Well, hello 2013! I can't believe January is already here. It's seems like just yesterday I was enjoying that decadent Crack Pie with Speculoos at Thanksgiving. December was a crazy whirlwind of a month (isn't it always?), filled with the typical gluttony that comes with the holiday season. Although I enjoy me some holiday gluttony, Asheley and I are now trying to recalibrate our systems a bit and start off this New Year with a little kind-of food cleanse. We are on Day 7 out of 10 as of right now. And I'm not going to lie, it's been tough. Although we can eat unlimited fruits, veggies, legumes, and whole grains, there is no meat, dairy, or bread allowed. It's really showing us how much we are addicted to those foods (Asheley is currently in withdrawal, desperately wanting to dig into the box of Trader Joe's dark chocolate stars we have stashed away under our coffee table).
I've had fun the last couple of days trying to find recipes and think of ways to still eat delicious food, even with all these restrictions. I came across and slightly adapted this delicious recipe for spaghetti squash from a really awesome food blog I just recently discovered: Two Peas and Their Pod. Although I still miss my no-good-for-me regular old pasta, this spaghetti squash made for a really healthy and deliciously flavorful meal.
Elise, our good friend and Asheley's maid-of-honor, was just over today and I made this spaghetti squash for all of us. She is a bit of a health nut and this recipe was right up her alley. She absolutely loved it, and I think you will too. Here's how you do it. Start off by roasting some red bell peppers... three large or four small peppers will work. Brush the peppers with a little bit of olive oil and place in the oven with the broiler on low.
Watch before your eyes as the pepper skins begin to char with blackened spots. Rotate the peppers with a pair of tongs until the peppers show signs of charring all over, about 10 - 15 minutes. Remove the peppers from the oven and place in a bowl, covered with plastic wrap. The peppers will steam and the skins will loosen. 10 minutes later, remove the skins and seeds from your roasted peppers. Give them a rough chop.
Meanwhile, you can start on the sauce. Heat about a tablespoon of olive oil on medium heat. Add in a diced large red onion, season with Kosher salt and a pinch of red pepper flakes, and sauté until softened and beginning to caramelize, about 5-7 minutes. Add in 3 cloves of minced garlic and cook for about another minute.
Add in the chopped roasted peppers and a 28-ounce can of diced tomatoes, along with a ½ teaspoon each of dried oregano and basil. Season with some Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper, and simmer for around 15 minutes. Let the sauce cool a bit, then pour into a food processor or blender, add a splash of sherry vinegar, and purée until smooth. The original recipe calls for greek yogurt, not sherry vinegar, but dairy is a no-no on our current cleanse. The splash of vinegar added a little more acidity and depth of flavor to the sauce which was really welcomed, but feel free to make yours creamy with some plain greek yogurt instead. Return to the pan and keep the sauce warm over low heat until your spaghetti squash is ready.
Speaking of... meet Spaghetti Squash. Once the red peppers were done roasting in the oven, you can start on the squash. It's really a piece of cake to prepare.
Cut it in half using a sharp knife (it's kind of a pain to cut in half), and using a spoon or ice cream scoop, remove the seeds and other stringy guts.
Brush it lightly with olive oil and sprinkle with some Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper. Place it cut sides down on a baking sheet and pop it into a 400°F oven. About 45-60 minutes later (could be more or less depending upon the size of your squash), it'll be a beautiful golden-yellow tender spaghetti squash:
Take your fork to it and scrape a little of the flesh. If the strands come off easily, it's done (give it a little more cooking time if not). Let the cooked spaghetti squash cool for about 5 minutes, then scrape all the flesh into a beautiful pile of spaghetti strands. Taste and season with some more Kosher salt and pepper if needed.
When ready to serve, I would definitely top with a little fresh basil. It really made the dish sing.
Spaghetti that's actually good for you. Who knew?!