Spaghetti Squash with Spicy Meat Sauce

I knew we had a good cookbook on our hand when we quickly tried two recipes after purchasing A Harvest of Pumpkins and Squash in fall 2011. We loved Orzo with Yellow Squash, Leeks, and Sun-dried tomatoes and Butternut Squash-Pear Bisque. Recently I decided to revisit the cookbook and browse through it for another wonderful recipe. I found one with spaghetti squash!

Patrick and I made a few changes to the recipe. We were a little confused by the title and wondering why it was called "spicy" when there didn't seem to be anything with much heat in it. But then we realized they meant spice-spicy. Mixed pickling spices and a cinnamon stick are to be simmered in the sauce but we decided to swap in herbs (specifically rosemary) instead*. There were a few other slight alterations noted below.

Spaghetti Squash with Spicy Meat Sauce from A Harvest of Pumpkins & Squash: Seasonal Recipes by Lou Seibert Pappas

Greek Meat Sauce
2 tbsp olive oil
1 large onion, chopped
1 1/2 lbs ground beef or turkey (I only used a pound)
1 cup water
1 1/2 cans (9 oz) tomato paste (I only used 1 can)
2 tbsp red wine vinegar
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 tsp salt
freshly ground pepper to taste
1 tsp whole mixed pickling spice*
1/2 stick cinnamon*

1 large spaghetti squash
1/4 tsp salt
1/2 tsp freshly ground black pepper
4 tbsp (1/2 stick) unsalted butter
1 avocado, pitted, peeled, and diced
12 cherry tomatoes, halved
1/2 cup fresh Parmesan or Pecorino Romano cheese shavings
2 tbsp chopped fresh parsley

To make the Greek Meat Sauce, in a large saucepan, heat 1 tablespoon of the oil over medium heat. Add the onion and saute until translucent, about 5 minutes. Transfer the onion to a plate, leaving the oil in the pan. Brown the meat in the reserved oil over medium-high heat, stirring to break it up into even crumbles. Return the onion to the pan. Add the water, tomato paste, vinegar, garlic, salt, and pepper. Tie the pickling spice and cinnamon stick in a small piece of cheesecloth and add to the stew* (we put a sprig of rosemary in the sauce instead of the pickling spice and cinnamon). Reduce the heat to low, cover, and simmer for 1 hour, stirring occasionally and adding additional water if it threatens to scorch. Discard the cheesecloth.

Preheat the oven to 350F. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper. Cut the squash in half lengthwise and scoop out the seeds. Place the squash, cut side down, on the prepared pan. Bake until the flesh can be easily scraped into strands with a fork, 50 to 70 minutes. Remove from the oven and let cool slightly. Using a fork, scoop out all the flesh into a bowl and fluff the spaghetti-like strands. Toss in the salt and pepper. Place on a large, warmed platter or the cleaned squash shell.

The next time we roast spaghetti squash we plan to do it cut side up. By roasting cut side down the spaghetti squash retained a lot of moisture in the squash flesh which made our spaghetti a little soupy.

Melt the butter in a small saucepan over medium heat and cook until it turns light brown. Pour over the squash strands. Toss with the fork to blend. (We omitted this step.) Top the squash with the hot meat sauce. Scatter the avocado and tomatoes over and sprinkle with the cheese and parsley. Serve immediately.

There were a lot of interesting flavors in this dish. For example, topping the meat sauce with avocado was unusual but we liked it. We really enjoyed this!

1 comment:

  1. I like all these ingredients. Yes, avocado is an interesting addition.