Thursday, May 1, 2014

Spaghetti Squash "Spaghetti"

When I was little, we had Italian night probably once a week. My sister and I LOVED spaghetti. And I know my mom didn't mind cooking it because it was such an easy process. Brown the meat, heat a jar of sauce, and then boil some pasta. We ate it until we looked like we were carrying little Italian babies in our bellies (I say Italian because that's what we were eating. If it had been Chinese food, it would have been a Chinese baby. Get it?). Man did we love to eat! Fast forward to when my husband and I started dating and imagine my devastation when I found out he wasn't a huge spaghetti fan! Whhhaaattt?! NO! Who doesn't like spaghetti? Well, it turns out that he isn't a huge marinara fan because as a kid, his mom would make his plate of spaghetti and she would always put way to much for his liking. In those days, he didn't have a choice, except to eat it. Then it would give him heartburn from all of the acidity. Poor guy. I can sympathize with the association of heartburn and marinara sauce, but still, not having spaghetti in my life was just not an option. I set out to create my own version that was thick and hearty. I think this meat and veggie sauce is a great way to have your protein and veggies in one pot. I love adding all kinds of vegetables, but you could stick to just your favorites. The final transition I made with this meal was moving away from real pasta. I heard about spaghetti squash a few years ago. I didn't know it even existed, but there it was, beautiful, bright, and yellow next to all of the other squashes in the store. The first few times I made it, I boiled it in water, which is fine, but you'll end up with watery "noodles." Instead, I recommend baking it. It takes a little longer, but the payout is not having soupy "spaghetti" on your plate. Unless that's your preference. Then go for it! So here it is, Paleo spaghetti. Enjoy!

Spaghetti Squash "Spaghetti"

Prep Time: 15 minutes
Cook Time: 1 hour
Total Time: 1 hour 15 minutes
Serves: 4-5

Special Tools:
1 foil lined baking sheet
1 large pot

1 large spaghetti squash
1/2 tsp of garlic salt
1 lb of grass-fed ground beef
1 tbsp of bacon fat (or fat of your choice)
2 large garlic cloves, minced
1 tsp of sea salt, divided
1 and 1/2 tbsp of Italian seasoning, divided
1 tbsp of dried basil, divided
1 medium onion, diced
1 medium green bell pepper, diced
6 oz package of baby bella mushrooms
Other veggies I like to add: 1 large diced carrot, 1 chopped zucchini, 5-6 chopped asparagus stalks, and 1/2 a head of chopped broccoli
6 oz can of tomato paste
1 large tomato, diced
1 bay leaf
optional: up to 1/2 cup of beef broth

1. Cut the squash in half, sprinkle with the garlic salt, and bake at 425 for 25-30 minutes or until the outside gives. Let it cool, and then remove the seeds with a spoon.
2. While the squash is cooking, add the bacon fat to the pot over medium heat. Then add the garlic and saute until fragrant.  

3. Add the beef and let it begin to brown. When you start to break it up, add the salt, and 1 tbsp of Italian seasonings + 1/2 tbsp of dried basil. 
4. After the beef is cooked, scoop it out with a slotted spoon (leaving behind the fat) and then add whatever cut up veggies you want.
5. Once they’ve softened a little (about 5 minutes), add the can of tomato paste and stir. Season with the rest of the Italian seasoning, dried basil, and bay leaf.
6. Add the diced tomato. Mix well.
7. Then put the beef back in and stir. Let that simmer on low-medium heat for at least 20 minutes, but up to an hour. The longer it sits, the better the flavors will be. *If the sauce is too thick for your liking, you can add up to 1/2 cup of beef broth. My husband likes his thicker, so I usually don’t add any.
8. Shred the squash with a fork and divide among the plates.

9. Top with the meat and veggie sauce. Devour!

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