Somewhere along the way, I read that spaghetti squash is a great, healthy, high-fiber substitute for pasta. After finding lots of good how-to guides on how to make it, like this one, I decided it would be my big adventure for the weekend.
There are 2 different ways you can approach a spaghetti squash - either cut it in half and prep it first and then cook it, shortening the cooking time, or cook it first and then cut it and dig out the seeds and pulp. Since I like the idea of shorter cooking times, I thought I'd try cutting it up first. Well, they weren't kidding when they said it's hard to cut. I tried with my biggest knife AND A HAMMER and couldn't even make a dent. So, I went the easier route. I poked a few holes in the side to let steam escape, then popped it in at 375 degrees for 1 hour.
Here's what it looked like cooked. It's very easy to cut after baking, but VERY hot. Use oven mitts or pot holders. Scrape out the seeds and the kinda gooey stuff in the middle. Side note: Baking it for an hour leaves a GREAT sweet smell in your house that lingers for at least an hour so far.
Then you're left with the "meat" of the squash - scrape that out with a fork and it easily comes out in strands. Note, it's still very hot - continue to use the oven mitt.
I topped it all with the last container of my homemade meat sauce. This was really good! The squash has a slightly sweeter taste than normal spaghetti, but it still worked well with the sauce. I did put a little margarine (Smart Balance, trans-fat-free) in the mix, based on some advice, but it wasn't really necessary with the sauce. If I was making the squash as a side dish, though, I definitely would use the margarine for taste and texture.
Even though I picked out the smallest squash in the store, it still made WAY too much. I ended up eating only about 1/3 of the plate (but all the sauce, yum.). I don't know how well it would hold up as a leftover... so I may reserve the full spaghetti squash experience for times when I have people over and make it an occasion. Otherwise, my whole wheat pasta will continue to do just fine.
That's it, I'm done cooking for the weekend -- probably for a while cuz I'll be pretty busy for the next week. But I learned a lot! And I'll definitely do some of these tricks again.