GUEST BLOGGER: HEATHER
Winter is approaching quickly and that means two things: I crave comfort food and I drink more red wine! I created this recipe to help lighten up my favorite spaghetti Bolognese.
There have been a lot of new recipes out there featuring vegetables as pasta replacements. Anyone who tells you it tastes like pasta is lying to you. It doesn’t. It tastes like you’re eating vegetables pretending to be something they are most certainly not.
In the spirit of honesty, I am going to say upfront, no, it does not taste exactly like pasta. My Bolognese sauce served with spaghetti squash was not created to torture you but to broaden your horizons. If this recipe makes you cringe, by all means please swap out pasta for the squash. If you’re not instantly terrified to try it, please do. It actually tastes good. (Honestly).
What’s so good about spaghetti squash? Its high in iron and other essential vitamins to the recipe while; being low in carbs. More importantly though, half of the squash is equivalent to about 2-3 cups of “spaghetti”. It’s filling, tastes slightly sweet and has a great texture. Don’t take my word for it, try it!
For those who don’t know, Bolognese is essentially a meat sauce served over pasta. One of the most important flavor components to my sauce is, wait for it, the wine!
While in culinary school, I learned some very important lessons. The one that stands out the most is, ‘a broom has a handle for a reason Heather,’ the second most memorable is that you should never, ever, cook with wine you wouldn’t drink. Off flavors in wine are reduced and concentrated and that off flavor is transferred to your meal. Skip the cooking wine and remember this, drinking wine is cooking wine.
Open a bottle of something good and get saucy!
Heather’s Bolognaise with Spaghetti Squash
- 2 whole unpeeled spaghetti squash- cut into four equal halves and empty out the seeds
- 1 pound of ground bison or free range organic lean beef
- 1 10 oz can of petite diced tomatoes (with their juice)
- 1-small can of tomato paste
- 1 medium sweet onion ½ cup –diced small (or grated)
- ½ cup small diced carrots
- ½ cup small diced celery
- 2/3-3/4cup of your FAVORITE dry red wine (and more for your glass)
- Salt to taste
- ¼ cup good quality olive oil
- Pepper to taste
- Freshly grated parmesan cheese
Cut each squash in half widthwise to makea total of four “bowls”. Empty out the seeds and coat lightly with olive oil and salt. Bake at 400 for 30 minutes inverted on a lightly oiled pan. This will naturally steam the squash without need of any water.
Brown the beef and drain off the fat. Add in the diced or grated onion, celery, and carrots. Cook on medium heat to slightly brown the veggies with the beef. When soft about a minute or two add in the tomato paste. Add the paste and allow it to caramelize for about 2 minutes stirring on medium heat. Do not leave this alone or it will burn. Deglaze the pan with the red wine and stir getting the fond (cooked bits) off of the bottom of the pan. These bits have the most flavor. Then add in the can of diced tomatoes with the liquid. Have these ingredients ready to go before adding the tomato paste. The paste can burn quickly, even on low heat.
Stir the sauce and let cook on low for 15 minutes at least until the carrots are soft. The longer the better just be mindful that cooking with the lid off will thicken the sauce. If you find the sauce too thick you can add a little water (or wine) to thin it (trust me). Just be sure to cook off the alcohol in the wine (takes a few minutes depending on how much you added). Before serving make sure to taste it and add salt to your preference.
This sauce is thicker than I would make for wheat pasta. This is because the spaghetti squash adds its own moisture.
When the sauce is ready, take the squash out of the oven and flip them over. They should be mostly cooked and the “spaghetti” should come away from the sides when you scrape the sides with a fork. Scrape sides gently loosening the spaghetti slightly. Fill with sauce and leave about ½ inch from the top of the squash. Grate fresh parmesan cheese on top and place back in oven for an additional 10 minutes. A flat bottom is key at this point.
Serve the squash half as it is in a bowl with additional parmesan cheese and sauce. To eat scrape the sides loosening the spaghetti and stir it with the sauce. If you prefer to present it more like traditional pasta, scrape the cooked spaghetti and sauce into a large bowl, mix and serve with extra sauce on the side.
- Veggie pasta-fobic- If the thought of squash makes you cringe and you’ve decided to try this with wheat pasta, add a small can of tomato paste (1/4 cup) and 3/4cup of water until it’s reached the desired thickness. Add additional salt and pepper to taste. This will make the sauce more saucy which will help it stick to the wheat pasta better.
- Meat free Monday- Swap out the meat for prepared quinoa (about 1 ½ cups) or veggie protein. Follow the rest of the recipe and enjoy!