I love pasta. I can eat pasta all the time, in many, different ways, and never get tired of it. However, pasta is high in carbs and eaten all the time, it can be very fattening and because of the sugar content, it can wreak havoc on someone who is trying to control their sugar intake. A healthy alternative to eating pasta is to substitute spaghetti squash for pasta. The two are similar in that spaghetti is in the name of both, and they can both be used in a similar way, but that is where the similarities end. For one serving of pasta, add about 100 calories to the meal, whereas the same serving size of spaghetti squash only adds 20 calories. Spaghetti squash is also very high in fiber and antioxidants, as well as vitamins A, B complex and C, making this a much healthier, less fatty alternative to eating pasta. Spaghetti squash is in the same family as pumpkins, zucchini, acorn squash and cucumbers. They are all part of the winter squash family known as the cucurbita family or gourd family.
I used my spaghetti squash last night and added a rich and hearty sausage and mushroom bolognaise sauce, served with a nice little side salad and a rich, crusty chiabbata dipped in olive oil with garlic, pepper and balsamic vinegar. I added a rich red blend to complete the meal. I actually used the spaghetti squash as a little “boat”, and just topped the sauce right on top along with mozzarella and baked it all together.
I add wines to my sauces all the time, but not usually when I make a bolognaise sauce. Every now and then though, I change things up a bit and vary my recipes, just to give them a kick and do something a little different. This was one of those times when I added red wine to my bolognaise sauce. I had some red wine that I just did not like at all, and could not drink. I very rarely find a bottle of wine that I do not like, but believe it or not, it does happen every now and then (I am not going to reveal the name of the unliked wine). Well, I hate to waste anything, so even if I do not like things in their original form, I will always try my best to re-purpose it in other ways. This time it was in making my sauce. I admit, as much as I try my best to make everything from scratch, I very rarely make my own pasta sauce from scratch, mainly due to lack of time. Instead, I enhance ready-made sauces and make them my own. These are the ingredients I used, along with my favorite ready-made sauce.
The spaghetti squash was in the oven baking with salt, pepper, and olive oil, at 350* F for about 10-12 minutes to soften while I pan-fried my sausages and was cutting all my other ingredients for my sauce. After the sausages were cooked, using the same pan, I sauteed my mushrooms, garlic, onions and red pepper flakes in olive oil, then added the red wine. By using the same pan, you get all the flavors and drippings from the sausages that add to the flavor of the sauce. This time, I used a chicken-basil sausage, but you can use whatever type of sausage you like. We eat a lot of sausage, and we try all kinds. Because spaghetti is such a staple here in the United states, and everyone has their own “favorite” version of bolognaise sauce, I would not even think of stepping on those time-honored traditions by giving an actual recipe. For some reason spaghetti and spaghetti sauce takes on the personality of the person who prepares it. Often times these recipes are family heirlooms that have been passed through the generations. So make your spaghetti sauce in your own favorite way and try it with the spaghetti squash to add a new twist to things.
After the mushrooms, garlic and onions have softened, add the sauce, the remaining ingredients, including the spices and herbs (dried herbs. If using fresh, wait until the last few minutes of cooking or add just before serving so the flavors and textures do not get lost in the cooking process); and the sausage. Incorporate everything well, bring to a boil, then reduce the heat to a simmer and continue to simmer for an additional 10-20 minutes, or until the sauce reaches your desired consistency.
I was going for a baked and crusted effect, so I spooned my sauce over my squash boats and topped them with mozzarella cheese. Then I baked them for an additional 20-30 minutes, or until my cheese was completely melted and had a nice brown crust on it. You can also just spoon it over the cooked and scraped squash to make it look more like “spaghetti” too if you prefer. It was just a different presentation and a slightly different taste, but basically it is the same.
Buon Apitito e mangia!