I'll admit it -- I'm a HUGE pasta snob. Ever since studying abroad in Italy I have been extremely picky and choosy when it comes to any type of pasta. It's gotten so bad that I will rarely eat it while in America. To me it's just so much better in Italy and well worth the wait, even if that wait ends up being 9 months. Call me crazy if you want!!
Since pasta is such an easy and versatile dish, by basically cutting it out of my diet I am limiting myself when it comes to quick and simple dinners! BUT WAIT...enter the new love of my life - spaghetti squash. Not only does it look like spaghetti it can also be used instead of pasta in many dishes. And okay, I won't lie to you, it doesn't taste exactly like that starch we all love, but my taste buds have actually grown to prefer this amazing vegetable over most noodles (excluding the true Italian ones of course).
Here is how I like to prepare my spaghetti squash:
1. Cut the squash in half length-wise. Be careful because you will need a very sharp knife and some serious arm muscles to get through it. I often have to call for help!
2. Scoop out the seeds and squash-goo just like you would when you're pumpkin carving. I used a grapefruit spoon; the little teeth on the edge of the spoon made this step very easy.
3. Take a microwave safe dish that is large enough to fit the squash. Fill it with about 1/4 inch of water. Take one half of the squash and place it flat side down in the dish.
4. Microwave your squash, depending on it's size. I like to do 5 minutes at a time, then check the squash. To test if it's done, poke the squash with a sharp knife. If it enters into the squash easily, it's done! Be careful not to overcook it because then the strands of squash will turn to mush.
5. Take the squash out of the dish CAREFULLY!! Steam will be released when you lift the squash up. Using a fork, just scrape the sides of the squash. Try scraping lengthwise. It goes against the grain of the strands and will make it easier.
6. Scoop out all the strands and place them in a bowl. Most of the flesh should be scraped out, and you will be left with just the rind.
Now your spaghetti squash is ready for eating! Treat it just like a pasta and dress it any way you like; try with some spaghetti sauce, sauteed veggies, as a side dish for chicken, or even with some pesto! The possibilities are endless. Not to mention, when replacing regular pasta with spaghetti squash, you are getting a boost of nutrients and are consuming fewer calories! Win-win situation.