Sailing Away

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Surprise your family this week with dinner in a boat. No kidding –  a spaghetti squash can make perfectly adorable little boats for serving dinner. It’s just the most entertaining vegetable. We have it all the time because it’s easy, versatile, and inexpensive – plus yummy. Back to easy - take a spaghetti squash- cut it in half, scrape out seeds and put it cut side down in a pan with a little water. Place the pan in a 350-degree oven for about 50 minutes and just walk away. When you take the squash out of the oven, let it cool for a few minutes, scrape out the insides with a fork and watch as it become beautiful little strands of “spaghetti.” It really does look like spaghetti strands – an immediate source of amazement for kids and adults – like me - who are still kids when it comes to spaghetti. From here the world is your oyster. If time is an issue, mix the spaghetti squash strands with butter and Parmesan cheese, stuff it back in the shells and run under the broiler.  Make that dish fancy with chopped parsley and sun-dried tomatoes. Make it Greek with canned artichoke hearts, black olives, olive oil and goat cheese. Make it Mediterranean with pesto. Stir in leftover chicken and alfredo sauce – add broccoli for color and taste and name it anything you want. I’m thinking you get the general idea here. But here is our favorite – “Spaghetti” Spaghetti Squash Boats. No – not a typo - that’s what we call it. I make a delicious but simple tomato sauce that simmers while the squash is baking. The sauce is mixed with the spaghetti squash strands and topped with mozzarella cheese. Frequently we enjoy this as a vegetarian main dish with a tasty salad and maybe some garlic bread. Sometimes I add Italian sausage and make it even heartier. It can also be a side dish with a bit of grilled seafood or roasted meat alongside. Admittedly you do not have to stuff the squash back in the shells– it’s still delicious – just without the cute factor. No matter how I serve spaghetti squash, getting rave reviews is not a problem. I mean it’s a vegetable and it looks like spaghetti. That’s too much fun to pass up! Try this one out and enjoy!

“Spaghetti” Spaghetti Squash Boats

Ingredients

2 spaghetti squash (makes 4 servings for a main course – easy to double)

For Sauce

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½ onion, diced

1 Tbsp olive oil

3 -4 cloves garlic, minced

28 oz can diced tomatoes, undrained

6 oz can tomato sauce

4 Tbsp tomato paste

1 cup red wine

1 stem of basil or several basil leaves – or 1 Tbsp dried basil

1 tsp salt (taste for more)

½ tsp pepper (can substitute red pepper flakes for a spicy version)

Optional: Parmesan cheese rind

Mozzarella cheese for topping

·      See article above for variations – like adding Italian sausage!

Directions

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. (It is possible to cook the squash in the microwave – I like the texture better from the oven – but use the microwave method in a hurry.)

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Cut squash in half and scrape out seeds.

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Place squash in a baking dish with about 1 inch of water.

Bake 50 minutes – remove from oven and cool 10 minutes.

While squash bakes – make sauce:

In a large pan or Dutch oven sauté onions in olive oil over medium high heat until softened.

Add garlic and cook one more minute.

Stir in tomatoes, tomato sauce, tomato paste, wine, basil, salt, pepper, and Parmesan rind.

Lower heat and simmer 30 minutes – add more wine if it gets too dry.

To assemble:

Use a fork to scrape spaghetti strands from squash. Reserve shells.

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Add spaghetti strands to a mixing bowl.

Remove parmesan rind and basil from sauce and mix with squash.

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Put squash mixture in reserves squash shells and top with mozzarella cheese.

Return to the oven to reheat for 5 minutes, broiling for a minute if desired to brown the top.

Serve immediately and enjoy!

·      Other ideas for recipes are in this blog – have fun creating your own version!

 

 

 

 

 

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