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Squashy Spaghetti

January 9, 2012

Well, hello folks! Let me tell you today about the best thing ever: spaghetti squash.

First, an explanation: gluten-free pasta, for me, is hard to get a hold of for a decent price (the Bulk Barn is like a bus ride + streetcar + walk away, and baby, it’s cold outside) – luckily, a healthy and delicious solution resides in the root vegetables aisle of my local grocery store! Spaghetti squash are so named because their flesh, when cooked, actually comes away in strings that are not unlike the long, delicious noodles that I crave when the downstairs neighbour has been cooking pasta and I’ve been on campus all day.

Yup. These babies cost a couple bucks each (they’re about 89 cents a kilo at my local No Frills), and take about an hour to prepare – most of which is sitting around waiting to take them out of the oven, so they’re a good way to get your homework done before dinner. Bonus: completely gluten-free, low on the calories, and full of vegetabley goodness, like vitamin A and folic acid.

So, preheat your oven to 375 degrees – depending on your oven, you may want to adjust up or down to 400 or 350 respectively – and hack that mother into two pieces, lengthwise. This may take you a while: the squash are pretty tough on the outside, and the one I had was desperately trying to escape the entire time.

Protip: the seeds can be roasted, just like pumpkin seeds!

Once it’s been halved, eviscerate it; I used a spoon. Make sure to scrape it as clean as you can, and though there may be a few stringy bits that persist, don’t sweat it; it’s all edible in the end. Spread some olive oil around the inside, making sure to coat it all, and then add salt and pepper, to give it a bit of flavour.

Place the squash face-down on a cookie sheet, and pour enough water on to the sheet to cover it completely, but not enough to slosh over the lip when you transfer it to the oven, which is the next step. Once in the oven, the squash should stay there for at least 50 minuts, or until it’s tender (I test this by flipping over one of the halves and poking it with a fork). Use this time to read a book, watch an episode of Supernatural, prepare some sort of sauce or other food you will be eating with the spaghetti squash, or stare longingly at the oven. Totally up to you!

The squash, once finished, will be super-hot, so let them cool a bit before you begin to scrape them out (if you plan to eat it with tomato sauce, and I recommend that you do, this would be a good time to warm up some sauce in a pan). In order to get the spaghetti-like strings, take a fork and gently scrape along the first centimetre of squash flesh. It should come out quite easily.

One half makes quite a lot, too, and it's very easy to store in the fridge.

Add sauce, get the rest of your dinner ready, and bon appétit! They’re softer than brown rice spaghetti noodles and less chewy – the taste is subtle and hard to describe. It does taste of vegetable in that sweet, bland way, but not overwhelmingly so as it takes on a lot of whatever you’re serving over it: I suggest spaghetti sauce, but butter and brown sugar are perfectly acceptible, should you share my sweet tooth.

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