In honor of the longer days, I offer this gloriously orange-red, mildly spicy dish that gives pure pasta pleasure–without the pasta! Spaghetti squash is inexpensive, nourishing, and high in fiber, and it marries beautifully with this cheese-kissed sauce to make a colorful, low-carb meal rich in lycopene and anti-oxidants, so tasty that even kids will enjoy it.
1 spaghetti squash (about 1 1/2 pounds. If you can only find a large one, just cook the whole thing and freeze half of it for a later use)
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 or 2 hot chile peppers, diced (more or less, depending on how hot you like it)
1 or 2 pieces soy “bacon” (optional)
1 cup canned Italian plum tomatoes with their juice, pureed
Salt and freshly-ground black pepper, to taste
1/2 cup freshly-grated Parmesan or Pecorino-Romano cheese
1. Preheat oven to 350F. Trim the stem off the squash and split the squash in half lengthwise. Using a grapefruit or other sharp-edged spoon, scoop out the seeds. Place the squash halves facedown in a baking pan and add 1/2 inch of hot water. Cover securely with foil and bake 40 minutes.
2. Allow the squash to cool, then use a fork to scrape the pasta-like fibers into a bowl. Reserve.
3. In a large pot over medium heat, heat the oil, then add garlic, chile, and soy “bacon,” if using. Cook for a few minutes until garlic is fragrant and “bacon” is slightly crisp.
4. Add tomatoes, lower the heat, and continue cooking about 20 minutes until the mixture thickens a bit. Add salt and pepper to taste.
5. Add the pre-cooked squash, stir thoroughly to combine, and cook about 5 minutes, until heated through. Serve hot.
By Cait Johnson, Assistant Producer of Care2's Healthy Living Content.