Saturday, February 23, 2013

Spaghetti Squash Au Gratin (no lie...cheesy potato impostor)

I saw this recipe on Pinterest this morning (check me out here and look on my "Recipes That Sound Really Good" board), and it sounded so good I made it tonight.  I read the reviews and everyone raved about it.  I was a little skeptical, because I can't imagine a squash being a suitable replacement for my beloved and missed potatoes.  But I gave it a go.

Here's what you need:

1 medium spaghetti squash
1 Tbsp canola oil
1 small yellow onion, cut in half and very thinly sliced (I used my amazing Ninja Express Chop to dice them up)  And you may want to use just 1/2 an onion.  I used half and the onion flavor still really came through.  It may be too strong for some people if you use a whole onion.
1/4 tsp red pepper flakes
1 tsp fresh thyme (or 1/4 tsp dried thyme)
1/2 C light sour cream
1 1/2 C cheddar cheese

The first challenge is to cut the spaghetti squash in half length-wise.  This is a very difficult thing to do.  I really struggled with it.  Just use a very big knife, stick the knife in a little at a time all the way around until you can split it open.

1.  Just like you do a pumpkin, use a spoon and some elbow grease to clean out the seeds and stringy stuff from the middle of the squash.
Here's what it looks like before (left) and after (right) cleaning out the seeds and stringy stuff.

Alternate Method to Cutting the Squash

1.  Poke holes all over the squash.  You might use a grill fork or something large like that.
2.  Put whole squash in about 1/2" water in a pan.
3.  Heat oven to 375F and cook for about 30 minutes.
4.  VERY will be HOT...slice your squash open, clean out the seeds.
5.  Shred by scraping pulp (or whatever you call the main "meat" part of the squash) and pulling it up so it looks like strands of pasta.

2.  Put about 1/2" of water in a pan and lay the squash halves face down.
3.  Heat oven to 375F and cook for about 30 minutes.  You know it's done when you poke it with a fork and the outer skin is soft and pokes easily.
4.  In a pan, heat up the oil and put in onions.

5.  Put in red pepper flakes, thyme and some salt and pepper.  Stir it all up and cook onions until they are golden.

6.  After squash has cooked, remove the "spaghetti" from the center and put it in a bowl.

7.  Add onions to the squash and mix well.  I used a rubber scraper to make sure to get all that yummy goodness out of the pan and into the bowl.
8.  Add light sour cream and half the cheese (3/4 C) and mix it up well.

9.  Spray an 8" or 9" baking dish with pan spray.
10.  Put spaghetti squash mixture in pan.  Top with remaining cheese.
11.  Cook at 375F for 15-20 minutes, until top is golden.
This squash did not taste like squash to me at all.  I have finally found a way that I will love to eat spaghetti squash.  The pepper flakes give it just an undertone of kick.  I only used about 1/2 of an onion, and the onion flavor really came through.  It's very cheesy!  Yea for cheese! :)  And, honest to goodness, this really is an excellent substitute for au gratin potatoes.  If I didn't cook it myself, I might not have known initially that I was eating squash.  Truly.  I think I am going to make this for my family's Thanksgiving Day buffet.  I can guarantee it will go over well.  And it will be nice to have an alternative to the carb-laden mashed potatoes, as much as I love them though I will have to pass this year.  There will be enough carbs with the piece of pie I am going to allow myself, so I need to watch my carbs elsewhere during the dinner.

Tonight I served this with Honey Pecan Chicken and steamed broccoli.  It was phenom if you ask me.  It was a well-rounded, incredibly healthy and very satisfying meal.  The Spaghetti Squash Au Gratin even passed muster with the kids and hubby.  I will for sure be serving this again in my house.  I always struggle to find healthy, tasty side dishes.  Now I've got a great one.

I figured the calories and carbs per serving to be 1/8 of the pan, which is (imo) a generous serving.  The numbers are:  153.8 calories, 10.5g fat, 5.5g saturated fat, .9g polyunsaturated fat, 1.2g monounsaturated fat, 30mg cholesterol, 412.8mg sodium, 145.4mg potassium, ONLY 10g CARBS!, 1.6g fiber and 5.9g protein.  Are those great numbers or what?!? (4 Points Plus)

If you're looking for something healthy and delicious that can be as equally gratifying as potatoes without all those carbs, this is your answer.  And, I read some people like to make it more gourmet by using other cheeses like Gruyere. Some people add ham or bacon (but be sure to tack on those calories).  If you adjust this recipe and try a different ingredient or two, leave a comment here and let everyone know what you did and how it turned out.

Bon appetit!
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