I love squash! I love the varieties it comes in, I love winter squashes that you harvest in fall and can store through the winter, I love summer squash on the grill, I love it all (not to mention that pumpkins are one of my favorite foods).
One variety I am particularly fond of is the spaghetti squash. It's sort of an oblong yellow winter squash (a harder shell) that you can find in most grocery stores. Inside it has a yellow flesh, that when cooked comes out in strings that retain a certain amount of bite, or crunch. It's pretty easy to cook (most squashes are). Cut it in half, lengthwise, remove all the seeds and then place cut side down in a baking dish. You can add about 1/4 inch of water to the dish and then cook it in a 375 degree oven for about 45-60 minutes. The flesh will give easily to a fork when it is cooked.
Once it cooks, let it cool for a bit or use a pot holder to hold the squash and then use a fork to scrape the flesh out of the shells. You want it to be stringy. It ends up looking like, well, spaghetti. I like it with a dab of butter and some salt. Yum! Of course given the name you can also treat it like spaghetti and add some sauce.
Spaghetti sauce is not something I am fond of. Never have been. My daughter and husband however eat it like it's going out of style, and my daughter will pretty much eat anything if it's doused in spaghetti sauce first. As the main grocery shopper in our household, I really do not like buying spaghetti sauce at the store. It can be pricey (it's just cooked tomatoes for goodness' sake) and it's hard to find brands that don't have added sugars or some other additive in them. Why does spaghetti sauce need sugar?
So I make my own. It's easy, really. First I apologize to anyone who is Italian out there or who knows how to cook Italian food. I am not Italian, and as I mentioned before I don't really like the stuff, so this recipe is not a take all day spaghetti sauce. I am sure there are fabulous recipes out there that result in the most amazing sauce ever. The goal of this recipe though is to be quick, easy and nutritious.
Start with whatever veggies you have on hand; bell peppers, mushrooms, onions, zucchini, beans, whatever (the more vegetables and variety you use the more end up in the sauce and the more you and your family will be eating-sneaky huh?). Puree them in a blender or food processor. Amounts are not important. If you want a chunkier sauce, leave the veggies slightly chunky. Heat some oil in a sauce pot and add the veggie puree. Add some chopped garlic (garlic powder works too), and season with salt, pepper, oregano, basil, thyme, etc. Use fresh or dried spices, and use whatever combo you like. Let the veggies cook for a couple of minutes. Then add some tomatoes. Canned diced or crushed or freshly chopped. Again use what texture you want. Crushed will be a smoother sauce, diced or fresh will be chunkier. Fresh tomatoes will be fresher tasting obviously, and if you have the time grilled or roasted tomatoes would be yummy too. Cook for about 5 minutes more to let the flavors blend.
Use the sauce to top whatever you like. I used mine to top our spaghetti squash last night. It was pretty basic with red peppers, onions, crushed tomatoes and some spices. I added some baby spinach at the end so it just wilted. If I had had some garbanzo or cannelini beans on hand I would have added those. The result was this:
It was yummy, and both toddler and husband approved. A great way to get a kid to eat some vegetables. Spaghetti squash is a fun kid food, and of course spaghetti sauce is a classic. If you make your own sauce you'll know exactly what's in it, and there won't be any added sugars or other stuff, and you can throw in some extra veggies that your kids won't know about. It only takes a few minutes, it's way better for you, and in the long run, it's cheaper!