Making Meatless Mondays Fun with Spaghetti Squash

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Spaghetti squash is sometimes marketed as “the fun squash,” and for good reason. A super healthy vegetable that can masquerade as spaghetti! What’s not to love about that!

Spaghetti squash is probably the one squash that kids are most likely to love at first sight, let alone first bite. Cooked, it looks just like spaghetti, its long strands closely resembling spaghetti noodles. This makes it just as versatile as spaghetti; anything you can do with spaghetti you can do with spaghetti squash! You can go all traditional and serve it with tomato sauce or bolognaise or even meatballs, or you can make a little stir fry with it and serve it on a plate or even back in the shell it came from, or mix it with tomatoes and cheese and tuna and make a little casserole out of it, the options are practically limitless.

 

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The main thing is that you cook it right, and remove the squash strands from the shell carefully so as to keep the integrity of the squash “noodles”, as this is half the fun. Luckily cooking spaghetti squash is very simple. Use a chef’s knife to cut the squash lengthwise, from pole to pole, and clean out the seeds and pulp. We like to use a mason jar lid for this as the thin edges provide a good, clean scrape and you don’t run the risk of digging into the harder flesh, i.e, the desirable squash strands that cooking will plump up and release. Rub a little oil in the cavities of both halves, and season with a little salt and pepper. Place cut side down on a parchment –lined baking sheet and cook at 375 F for 30-40 minutes, or until the outer skin is soft. Remove from the oven and let cool a little so you can work with it easily.

 

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After a few minutes, gently loosen and remove the spaghetti-like strands with the tines of a fork, transferring it to a bowl or a plate. This may take a few minutes, but it is a fun activity for your little helpers. Now you can really go to town, preparing the rest of your ingredients and then combining them with your lovely squash noodles, and you can even serve your masterpiece in the baked squash shells or dish it up on a plate. You can also prepare the squash noodles in advance as they keep well in the fridge, and you can press them into service when you’re ready.

 

spaghetti squash in its shell with chicken and cheese

spaghetti squash in its shell with chicken and cheese

 

Spaghetti squash is one of nature’s superfoods, gluten-free, and perfectly suitable for a plant-based diet. High in anti-oxidants and low in calories, this squash is nutrient-dense and packed with vitamins and minerals. But to borrow a phrase from an old marketing campaign from yesteryear, “But don’t tell them…you’re the only one that has to know.”

Here’s a quick and easy vegan recipe for this fun squash that would be perfect anytime, including your next Meatless Monday.

 

Spaghetti Squash With Blistered Cherry Tomatoes & Olives

Serves 2

1-2 tablespoons olive oil, divided

15-20 cherry tomatoes

¼ c mixed (green and black) olives

1.5 cups prepared spaghetti squash noodles

Kosher salt and fresh cracked pepper

In a cast iron pan heat 1 tablespoon of the oil over medium high heat. Add the cherry tomatoes and cook, stirring constantly, until the skins start to blister. Add the olives and spaghetti squash and drizzle in the rest of the oil. Toss well and sauté until the squash is heated through, 3-5 minutes. Season with salt and pepper.

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