Spaghetti Squash Primavera

Thursday, March 21, 2013

I remember the first time I ever ate spaghetti squash.  It was October 2007 and I was just beginning to climb out of the vast hole of sickness that had consumed me for the better part of three months.  Dayv had traveled down to Tennessee for his sister's wedding and I stayed behind, still afraid of a potential relapse of my mysterious illness.

My mom had recently picked up a spaghetti squash at the grocery store and explained to me that once it was cooked, resembled and could be eaten like spaghetti.  Considering the fact that I grew up loving spaghetti, but did not miss the way it made me feel afterwards, I was beyond excited at trying this pasta-like vegetable.   

My parents went out, but to where I can't remember.  I followed my mom's instructions on cooking the squash, and after it was done, scooped the entire noodly contents into a gigantic mixing bowl.  I topped it with sauteed vegetables and lots of tomato sauce.  It was my version of pasta primavera.  I sat at the computer desk, shoveling large spoonfuls into my mouth while simultaneously watching every possible youtube video I could find of a certain evolutionary biologist with the initials RD.  I felt like such a grown-up.

The other thing I remember?  I didn't really like my "pasta primavera".  The spaghetti squash was a little too al-dente and I piled so many crunchy vegetables on top that it was bit of a chore to eat.  But I ate the entire thing in one sitting because I was just proud that I had made it.  

I recently remembered this memory and had a strong desire to recreate my original recipe from five years ago.  This time, I cooked the spaghetti squash until it was tender and topped it with sauteed red onion, garlic, mushrooms, and olives, which were simmered in tomato sauce, and polenta croutons.  This time, I ate my spaghetti squash primavera and loved it, not only because I created it, but also because it was delicious. 


Notes: You have the option of either baking the polenta croutons or adding them to the vegetable saute.  Although I enjoy them both ways, when they are simmered in the tomato sauce they get perfectly soft and plump.  I also sometimes add chickpeas, which makes it a little heartier for a complete meal.  Leftovers are delicious in a casserole.  Simply layer spaghetti squash strands on the bottom of a casserole dish and top with the leftover sauce.  To reheat, bake in preheated oven to 400 for about 15-20 minutes.

Spaghetti Squash Primavera
serves three to four
1/2 c polenta
1 1/2 c water
pinch of salt
1 tbsp nutritional yeast(optional)

1 large spaghetti squash, cut in half with seeds removed
olive oil
1/2 large red onion, finely diced
2 c sliced baby bella mushrooms
16 black olives, sliced
1 c diced tomatoes
4-6 cloves of garlic, minced
homemade tomato sauce, or your favorite tomato sauce

Line an 8x8 casserole dish with parchment paper.  In a medium pot over medium high heat, combine polenta, water, and salt.  Once water begins to bubble, reduce heat to medium and continually stir.  Add in nutritional yeast when the polenta begins to "plop" and continue to stir until a very thick porridge is created.  Transfer to prepared casserole dish, smoothing the top.  Refrigerate for at least 2 hours.  After the polenta is firm, cut it into cubes, approximately the size of croutons.

Preheat oven to 400.  Place squash cut side down on a large casserole dish that is filled about 1/2" with water.  Poke several holes through the top and cover the dish(s) with aluminum foil.  Bake for 45 minutes.  Remove from oven until cooled enough to handle.  Using a fork, scrape out the insides of the squash, which will resemble strands of spaghetti.  

In a large cast iron skillet, saute onion in olive oil until lightly tender.  Add mushrooms and continue to saute until their moisture is released.  Add in olives, garlic, tomatoes, and cubed polenta*, and saute for an additional 3-5 minutes.  Reduce heat to low and add desired amount of tomato sauce.  Start with 1 1/2 cups and add more if desired.  Simmer until tomato sauce is warm.

To serve, equally divide squash on plates and top with desired amount of sauce.  Enjoy!

*If you want a crispier crouton, place on parchment lined baking sheet and bake in preheated oven for the last 10 minutes the squash in cooking.

42 comments:

  1. I remember the 1st time I made spaghetti squash too - I was so excited how it came out. And even now when I make it, i just think its so cool that a vegetable of all things, can resemble spaghetti! So cool!

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    1. i totally agree! i'm always amazed how great of an alternative to pasta it is!

