baking, in a large skillet, sauté two cloves of garlic in olive oil and salt until golden and then add the onions and cook on medium heat for 5 minutes. Add the yellow squash, zucchini, salt and pepper and cook on medium heat for about 10 minutes, or until tender. In a separate skillet, sauté a clove of garlic in olive oil and add the tomatoes, spinach, oregano, basil, and salt and pepper (to taste). Cook on medium heat for about ten minutes.
Once the squash has baked, remove from the oven and let cool for at least ten minutes. With a fork, scrape out the squash and place in a large bowl. Set aside the squash’s skins/bowls (ie. boat).
Take the tomato sauce (start with less, you can always add more if you need to) and slowly mix into the spaghetti squash. Add the onions, yellow squash, zucchini, tomatoes, spinach, Italian cheese blend, and the bread crumbs and mix together all of the contents in the bowl. As evenly as possible, scoop the filling back into the spaghetti squash skins/bowls. Sprinkle the tops with breadcrumbs, Parmesan, and salt and pepper for a crunchy topping. Place the filled spaghetti squash boats on a baking sheet and cook at 400 for 15 minutes, or until the crust begins to brown.
Let the boats cool for at least ten minutes. Serve with garlic bread and dive in. Enjoy!