I’ve talked about this before, but when I was a kid we ate spaghetti regularly, easily 3 nights per week. To this day, neither my brother or I can stand it. So why did I make a Paleo version? Well, because it is nothing like what I ate when I was a kid. The tasteless pasta was replaced with spaghetti squash (and there’s alwaysleftover spaghetti squash for me to use for breakfast), and the marinara sauce is replaced with a butternut squash sauce. The seasonings are similar, but that’s where it ends. Plus, I kick it up a notch with some chili powder (gosh, I sound a little like Emeril!).
If you’ve ever tried to work with a spaghetti squash, you know what a little beeotch it can be. The bigger they are, the more difficult they are to work with. The skins are so tough it’s very challenging to cut those little suckers open short of taking it outside and whacking it with a machete. Since I don’t own a machete (and haven’t tested this as an effective method) I learned about another way to make these puppies a little easier to work with. Poke holes in the skin all over with a fork then microwave for 5 minutes, then proceed with cutting off the stem, halving it and scooping out the seeds. So simple. Keep in mind, because the squash is now softer, it’s not going to need to bake as long.
Speaking of microwaving spaghetti squash, I believe it falls under the Cardinal Sins of Cooking. Please, I beg you, don’t ever microwave your spaghetti squash to cook it. Unless, of course, you like eating mush. Then by all means, proceed. But if you like eating spaghetti squash because it’s yummy, only microwave it long enough (while it’s whole) to make it easier to cut.
Begin rant: If you know I am not a morning person (and I’m soooooo not), why do you insist on following me around like a puppy dog? It’s bad enough I don’t want to be social before 10am, but when you follow me around, talking at me (note: not to me or with me, at me), interrupting me every time I open my mouth, things are not going to bode well for either of us. End rant.
I am really excited for the weekend, though. The BF and I are finally going to go camping. I made the mistake of looking at the forecast and we’re supposed to get rain on Sunday and Monday, but this is Utah. If you don’t like the weather, just wait five minutes and it will change. So at this point I’m not overly concerned about the weather. The only thing worrying me is food. We’ll be in the desert for four days and the ice is only going to last so long. I’ve never gone camping while simultaneously being concerned about healthy eating, so I’m playing this one by ear. Big time. So much to do and so little time left to do it. But the important thing is that I’m going to be away from the world with my favorite person for four whole days. Life truly does not get any better than that.
1 large spaghetti squash
Drizzle olive oil
Sea salt & ground black pepper
4 cups cooked butternut squash (about 1 small squash)
1⁄2 roasted red pepper*
1 tsp basil
1 tsp oregano
1 T. chili powder
1 T. honey
1 T. apple cider vinegar
1 T. nutritional yeast
Sea salt & black pepper to taste
Water as needed
1 T. olive oil
1 onion, diced
1 bell pepper, diced
4 chicken breasts, chopped into bite sized pieces
8-10 baby bella mushrooms, sliced
Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Poke holes in spaghetti squash and microwave for 5 minutes. Cut off stem, then slice in half lengthwise. Remove seeds and place squash cut side up in a large baking dish. Drizzle with olive oil and sprinkle with salt and pepper. Pour about a half inch of water in the baking dish to prevent squash from burning. Bake for 40 minutes or until tender and shreds easily with a fork.
Put all ingredients except water in a blender. Puree until very smooth, adding a little water as needed to get the sauce moving (I use reserved cooking water). Set aside. Drizzle olive oil in a large pot. Add onion and pepper, and cook until very soft and starting to caramelize. Add chicken breast and cook until almost no pink is remaining. Stir in mushrooms and continue cooking until mushrooms are soft and chicken is no longer pink. Drain any excess liquid from the chicken. Stir sauce into chicken mixture and keep warm. When squash is finished cooking, remove from oven and let cool slightly, then shred with a fork. Transfer squash to a serving bowl.
Top squash with chicken mixture and garnish with sliced green onions, if desired.