Spaghetti Squash Bolognese

SPAGHETTISQUASH

Squash. I feel like it’s one of those controversial vegetables like brussels sprouts and broccoli. You either love it or hate it. I don’t understand squash haters and personally, I think they are making a bit mistake. Squash is so versatile. Did you know there are over 50 varieties of squash? You can also cook it just about any way– boiled squash, fried squash, baked squash, sautéed squash, squash casserole, squash pie, squash bread. I feel like Bubba from Forrest Gump. I could really go on and on about squash.

The BEST way to eat squash in my opinion is when it resembles a noodle. Conveniently, the squash king named this variety “Spaghetti Squash”. It’s genius really. A vegetable that can replace pasta! Sure, on it’s own its a little bland and boring but trust me, with the right sauce you will love it. It might even turn squash skeptics into loyal fans.

This was the first time I tried a meaty sauce with my squash noodles. Result? Perfect. Tons of protein, low carb, packed with vegetables and nutrients. It’s also pretty easy on the wallet. You really can’t go wrong. If you are red meat averse, feel free to substitute ground turkey for the beef and omit the pancetta.

Ingredients

Serves 4

  • 1 large spaghetti squash ($3.00)
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil ($.10)
  • 1/2 medium onion, chopped ($.50)
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced ($.20)
  • 2 cups mushrooms, sliced ($2.00)
  • 1 carrot, finely minced ($.10)
  • 1 celery stalk, finely chopped ($.10)
  • 4 oz pancetta, finely chopped ($3.00)
  • 1 pound ground beef ($5.00)
  • Salt
  • Pepper
  • 1/4 C cheap dry red wine ($1.00)
  • 1 (28-ounce) can crushed tomatoes ($1.50)
  • 1/4 cup half and half ($.30)
  • 1/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes ($.03)
  • 1/2 teaspoon basil ($.20)

Total: $17.03

Instructions

Preheat oven to 400. Poke 4 or 5 holes in spaghetti squash and microwave for 10 minutes in a large microwave safe dish.

Meanwhile, in a dutch oven or stock pot sauté the carrot, onion, celery, garlic and mushrooms over medium-high heat with 1 tbs olive oil. After the veggies are cooked through, add pancetta and cook until crispy, about 4 minutes. Next, add in ground beef and brown.

Once beef is brown, drain off excess grease then add mixture back to pan. Season with salt and pepper. Add 1/4 C wine and scrape up brown bits, cook 2 minutes. Add in tomatoes, half and half, red pepper flakes and basil. SImmer on low for 35 minutes.

At this point, remove the spaghetti squash. Careful, it’s hot! Cut in half and remove seeds…try and keep in as much pulp as possible. Put both sides cut-side down on a greased cooking sheet and bake 25 minutes. Remove squash, then using two forks, pull out the pulp and separate noodles into a bowl.

To serve, add squash noodles to bowl with a hearty scoop of Bolognese. Feel free to add grated parmesan as well!

Blackened Grouper with Mango Salsa

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I just discovered an amazing little gem in my neighborhood– a seafood market. I’ve been searching for one since I moved to DC two years ago and I finally found it. I’m very particular about purchasing things from the sea… I rarely stray from Whole Foods and the only frozen seafood I will buy is shrimp. It was my friend’s birthday and I was set on making him Mahi. Believe it or not, Mahi is impossible to find up North and when you do it’s usually overpriced and not very fresh. Old Mahi is not ok, especially for someone like me who grew up in Florida. I talked to the owner of the market and explained to him what I wanted to prepare that night. This man looked like and knew as much about seafood as Captain Gordon himself. He said the best thing in his case that day was Grouper. Sold. I coated the filets in blackening seasoning and pan-seared in a bit of olive oil on high heat. I made a fresh, simple mango salsa for the topping and served with a side of asparagus and honey- ginger spaghetti squash (recipe below). The result was perfection and I was very proud of myself. Then, out of nowhere, the meal was ruined by an embarrassing mishap. Mid-sentence, mid-meal I heard wood start to crackle. My chair teetered from left to right then literally snapped under me, sending me straight to the ground. I think I said something like “Wh—Wh—Whoooaa” before I plunged. Luckily I didn’t get hurt…the only thing I lost was my dignity. Let’s just say it was an unforgettable meal. Oh, and don’t buy furniture on Craigslist.

Ingredients

Servings :2
• 1 lb Grouper, filleted and cut into 2 servings ($14.00)
• 2 tbs blackening seasoning ($.20)
• 1 tbs olive oil ($.20)
• ½ mango, diced finely ($.50)
• 1 tbs red onion, diced finely ($.15)
• 1 tbs cilantro, chopped ($.05)
• 1 plum tomato, seeded and chopped ($.30)
• 1 tbs lime juice ($.10)

Total: $15.50

Instructions

Rinse fish and pat dry with paper towels. Put seasoning on plate and dredge both sides of fish (lightly) in seasoning, shake off excess. Bring skillet to medium-high heat and once hot, add fish. Let it cook 4 minutes, and shake the pan back and forth a few times so the fish doesn’t stick. Flip the fish, cover and cook another 5 minutes on medium-high heat. While fish is cooking, make the salsa. Chop mango, red onion, cilantro, tomato and lime juice and combine. I microwave mine for about 30 seconds. Serve on top of cooked fish.

Honey-Ginger Spaghetti Squash:

Ingredients
• 1 large spaghetti squash ($3.00)
• 3 tbs butter ($.10)
• 1 tbs freshly grated ginger ($.25)
• 1 tsp chicken boullion cube/ paste ($.05)
• ½ cup honey ($1.00)
• ¼ cup brown sugar, packed ($.25)
• 1 cup water
• 1 tbs cornstarch ($.05)

Total: $4.70

Instructions

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Poke holes in spaghetti squash with a knife. Cook in microwave-safe dish in microwave for 10 minutes. Remove squash (be careful- it’s hot!) and cut in half. Bake in oven on roasting pan with tin foil, cut side down, for 10 minutes. Remove squash from oven and carefully remove all seeds. Using a fork, remove all the “pulp” from the squash and place in bowl. It will look like angel hair pasta. Mix in 2 tbs of butter and set aside.
For the sauce:
Do this while the squash is cooking. Saute 1 tbs butter and fresh ginger for 1 minute. Add chicken boullion cube and saute another minute. Add honey and brown sugar and cook on medium for 2 minutes. Mix cornstarch and water until dissolved and add to honey/ ginger mixture. Let it cook 5 minutes, while gently stirring and on medium heat.Once the sauce is done, pour desired amount over cooked spaghetti squash.