By Kelly Bogard
I love pasta. Really, I think I must have been Italian in my past life. I would eat pasta every day if my waistline could handle it. See, my problem is moderation.
Just like most everything else in life, pasta must be eaten in moderation. When I think of pasta, I think about the biggest bowl of spaghetti or a giant plate of chicken alfredo. And even though you can eat those things every once in a while, you shouldn’t have them every day.
A way my family has learned to curb our cravings is with substitutions. One of our favorites is Spaghetti Squash. Yes, we use a vegetable for pasta. It looks like spaghetti and cooks to a good al dente, so why not? Plus it is lower in carbohydrates than pasta, so it can be a great substitute for people on a low carb diet or diabetic meal plan.
For Beefy Spaghetti Squash Bake, you will need…
1 (3-4 lb.) spaghetti squash
1 onion, chopped
2 garlic cloves, chopped
1 lb. lean ground beef (I use 90 percent lean)
1 (24 oz.) can spaghetti sauce
1 tsp. oregano
1 cup grated cheddar cheese
1/4 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese
Salt and pepper to taste
Do not be afraid of spaghetti squash. It can look pretty intimidating in the produce section, but I promise this vegetable is easy to prepare and tastes wonderful. When cooked, it will look similar to cooked spaghetti noodles and has a crisp, sweet flavor.
First things, first. Preheat your oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. After washing your squash, pierce it several times with a knife. The skin on this particular variety of squash is pretty thick, so you will need to use a good amount of pressure to penetrate all the way to the meat. Now cook in the microwave for 10-12 minutes, flipping over halfway through cooking.
While your squash is cooking, combine the ground beef, onion and garlic in a large skillet and brown over medium heat. Once cooked through, drain any grease and return to the skillet.
By now your squash is finished cooking. Let it cool, though, because it will be too hot to handle. Go ahead and combine the tomato sauce, oregano and meat mixture in the skillet and cover. Let it simmer for about 15 minutes.
Once your squash is cool enough to touch, split it in half, lengthwise, to expose the meat and seeds. Scoop out the seeds and discard.
Add the meat and sauce mixture to the “spaghetti,” mixing well. Then add half of the grated cheddar cheese and season to taste.
Finally, pour into an 8-inch-by-8-inch baking dish and top with remaining the cheddar cheese. Bake for 10-15 minutes or until the cheese is melted. Top with Parmesan before serving.
As you can see, this recipe can be quite good for you and is really easy to make. And, while you are not going to completely fool someone who is expecting pasta, I do think they will enjoy the change. I hope this becomes one of your healthy eating favorites.
If you want to share any of your healthy recipes with me, I would love to try them out. Send them my way!
From all of us at Texas Table Top, enjoy!
Recipe: Beefy Spaghetti Squash Bake
Summary: Light alternative to delicious pasta
- 1 (3-4 lb.) spaghetti squash
- 1 onion, chopped
- 2 garlic cloves, chopped
- 1 lb. lean ground beef
- 1 (24 oz.) can spaghetti sauce
- 1 tsp. oregano
- 1 cup grated cheddar cheese
- 1/4 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese
- Salt and pepper to taste
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit.
- Pierce the spaghetti squash several times with large knife and place in the microwave. Cook on high for 12 minutes, turning halfway through so it cooks evenly. Remove to cool.
- Combine onion, garlic and beef in a large skillet and cook over medium heat until cooked through. Drain off grease.
- Add tomato sauce and oregano to meat mixture. Simmer, covered, for about 15 minutes or until the mixture has thickened slightly.
- Once the squash has cooled a bit, cut in half lengthwise to expose the fruit inside.
- Scoop out the seeds and discard.
- Using a fork, scrape the meat from the squash in strands.
- Season to taste with salt and pepper.
- Stir spaghetti squash into the meat mixture, then spoon into a baking dish and sprinkle with cheddar cheese.
- Bake, uncovered, for 10-15 minutes or until browned slightly.
- Top with Parmesan before serving.
Cooking time (duration): 30 minutes
Number of servings (yield): 4-6