August 15, 2012

Spaghetti Squash with Creamy Spinach Sauce

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Years ago I knew a chef who made the most incredible mouth watering sauce with cooked spinach, heavy cream, and loads of parmigiano reggiano. It was delectable and decadent. I would not dream of going near it today, but that does not mean that it would be impossible to mimic with healthier ingredients. I recreated it with great success by taking many of the principles of a pesto recipe with the addition of ingredients like avocado, almond milk, and nutritional yeast to make it creamy and flavorful without the cholesterol, dairy, and fat. It is pictured here tossed with baked spaghetti squash and fresh cherry tomatoes. If spaghetti squash is not to your liking, toss it with gluten-free pasta or a pasta of your choice. It would also be delicious as a spread for sandwiches or crostini. 

Made with spaghetti squash, this dish is loaded with A list power foods. The main ingredients are rich in vitamins, minerals, and cancer fighting properties as well as being anti inflammatory, high in dietary fiber, and low in calories. Here is a list of the key ingredients used and some of their note worthy qualities.

Almonds - protein, dietary fiber, calcium, magnesium, potassium, vitamin E, antioxidants and phytochemicals

Avocado - vitamin E, folate, lutein, oleic acid

Nutritional Yeast - complete protein, B-complex vitamins, some brands fortified with vitamin B-12

Spaghetti Squash - vitamins C, A, B-6, thiamin, riboflavin, niacin, folate, and pantothenic acid, and manganese

Spinach - vitamins A and K, manganese, folate, magnesium, dietary fiber, calcium, protein, and flavonoids

Tomatoes - vitamin C, A, and K, manganese, potassium, dietary fiber, and most of all, lycopene

Spinach Sauce
2-3 cups
For all ingredients, please use those that are organic or grown without pesticides.
 
10 ounces raw spinach leaves
1/2 cup raw almonds
1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
1/3 cup almond or coconut milk, unsweetened
1 clove garlic, peeled
2 tablespoons chives
2 tablespoons parsley leaves
1/4 avocado
1 tablespoon freshly squeezed lemon juice
2 tablespoons nutritional yeast
1/2 teaspoon sea salt
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground nutmeg
To serve: cherry tomatoes, halved
  toasted pine nuts
  ground brazil nuts
 
Variation:
Try replacing about 4 ounces of the spinach with fresh basil and mint.
Put all of the ingredients in the work bowl of a blender or food processor fitted with a metal blade. Blend or process the ingredients until they are smooth. If using a food processor the result will be less smooth than what is pictured here.
Taste for seasonings. Think about a balance of salt, tang, spice, and creaminess. Adjust to your liking.
Refrigerate until ready to use.
If serving with pasta or spaghetti squash, bring a portion of the sauce to room temperature or mix with about 2-3 tablespoons of pasta water, hot water, or warmed almond milk to warm the sauce.
Toss the sauce with the cooked squash or noodles and serve immediately.
Topping the dish with fresh halved cherry tomatoes, toasted pine nuts, or ground brazil nuts at the end makes for a delicious and colorful addition.
 
Baked Spaghetti Squash
1 spaghetti squash
2/3 cup water
 
Preheat the oven to 400 F.
Use a large heavy knife to cut the squash in half. The skin is very tough to cut through and the squash is hard so it will be easier to cut it across the narrow part of the squash instead of lengthwise. This way it will also fit better in a baking dish.
Put each half of the cut squash, cut side down, in a baking dish. Add the water and cover with aluminum foil.
Bake for 1 hour until the squash is cooked through. It should be tender, but not soft. Depending on the size of the squash, an extra 20-30 minutes of cooking time might be necessary.
Remove from the over and allow to cool for about 15 minutes or until it is cool enough to handle. Use a spoon to scoop out the center portion and the seeds. Discard.
Once the centers have been cleaned out, use a fork to scrape out the flesh of the squash. As you scrape the squash, it will form spaghetti like noodles. If you scoop the flesh out all at once, it will not be as easy to develop this unique character that gives the squash its name.
Reserve until ready to use.
Serve with the spinach sauce pictured here or your favorite sort of pasta accompaniment.

 

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Categories: Dressings & Sauces, Gluten Free, Vegan Entrees, Vegetables
 

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