Since I can remember, every Sunday my family has enjoyed pasta with homemade gravy. Sunday is a family day and goes hand-in-hand with some variation of pasta with red sauce (must be red); puttanesca, shrimp fra diavolo, red clam sauce, bolognese are just a few of my family's favorites.
As a 'Pescatarean' and on a low-carb/low-budget kick, I have decided to put a little spin on a summer 'pasta' dish -- Spaghetti Squash with Chunky Summer Vegetable Sauce. Spaghetti squash makes for a great pasta substitute. It is extremely easy to prepare, has a delicious, earthy flavor and is totally satisfying when craving that authentic Italian taste.
Spaghetti squash can be cooked several ways; it can be baked, boiled, microwaved or even cooked in a crockpot. When it is raw, its flesh is solid. However, when cooked the flesh comes out in ribbons resembling that of spaghetti, hence forth the name of this amazing vegetable. Although I don't ever recommend cooking food in a microwave, spaghetti squash serves as one of the few exceptions; it comes out perfect every single time.
How to cook spaghetti squash:
You will need a big knife and strong muscles :)
Cut the squash in half lengthwise. Place both halves in a microwave safe dish cut-side up with about a half-inch of water. Cover with plastic wrap. Cook on medium for about 10-15 minutes. Depending on the size of the squash, the time may vary. It will be done when you press the squash and it 'gives' a bit. I prefer mine al dente, so I tend to cook it for less. When it is cool enough to handle, scoop out the seeds and discard. Hold one half in your palm and with a fork scrape out the flesh. Set aside in a serving bowl.
Chunky Vegetable Sauce:
2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
3 garlic cloves, minced
2 shallots, finely chopped
1/2 medium sized eggplant OR 1 small eggplant, cubed
1 zucchini, sliced about 1/4" thick and cut into half moons
6 mushrooms, sliced
(1) 28 ounce can crushed tomatoes
Parmesan Cheese (optional)
Crushed red pepper flakes (optional)
In a medium saucepan add olive oil on medium-high heat. Add shallots and saute for 3-5 minutes or until they become translucent. Add garlic and saute for another 5 minutes. DO NOT burn garlic. Add zucchini, eggplant and mushrooms to mixture and saute for about 5 minutes to get the flavors working together. At this point, add the can of crushed tomatoes. This is usually too thick for my liking, so I fill the empty can of crushed tomatoes about a 1/4 of the way with water and add to the sauce. Season with salt and pepper. Simmer for about 30 minutes. The veggies will cook thoroughly during this time.
Spoon sauce over the spaghetti squash and serve immediately. Garnish with parmesan cheese and crushed red pepper flakes (both optional).