As many of you have probably noticed… pasta is one of my favorite comfort foods. It also happens to be an extremely simple and frugal meal to prepare — both of which work in my favor. And thankfully, Dave and Nora share my love of pasta. In fact, when Nora is asked what she’d like to eat, 9 times out of 10, she’ll say “pasta”.
We usually eat some type of pasta once a week for dinner (here are a few of my favorite recipes), and then a couple more times as leftovers for lunch. And if I’m really honest, I’ve been known to warm up a bowl of pasta for breakfast every now and then (Nora will eat this for breakfast too!)
Pasta ALWAYS sounds good to me!
I realize pasta is not the absolute worst or most unhealthy food choice I could make; however I also know it doesn’t have many nutrients at all. I usually serve our pasta meals with at least one cooked vegetable, a salad, and my homemade applesauce — so the meal isn’t all starch 🙂 And sometimes, I’ll serve the pasta as a side dish to chicken parmesan, homemade meatballs, or another meat of choice for a more hearty meal.
Due to all the gluten-free diets popping up these days, my pasta recipe posts are frequently met with “how can I make this gluten free?” questions.
I suppose my obvious answer would be to simply substitute gluten-free pasta. However, I’ve recently been hearing a lot about Spaghetti Squash from people in my “circle”. Even my sister (who also loves pasta) reported that she has regularly been swapping out many of her noodles for spaghetti squash as it’s so much healthier and actually contains vitamins and nutrients!
Since squash is gluten-free, I figured I had to give it a try, not only to appease my many gluten-free blog readers, but also just to satisfy my own curiosity as I was not very optimistic it would taste great.
Thankfully, Spaghetti Squash is readily available and very inexpensive right now — so it was the perfect time for a little experimenting on my part 🙂
I only did one squash for this post — but if this is something you want to eat more often, I’d suggest baking several squash at the same time.
Recipe for Baked Spaghetti Squash
Preheat oven to 350*F. Grease whatever pan(s) you’re using to bake the squash.
Cut each squash in half and scoop out the seeds with a spoon.
Please the squash, cut side down, in the greased pan and bake for 90 minutes at 350*F.
The picture below shows what the cooked squash looks like when it comes out of the oven. You’ll want to let it cool for a while (probably at least 20 minutes)
After the squash is cooled, use a fork to “shred” it into pasta-like strands. This is extremely simple and will require almost no pressure as it literally just falls apart.
I shred mine over a bowl and then cover and refrigerate until I need to use it for a recipe (usually later that day or the next day).
At this point, you can essentially use the shredded spaghetti squash in place of spaghetti noodles in any of your favorite pasta recipe.
The picture below is of my Pizza Pasta (one of our favorites) made with spaghetti squash.
Dave and I were both extremely surprised by how good it tasted, as well as how similar the texture was to regular pasta. We both had seconds and eagerly heated the rest up for leftovers the next day.
Nora immediately noticed a difference and asked, “Why did you use different ‘basketti’?” I just told her it was a special kind of spaghetti, and that seemed to work for her. She ate almost everything we gave her — which means she ate a fair amount of squash!
Obviously, using Spaghetti Squash wasn’t as simple as opening a box of pasta — but you could easily bake the squash the night before (or even earlier in the week) to save time. Once the squash is shredded and ready to go, you can throw a pasta dish together in no time (especially if you use store-bought sauce!)
I’m certain I won’t use spaghetti squash as a pasta substitute every single time — but this seems to be a really great way to incorporate more veggies and nutrients into pasta meals that might otherwise be a bit lacking in nutritional properties. Oh yeah, and it should work for all of your gluten-free needs!
I feel like this is one relatively small and simple change I can make every now and then to be a little healthier — and those are my favorite changes to make 🙂
What are your favorite healthier recipe substitutes?
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