So here I was, all set to shoot you an enchilada recipe, and I got distracted by one of the best things to ever come out of my kitchen. Not kidding – it was not the day to decide to cut down my portion sizes in order to combat the 5 pounds that have mysteriously appeared on my stomach.
And can I just digress for a second? Ok so I eat petty well – half a plate of veggies, small plates, etc. I’m not perfect – we all know I have a bread obsession – but to combat that, I’m also at the gym 4 times a week for an average of 45 minutes. I have not changed a thing in a while, but all of a sudden, this five pounds seems to think it has a new home, and I’m all “Listen buddy, I have a trip to San Diego in 3 weeks and I WILL be in my bikini because it WILL BE at least 75 the whole time I’m there and I don’t want to look like a fool.” So I decided to go “low carb” – which is probably a normal amount for everyone else, but you know – and I freaking made the BEST THING EVER. AND it’s low carb. I know. I was shocked as all get out too.
So this dish sprung from an EPIC weekend of funness a couple of weeks ago where I 1. saw TWO movies in the THEATER. They tell me this is normal for most people but up until last weekend kids, I hadn’t been to one in almost a year. Why spend the money when I can sit at home in my jammies with a glass of wine and the pause button? When I can see Christina Aguilera shake her booty and Bruce Willis blow crap up for a mere $4 on the big screen, that’s when. So we’re out with friends Saturday and they mention making spaghetti squash. Now I had heard rumblings about this particular varietal, but was never convinced because people actually dared call it a pasta “substitute.” That business is just blasphemy and should go straight down under, do not pass go, do not collect 5 lbs on your belly. But they said “No really, we kind of had to do it in the beginning, but it’s really good and has effectively 0 calories and cooks AL DENTE.” Magic words friends, because I like a bite on everything – pasta, veggies, men…So I thought, what the hey.
Saturday night, we are out dancing with yet more friends and did dinner first at my FAVORITE place downtown, Bistro Bella Vita. I had a great gnocchi app (well, it was a mini meal, let’s not kid) with a beef short rib, almost bolognese, sauce. Tucked away as delicious UNTIL…
Sunday. Cammie and Jay and sweet Andy come over for roasted leg of lamb. Which I prepared when we got home from the club at 1:30 and roasted while we were sleeping, a feat of EPIC brilliance on my part since the leg wouldn’t fit in a crock pot. We had a TON of leftovers. If you’ve ever dined at my house, you know this is like saying the sky is blue.
So in my grocery shopping, I buy said squash, thinking I’ll whip up a fast marinara to go with. I get home from the gym Monday night – ok, scratch that, I’m thinking about dinner while AT the gym, trying to get through the workout – and I remember the lamb. And that I have carrots. And an entire PRODUCE DRAWER full of bell peppers (1.99 a pound and YES I will buy as many as I can stuff in my fridge – do you know what they normally charge for those things? Highway robbery.) And I think – bolognese. Let’s really give this squash a test drive. I figured it would be screaming and begging for mercy under the weight of the sauce, but at this point, didn’t care. And friends? WRONG I was. I underestimated that poor squash.
Now here’s the thing – it is NOT a pasta “substitute.” It IS a nice, light alternative to pasta in certain dishes. It takes on the flavor of sauce well, does in fact cook up al dente and while the flavor is different from pasta, it’s also nice. The sauce – seriously guys, the SAUCE – is SUPER rich. For this, I actually prefer the squash because it does a great job of cutting the richness. Pasta would almost be too heavy. The sauce was great, because the lamb was shredded – which means it soaked up all the sauceness of the wine and tomato sauce and was SUPER thick and rich.
So. Run out and make this as fast as possible. Also, you could totally sub in shredded beef or venison if lamb’s not your gig.What I made served 8, but I cut the squash in what I give you below, so 4-6.
1 spaghetti squash (I used 2. You do not need 2 unless you want to eat this for the rest of the week.)
Salt and pepper (to taste)
4 T Italian seasoning (2 for the squash and 2 for the sauce)
1 diced onion
5 cloves chopped garlic
4 carrots, peeled and diced into half-inch chunks
1 red bell pepper, diced into half-inch chunks
1/2 cup dry red wine
1 28 oz can crushed tomatoes
2 cups shredded lamb (or beef, or venison)
Goat cheese, for garnish
Crusty bread to dip if you aren’t doing this for the low carb bennies
The squash is easy – cut in half and scrape out the seeds. (Which is not easy, so much as simple. Make sure you have a really sharp knife and be really careful, because those suckers are HARD.) Put on a baking sheet cut side up, drizzle with some EVOO, 2 T of the seasoning, salt and pepper and bake at 400 for about 35-40 minutes, or until fork tender.
Meanwhile, saute onions, carrots and red pepper on medium high heat in EVOO (2 T or so) until tender – probably 15 minutes or so. I would chop the carrots first and get them going, then add the bell pepper and onion as you get it done, because they will take less time to cook.
Add garlic and shredded meat and cook about 2 more minutes, until you can smell it.
Deglaze the pan with the red wine. Aka, dump in the wine, and while it’s bubbling, scrape the bottom of the pan with a wooden spoon to pick up all the yummy bottom bits.
Add in the tomatoes, seasoning and salt and pepper. Let simmer until squash is done.
Once the squash is done, just run your fork along it and you’ll see how it separates like spaghetti. Serve topped with as much sauce as you want and goat cheese for garnish, if you like. I recommend it because the sharpness and acidity from the cheese combats the richness of the sauce nicely, but your call.
Die a death of immense pleasure. Go back for more. Lick the pan when done. But make sure it’s cooled first.