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  2. I love love love spaghetti squash, you taste like pasta, but you are a vegetable! Whhhhat?! Also, love the polenta croutons!

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    1. thanks, lady! ME TOO on both accounts!

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  3. Ooh I love this idea of making polenta 'croutons' - so creative! I never liked the crunchy type of crouton anyway, so a chewier polenta version sounds much better to me :)
    This isn't what I would typically picture when I think of pasta primavera, but it definitely sounds good - this is the type of recipe that actually sounds more appropriate to make with spaghetti squash than regular spaghetti. And this reminds me that I haven't eaten a spaghetti squash all year - yikes!

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    1. i love soft polenta croutons! i hadn't had spaghetti squash all year until i started eating this. they're expensive when i have to get them at whole foods, that's why i delayed :/

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  4. Spaghetti squash in place of pasta is my favorite! I already have plans to make some this weekend :). Polenta croutons sound like an amazing addition!

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  5. I'm a huge fan of spaghetti squash--especially when paired with a fantastic sauce and cooked veggies. Love that food memory (and love RD of course)!

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  6. Oh gosh I remembermy first experience with spaghetti squash - I over cooked mine and it was total mush and watery....nothing like spaghetti everyone promised me it would look like- I need to perfect my spaghetti squash method...and those polenta croutons OMG!

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    1. it's a fine line between over and under cooking spaghetti squash. i have a difficult time with it, too!

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  7. I am so glad that you posted this. Recently, I have been on the look out for a good spaghetti squash recipe!

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    1. yay! i hope you try it, my sweet lady!

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  8. i love this primavera. no grain and still delicious! and i love the idea of polenta croutons. i never likes the overly tomatoey and same taste everywhere spaghetti i ate some years back. this fresh version is a must try!

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    1. i have to admit, i LOVE a lot of tomato sauce. luckily, this recipe is adaptable to how saucy you want it to be ;)

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  9. [ Smiles ] A great way to utilize spaghetti and squash!

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  10. ooh! i need to get on that spaghetti squash train!!

    those freeze dried strawberries from tj's are light and crunchy and sooo good!!

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  11. Polenta croutons!? Awesome! This looks amazing. I have one spaghetti squash left in the pantry to eat before spring. This is definitely going on my list. Love a hearty bowl of veggies!

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  12. Oh I have to find one of these spaghetti squashes! I love the idea of a pasta alternative, made of vegetable! I've heard of them but never tried one. It looks so lovely and the tomato-mushroom-onion-olive topping is exactly what I would put on top too!

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    1. you need to try it, lisa! i think you'll love it ;)

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  13. I love spaghetti squash too- and the idea of that casserole is speaking to me! I also love the polenta croutons. I haven't had polenta in ages, so I think I need to make these soon! :-)

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    1. i loved the casserole option, too. so easy ;)

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  14. We love spaghetti squash and this recipe looks so delicious!

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  15. This looks like an amazingly delicious and comforting meal. I enjoy making spaghetti squash pasta too. I'll have to try your version soon!

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  16. Oh, what a good idea to add polenta croutons to spaghetti squash. That sounds like a delicious pairing!

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  17. I love spaghetti squash! Your recipe sounds delicious:) It's great that you gave it a second try!

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  18. The first time I cooked spaghetti squash, it was less than a culinary masterpiece, too! Seems pretty common, huh? I sure wish I had this recipe years ago, but I'm happy enough to enjoy it now. The polenta croutons are simply an inspired addition.

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    1. i guess it is! takes a little tweaking before you get the right procedure down ;) thank you for stopping by, lady!

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  19. Just found you through bloglovin- I love your site! Your journey to a vegan/gluten free diet is very inspiring! Thanks for sharing it. Can't wait to read more! :)

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    1. thank you so much annie! i hope you enjoy!

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  20. Ha ha, like there would be leftovers. ;) But if there were, I love the idea of making them into a casserole! It took me a while to warm up to spaghetti squash, but now I can't get enough of it!

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    1. well, there were some leftovers since dayv didn't enjoy this with me(he isn't a fan of mushrooms or olives because he's a weirdo). the casserole was the perfect next day dinner ;)

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  21. being diabetic, this recipe is totally safe for me, even though the polenta is mostly carb i can leave that out ;)

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