Veggie spaghetti

Sometimes all you need is a little substitution to make dinner go from heavy to healthy.

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We were out at the Cape Cod Mall, picking up my annual supply of Bath and Body Works goodies, when I decided we needed to have a late lunch at Not Your Average Joe’s. I mostly wanted to go there because I love dipping bread in olive oil. We had my son Dan with us, and he needs to stick (mostly) to a gluten-free diet. We looked over the menu, and found a gluten-free dish made with spaghetti squash and a Bolognese sauce.
Little did I know this experience would be life-changing. Dan loved it. I tried a bite, and I loved it too. I had heard of spaghetti squash, but I assumed it was complicated to make, and that if I was successful preparing it, it wouldn’t taste very good. A week or two later I added it to our grocery list, and looked up a recipe online. It was incredibly easy to prepare, and also sort of fun to put on the plate.

Now, a more accomplished cook might take all afternoon to concoct a spaghetti sauce to sit on top of the bright-yellow stringy squash. Not this one. I like to open a quality can of crushed tomatoes, pour it into my favorite deep pan, and then add anything I feel like that day. Then I let it simmer. And there’s not much I make that you can’t top with Parmesan cheese, so this recipe works out fine. It’s become one of my weeknight go-tos.

Spaghetti Squash with Sauce
Serves 4-6.

2 spaghetti squash, cut in half with seeds removed
2 Tbsp. olive oil

Sauce

2 Tbsp. olive oil
4 cloves of garlic, sliced thin
1 16-oz. can crushed tomatoes
1 Tbsp. capers
½ tsp. red pepper flakes
Parmesan cheese, shredded (optional)

Cut the squash in half lengthways, and scoop out the seeds. Place the four halves, flesh side up, and drizzle olive oil on top of them; rub it around to cover the inside of the squash. Salt and pepper to taste.

Turn the squash over, skin side up, on top of a foil-lined baking sheet. Cook the squash for around 40 to 45 minutes in a 400° oven. (Check it by poking a knife through the skin — if it goes in easily, you’re all set.)

While the squash is baking, start the sauce: Warm up the oil olive on the stove, and place the sliced garlic in the oil. Cook for just a few minutes, careful not to brown the garlic. Add the crushed tomatoes, capers, and red pepper flakes, and keep the sauce simmering until the squash is done.
When the squash is ready, remove from the oven and use a spatula to turn it over. When it’s still warm to the touch, use a fork and scrape the flesh out of the squash. It really does look like spaghetti at this point. Put each serving heaped on a plate, and spoon the sauce on top. Add shredded Parmesan cheese, if you like.