Cucurbita Pepo

I love spaghetti squash, however I do not consider it a replacement for or an alternative to real pasta.  Pasta is pasta and squash is a veggie, in my opinion. That said, I love veggies and if a meal doesn’t include veggies, I feel like something important is missing.  On the other hand, if a meal doesn’t have either potatoes or rice, my husband thinks something is missing.

Chicken was the plan for the evening, and I wanted something different  to go with it, something tomato based, so I decided to make up a “sauce” of onions, tomatoes, artichoke hearts, and Kalamata olives.  I put quotes around “sauce” because it wasn’t really a sauce per say in the Italian tomato sauce sense, but the thickness/consistency of a thick salsa.

The squash itself was baked in a hot oven for close to an hour; it was done after 45-50 minutes.  I did let it cool a bit, so it wasn’t as difficult to handle and then scooped it out of the skins before tossing it with the tomatoes.  I finished it with freshly chopped basil and I hit mine with some crumbled low-fat feta (no cheese for my dairy-free hubs).  I served it with some thinly cut oven “fried” chicken cutlets tossed in seasoned gluten free flour.  And, since Chip needed a starch to complete his meal, I made some boiled baby golden potatoes, cut in half and then sautéed to crisp them up a little and topped them with a balsamic glaze.

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Spaghetti Squash with Tomatoes and Artichokes

1 medium sized spaghetti squash, cut in half lengthwise with seeds removed
2 tablespoons olive oil
¼ cup thinly sliced sweet yellow onion
1 package of fresh mini San Marzano tomatoes, diced (you can sub grape tomatoes or romas, but I like the flavor of the San Marzonos)
1 teaspoon dried oregano
1 teaspoon dried basil
1 teaspoon minced garlic
3 tablespoons cooking sherry
¼ cup veggie or chicken broth
¼ cup diced marinated artichoke hearts
¼ cup diced Kalamata olives (pitted)
salt and pepper to taste
minced fresh basil
feta cheese crumbles or freshly grated parmesan (optional)

Carefully slice a spaghetti squash lengthwise with a sturdy, sharp knife.  Scrape out the seeds and place in a 9×13 baking dish cut sides up.  Spritz or brush with a little bit of olive oil and sprinkle with a couple pinches of coarse sea salt.  Place the dish in a cold oven, and turn it up to 460 degrees.  Let the squash roast for 45-55 minutes or until done.

While the squash is baking, slice the onions, and dice tomatoes, artichokes and olives.  Heat the olive oil in a large pan and cook the onions until golden and tender, about 3 minutes.  Add in the tomatoes and spices, tossing to coat.  Next, add the cooking sherry and let it reduce, for a couple of minutes, stirring so the mixture doesn’t burn or stick to the bottoms.  Stir in the broth, then mix in the artichokes and olives and let simmer over low for 3-4 minutes.  Remove from heat.

Once the squash is done, remove it from the oven and let it rest for about 15 minutes.  Carefully scoop out the strands using a fork and add them to the pan of tomatoes, seasoning with salt and pepper as you gently toss the mixture together.  Top with freshly minced basil and serve immediately.  And if you want to cheese it up, use some crumbled feta or parmesan (anything else will be too heavy for the strands of squash.

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