Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Spaghetti Squash: A Miracle Vegetable

Chilly fall days, lingering thunderstorms, and overcast skies. That pretty much sums up what the weather has been like over here. Thankfully, we were able to venture out for a short family walk this evening. It was pretty windy, so we were only able to walk for about a mile before Matthew started to whine.

He sported his new Notre Dame hat while we were out. Paul thinks it makes him look like a gnome.

Okay, maybe it does. He's still a cute little gnome.

Matthew always insists on holding my hand as I walk beside him while Paul pushes the stroller. He picked this little habit up this past summer and I love it.

Nights like these call for something warm and comforting for dinner. One of our favorite dishes is roasted Spaghetti Squash topped with some Vodka sauce and Parmesan. Spaghetti squash is one of Paul's favorite things to eat. He really is not a big fan of vegetables unless they are MAJORLY dressed up with butter or a Velveeta cheese sauce (heaven forbid!). However, he could eat Spaghetti squash every day, which is why I have dubbed it a miracle veggie. Spaghetti squash has a solid flesh like any other member of the squash family, including Pumpkin, Butternut, Hubbard, etc. However, once it has been roasted, the insides will fall away from the shell in strands that resemble spaghetti. It can then be scooped into a bowl and eaten with sauce as a great, healthy substitute for pasta. It is absolutely delicious.

Another special guy in my life is also a big fan of Spaghetti Squash. And today happens to be his birthday! Happy Birthday to my wonderful Dad! I miss you and wish I could be there to celebrate with you. One of my favorite memories as a little girl is of you "blowing out the candles" on your birthday pie (normally pumpkin) by taking a napkin and holding it to a candle until it lit, blowing it out, and repeating. Eventually, the napkin erupted into flames and you promptly threw it into Mom's water glass. The look she gave you was priceless. I love you!

Spaghetti Squash with Vodka Sauce
sauce adapted from Cooks Illustrated

For the squash:
1 large spaghetti squash
1-2 tablespoons olive oil
Salt and Pepper

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees.

Cut the stem end off the squash with a large, sharp knife. Being careful not to cut your finger off, halve the squash lengthwise. Scoop out the seeded innards. Brush the flesh evenly with olive oil and season generously with salt and pepper. Sometimes, we like to smash a couple cloves of garlic and rub the flesh all over with the garlic. Place the squash halves face down on a large cookie sheet. Roast for 30-45 minutes (depending on your squash) or until a small, sharp knife can be easily pierce the skin of the squash.

While the squash is roasting, prepare the vodka sauce!

For the sauce:
1 28-ounce can diced tomatoes
2 medium garlic cloves, peeled
3 tablespoons Olive Oil
1/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes
1/2 cup vodka
1 cup heavy cream
Ground Black Pepper
2 tablespoons chopped fresh basil
1/4 teaspoon sugar
1 1/2 teaspoon salt

Mince garlic with a press into small bowl. Stir in 1 teaspoon water. Heat the garlic mixture, oil and red pepper flakes in a skillet over medium heat until fragrant, about 2 minutes. Be careful not to brown. Stir in the tomatoes and let simmer for 5 minutes. Stir in vodka and simmer 5 minutes longer. Stir in cream, pepper to taste, basil, sugar, and salt. Transfer the sauce to a food processor or a blender. Make sure to cover the top with a kitchen towel and process until smooth. Pour into a bowl and keep warm until squash is ready.

To Assemble:
Once the squash is cooked, remove the baking sheet from the oven. Scoop the insides with a large spoon into a strainer to remove any excess liquid (if any). The squash will be very hot, so I usually wear an oven mitt on the hand holding the squash. Repeat with the other squash half. Season with additional salt and pepper to taste.

Scoop generous amount of squash into individual bowls Spoon sauce over the squash and top with a generous sprinkling of freshly grated Parmesan. Enjoy!


  1. So excited to try this tonight...the boys love spaghetti (hopefully the trick will work) and we love squash.

    1. LOVED it...silly boys did not touch. I made extra sauce too and froze it.