Oh my gosh, you guys. Up until last week, I never knew my life was missing something. I've found a new love; a real love. It makes me feel warm and fuzzy and fills me with...joy. It's really the only thing that makes sense anymore. It's spaghetti squash.
I first fell in love with it when I used it to mimic noodles in a chicken pad Thai dish. It was easy, spicy, nutty and incredibly satisfying. It was also a bit like crack -- days later, I was still thinking about it. I needed more squash in my life. Enter baked squash and cheese: a lighter, vitamin-packed version of bad-as-shit-for-you mac 'n' cheese.
Now I know the possibilities are endless, but here are two healthful, addictive recipes to get you started (or keep you going) on your spaghetti squash journey.
It's One Squash, Two Ways:
To prepare the squash: Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Use a fork or skewer to pierce all around the squash to prevent it from bursting. Place the whole squash in a baking pan and bake for about 45 min to one hour. Let cool and slice in half lengthwise. Scoop out seeds, then use a fork to scrape out and separate the strands of "noodles." Note: You can also pop it in the microwave for about five to 10 minutes first to reduce baking time.
Spaghetti Squash Chicken Pad Thai
Prepare squash as directed above.
Use a sharp knife to slice across chicken breast horizontally, forming wide, thin strips.
Heat a wok over high heat and add 1 tsp oil. Add chicken breasts, tossing until cooked through, about two to three minutes. Toss with Sriracha and set aside.
In same wok, add 1 cup chopped bok choy, 1 cup slaw, and garlic, cooking until tender, about three minutes. Season with lightly with salt and pepper and set aside. Reduce heat to medium-low and add broth, peanut butter (start with 1 tbsp), vinegar, soy sauce and chili pasting, whisking until smooth. Taste and add more chili paste and peanut butter as desired. I added a little more of both.
Return bok choy mixture and prepared squash to pan, tossing to combine. Add in cooked chicken breast and cook until everything is warmed through and coated.
Serve topped with garnishes. I started to get a little experimental with the plating...
This is the good one. The other, I've named "Bloody Murder."
Baked Spaghetti Squash & Cheese with Spinach & Pancetta
Prepare squash as directed above.
Preheat oven to 375 degrees.
Heat 1 tsp oil in a large saucepan and add chopped pancetta, cooking until browned. Set aside. In same pan, melt 1 tbsp butter. Stir in 1 tbsp oil and minced shallot and garlic, cooking for a minute until fragrant. Whisk in flour, reduce heat to low, and cook, stirring continually, for another three to four minutes.
Gradually add in milk and chicken broth, stirring until combined. Raise heat and bring to a gentle boil, cooking until thickened, about two to three minutes. Season with salt and pepper.
Remove from heat and whisk in cheddar and Gruyere. Taste and season with salt and paprika as needed.
In a bowl, toss together prepared squash, spinach, and pancetta.
Add to baking dish and pour over cheese sauce. Sprinkle with Parmesan cheese and a pinch of paprika and bake until golden brown and bubbly, about 25 to 30 minutes.
Serve hot and thank us later.
It's like mac' and cheese, so anything works here. Switch up the recipes with things like chopped tomatoes, broccoli, brussel sprouts, Canadian bacon, mushrooms, goat cheese, lobster or shrimp.
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