By Erin Walgamuth
We are like a lot of families in Santa Clarita in that our daughter is involved in sports and also has a tutor session once a week. Consequently, two evenings a week or more during golf season, dinner time can be a bit hectic. One of the meals I like to make during the school year is Spaghetti Squash with some type of sauce.
An added bonus of this squash is that it is chock full of vitamin C, B vitamins, magnesium, potassium, iron and vitamin E. I usually cook the squash and make the sauce ahead of time, then warm it all before serving. No matter what time we get home there is a healthy delicious dinner waiting for us.
We had left-over sauce last night, so I added the remaining marinara plus a bit of chicken broth, made pasta, made salad and prestochango…a second dinner! If you have left-over sauce it could also be used to make Sloppy Joes or tacos. Although my daughter was visibly appalled at the mere suggestion of eggplant in her tacos…oh well, I would have gone for it.
This dinner cost about $10.00 and was enough to make two dinners for three people.
Spaghetti squash can be difficult to cut just like any other winter squash, so use a sharp knife. The smaller the squash the easier it will be to cut.
The spaghetti squash I cooked weighed just under 3 pounds and cost $3.66. I cut off the stem, cut it into thirds, then removed the stringy matter and seeds with a spoon. If you are feeding four people you could cut the squash into quarters, or buy two squash and cut each one in half. I baked the squash in the oven for 45 minutes. I have not micro waved it myself, but know that you can as that is the method my sister-in-law uses. I believe she microwaves 8 minutes per squash or until tender when pierced with a sharp fork.
Spaghetti Squash with Vegetable and Ground Turkey Sauce
Prepare squash as described above. Place cut side down in a glass baking dish. Cover tightly with foil and cook in a 375 degree oven for about 45 minutes or until tender when pierced with a sharp fork. Make sauce while squash is cooking.
3 tablespoons Extra Virgin Olive Oil
2 garlic cloves finely minced or use a garlic press
Small brown onion, peeled, stem ends removed, coarsely chopped
1 small zucchini, stem ends removed, sliced down the middle length wise, coarsely chopped into small pieces
1 small Japanese eggplant, stem ends removed, sliced down the middle length wise, coarsely chopped into small pieces
5 pinches of salt or to taste
½ teaspoon dried oregano, divided
1 ¼ pounds ground turkey
½ jar of your favorite pasta sauce or marinara sauce, about 13 oz.
Italian parsley, coarsely chopped for garnish
Put 2 tablespoons of olive oil and garlic in a 12” sauté pan, let sit while you prep your ingredients. Heat garlic and olive oil on medium-low heat and stir garlic for about 1 minute. Add the onion, 1 pinch of salt and half of the dried oregano. Increase heat to medium and cook onions until they are soft and starting to brown, about 4-5 minutes. Add eggplant, ¼ teaspoon of oregano, 1 pinch of salt and cook, stirring often for another 2 minutes. Add the zucchini and 1 pinch of salt and cook until the vegetables are tender (zucchini may still be a bit firm), approximately 4 minutes. Remove cooked vegetables from pan and place in a glass bowl to hold.
Put 1 tablespoon of olive oil in same sauté pan. Scrape up any browned bits to incorporate then add ground turkey. Turn heat on to medium and break up turkey with a spatula, sprinkle 2 pinches of salt over turkey and continue to break up turkey as you cook. When turkey is almost cooked through add vegetables to the pan and stir to combine. Add ½ jar of sauce, stir to combine. Put a lid on pan, turn heat down to low and let sauce simmer for 5 minutes or until zucchini is tender. Add more salt if needed.
Put squash on plates and scrape flesh with a fork to achieve spaghetti texture. Ladle sauce over squash, sprinkle with parmesan and finish with chopped parsley. You can also remove squash flesh from rind and place on a plate to top with sauce if you like.
Erin Walgamuth has been an assistant Food Stylist for television and print for the past 26 years and writes this column using her own recipes. Check out her other creations in our Hometown Recipe section.