Monday, January 23, 2012

Spaghetti Squash Staple

Here is a must have side for your arsenal of quick and tasties that can go along with pretty much anything.  I was in the grocery trying to pick up a few things to cook Sunday night dinner at my parents' and I noticed how nice and yellow the winter squash were so I picked one up.  The bulk portobella mushrooms looked darn good too so I grabbed a couple of those and I was off.  If you don't have an onion, garlic, a block of parmesan, a little olive oil and some butter lying around the house then you may want to grab those staple items also.  This side dish is quick and easy, but so good that if you're not cooking for four, you'll be dreaming all night about how you get to eat it again for lunch the next day (or maybe even breakfast).  Spaghetti squash is so called because after you cook it up, you can scrape the flesh out with a fork and it comes out in strands that are so similar to spaghetti noodles it is quite scary - it's like a little spaghetti noodle making machine.  If you're being carbohydrate conscious, or just trying to eat more veggies as we all probably should, then the spaghetti squash is a great alternative to pasta - you can even save the seeds and roast them up for a snack later.  For the spaghetti squash and mushroom side dish you will need:
1 heavy, yellow spaghetti squash (they're the oblong, round, yellow ones)
2 large portobella mushroom caps sliced
1 medium yellow onion chopped
3 large cloves garlic chopped fine or minced
Extra virgin olive oil
Parmesan cheese
2 Tbsp butter (optional)
Salt and pepper
Get a pot of water (big enough to hold the squash) boiling.  You can throw in a generous portion of salt so that while the squash is cooking it takes up a little of that salty flavor.  Cut the squash in half longways - be careful cause these things don't just cut in two like a summer squash.  Lay the two halves in the boiling water and let them boil while you get over to the rest of the ingredients.  In a large skillet, heat up about 4 tbsp olive oil.  Don't do like I did and stick your finger in the oil to see if it is hot because that will burn your finger and it will hurt - it's hot when it just starts to give off a little smoke.  Throw your chopped onions in now and throw a small little pinch of salt on 'em.  As the onions are getting soft, you can slice up your mushrooms and check on your squash or if you're like me you can cut off a little pat of butter and eat it while no one is really looking.  Seriously though, make sure your mushrooms and garlic are ready before the onions start to get that nice little brown coloration - and when the onions are soft and slightly browned, throw the mushrooms in the skillet toss a half pinch of salt over 'em and let them get soft.  I always see on tv where they never wash the mushrooms or salt them because supposedly it changes the texture and all this mess, so if I am cooking them, I don't wash them - just thought I would throw that out there, but I did give them that little pinch of salt.  After the 'shrooms get dark and soft, toss in the garlic and give everyone a little stir around - if it's dry in there you can add a little more oil.  At this point, the squash should be done.  It will be soft to the prick of a fork.  Take the halves out and rake the flesh with a fork and watch the magic.  Dump all of the "spaghetti" in to the skillet with the 'shrooms and onions and garlic and mix it all up.  This is where I add the butter - if you're trying to avoid saturated fat or you don't like butter for some horrible reason then you can just add a little more oil or just don't add anything.  Grate a little Parmesan on top of the whole mess and you've got a side that might just take over the whole meal and decide that it is not a side anymore and that it is not going to take any abuse from anybody and it will now name itself the star of the yeah, it's pretty good.  Salt and pepper to your liking.  By the way, a piece of baked wild salmon and a nice green salad goes really well with this one.  Enjoy!!

As Always, Gluten Free

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