Have you ever have those nights where you’re in the grocery store (because you needed to do at least one productive thing that day), and you decide in keeping with your otherwise unproductive day, you’ll make something easy for dinner … like frozen pizza … or green giant pasta … or picking up a spaghetti squash and making spaghetti alfredo?
Yeah. I’m fairly sure the thought process went along the lines of “mmmm, easy food … but easy food has so many bad things in it and tastes so terrible … mmmmm, spaghetti squash alfredo …”. Something like that.
For those of you who have never had it, spaghetti squash is one of the most fun vegetables ever. On the outside, it looks like a regular squash. Then magically, when you roast it and cut it open, it naturally shreds into spaghetti-sized pieces. It gives a whole new meaning to playing with your food. And it opens up so many possibilities, because you can use it everywhere in place of pasta.
Diabetes means pasta and I have always had a tumultuous relationship. Tumultuous in that pasta is usually delicious, but it requires so much insulin to eat and stays in your system for so long, elevating your blood sugars, that it’s not usually worth it to order. I say order, because for the same reason, I usually don’t make it at home or have it on hand. Plus, you know, carbs and healthy diets and what-have-you. Really, that’s secondary, and my issue with pasta has always been what it does to my blood sugars.
So pasta replacements? My best friends. However, like when you replace anything and try to replicate the original, something is going to come up short. First of all, as a vegetable, spaghetti squash is very very wet. When you roast it, there will be a lot of moisture in the strands. This means that when you add sauce to it, it can get very liquid-y. Additionally, because of the moisture, sauce doesn’t stick to the strands nearly as well as it does to pasta noodles. Finally, spaghetti squash is a food in its own right – it is a squash – and so it also tastes like a squash. These are just things you have to factor in when you make something with this vegetable.
On its own, I don’t love the taste of spaghetti squash. I like to mask it with things, like cheese and butter and milk in an alfredo sauce. I used this recipe, though I’m not sure it’s the best – I found that the sauce was very runny. Admittedly, this could have also been a result of me not having any cream cheese, and using cottage cheese instead – turns out, these were not interchangeable items. Next time, I intend to add more flour to the sauce after adding the milk, to allow it to thicken. I will let you know if this results in a better sauce. Until that point, you can really use whatever alfredo sauce you like, or follow the recipe and adjust accordingly and let me know how it turns out.
I also used asiago cheese and frozen peas. I really think that all meals should include something green (unless it’s breakfast, and then I’m willing to state it should just include some form of fruit or vegetable). Peas go very well with alfredo sauce. Or really, I just think you can’t go wrong with peas.
So here’s my adapted recipe. It is very, very similar to the original, and so I take no credit for it.
Spaghetti Squash Alfredo with Peas
1 spaghetti squash
3 cloves of garlic, minced into tiny pieces
2 cups fresh or frozen peas
1 Tbsp butter
4 Tbsp flour
1 cup milk
1 cup grated Parmesan/Asiago/similar cheese, plus some more for sprinkling on top before broiling
salt and pepper to taste
For the squash:
- Preheat your oven to 350 degrees F.
- Stab your spaghetti squash a few times all over, so that the steam/heat can escape while roasting. Put your stabbed squash on a roasting tray.
- Roast your spaghetti squash in the oven for 1 hour.
- Do something else in the meantime (like clean up all those dishes in the kitchen that you probably should have got to before you started cooking).
- Remove the squash from the oven and leave it for 15-20 minutes until cool enough to handle.
- Slice the squash in half and scoop out the seeds. Be careful not to scoop out too much of the actual squash on the inside.
- “Grate” the squash with a fork. It should easily come apart into spaghetti-style strands.
- Put the strands in a vegetable strainer in your sink to let some of the moisture drain out while you prepare the sauce.
For the peas:
- Put a pot of water on the stove to boil. (I did this after I took the squash out of the oven.)
- Pour in all your peas.
- Wait until they come to a boil.
- Remove from heat and drain the water from the peas.
- Set aside.
For the sauce:
- Melt the butter in a smallish saucepan on the stove.
- Add the garlic, and stir for 1-2 minutes. Don’t leave it, or the garlic might burn.
- Add 2 Tbsp of flour and whisk until the flour disappears. However, if your sauce turned out like mine, the butter will be disproportionate to the flour, and everything will become dry on your stove. If this is the case, add the milk immediately and whisk for 1-2 minutes until the flour has dissolved.
- Add the remaining 2 Tbsp of flour and whisk to create a thicker sauce. Add it slowly to adjust the consistency to your liking.
- Add the cream cheese, if you have it on hand.
- Heat the sauce until it is creamy and warmed through, but not boiling – boiling milk is a bad idea. Stir frequently.
- Remove from heat and add the 1 cup of cheese and salt and pepper to taste. Mix.
- Pour everything into a bowl and mix so that your peas and squash are evenly mixed together, and so the sauce covers all of the squash and peas.
- Transfer to a oven-safe dish.
- Top with the remaining cheese.
- Put the dish under the broiler for 2-3 minutes, or until the cheese is bubbling and browning.
- Remove and enjoy.
effort: some. the sauce requires a bit of focus. however, there is no way to *really* screw up cheese and milk and butter and garlic, so not too bad.
time: the squash takes an hour to roast, and then another 15-20 minutes to cool. Once that’s done, the rest of the prep takes about ten minutes, including grating the cheese.
servings: with a regular-sized squash, 5-6 portions.
cost: dairy’s always expensive. The squash is cheap, peas are cheap. Cheese is not, and this requires two, plus milk.
season: spaghetti squash is in season from early fall through winter, and with frozen peas it is definitely a winter meal.
casualties: hmmmm … well, I suppose the failed sauce is sort of a casualty. Let’s call it “wounded in action” and leave it at that.