If cutting calories is a goal for you, spaghetti squash may be a new fixture in your diet. One full cup of cooked spaghetti squash has only about 40 calories, while the same amount of spaghetti has five times that amount. Putting away a huge bowl of pasta that’s more than one serving size can sometimes be easy if you’re really hungry, so eating spaghetti squash instead is one way to keep yourself from overeating.
Protein is the most satiating macronutrient and is a staple of many healthy diets. In addition to helping the body build and repair bone, muscle and other tissue, adequate protein intake helps prevent the loss of lean muscle mass as you age. While a cup of cooked spaghetti squash has just 1 gram of protein, the same amount of cooked white pasta has 7 grams, and the same amount of cooked whole-wheat pasta has 9 grams.
One cup of cooked squash has only about 10 grams. Real spaghetti, on the other hand, has seven times that amount. Carbs are the primary source of energy for the brain and the body, so there’s no reason to try to avoid them in your diet, but if you’re going to eat a high-carb food like spaghetti, eat a whole-grain variety that contains fiber-rich, slow-digesting carbs to keep you fuller for longer and to improve your overall health.
- 8 cups (2 L) spiralized butternut squash
- 2 large shallots (½ cup/125 ml) cut into slices lengthwise
- 1 cup (250 ml) fresh basil leaves
- 2 cups (500 ml) fresh (or frozen) peas
- 2 cups (500 ml) sugar pea pods
- 1 lemon, ideally organic, sliced into ¼” slices, and cut each slice into quarters
- 2 tbsp (30 ml) lemon zest, ideally organic
- 1 tsp (5 ml) chili flakes
- 6 tbsp (90 ml) lemon juice
- 1 cup (250 ml) cured black olives, pits removed, and cut into quarters
- 2 tbsp (30 ml) avocado or other neutral oil, divided
- ¼ (60 ml) pistachio oil or extra virgin olive oil
- ½ cup (125 ml) pistachios, toasted and coarsely chopped
- 2 tsp (10 ml) pink peppercorns, crushed
- kosher salt
- In a medium frying pan, add 1 tbsp of the avocado oil and heat over medium high heat.
- Add the slices of lemon, and saute until lemons are golden brown on both sides.
- Remove from pan, and set aside.
- In the same pan, add the remaining tbsp of avocado oil and the shallots.
- Season with salt and black pepper and saute until lightly golden brown.
- Set aside with the caramelized lemon slices.
- In a small covered pot, bring 3 cups (750 ml) water to a boil.
- Add 1 tbsp (15 ml) kosher salt to the pot, and add the peas.
- Turn the heat down to a simmer and cook peas for 5 min or so until tender.
- Strain and transfer peas into a bowl of ice cold water.
- Repeat the same process with the sugar pea pods, the slice the pods lengthwise into strips.
- Preheat oven to 400 degrees
- Line a large baking sheet with parchment paper, and spread the butternut squash evenly, season with kosher salt, and freshly ground black pepper.
- Bake for 15 min or until tender.
- In a bowl large enough to toss the pasta with all the ingredients, add the squash, caramelized lemon slices, shallots, peas, pea pods, basil, lemon juice and zest, chili flakes, olives, and pistachio oil.
- Taste and season with more chili flakes, salt, lemon juice, zest or pistachio oil.
- Add the pink peppercorns, toss and season again if necessary, adding more pink peppercorns if needed.
- Divide pasta between the four dishes, and sprinkle each serving with the toasted pistachios.
Publisher’s Note: Carol Dudar is a Toronto based recipe developer and food stylist.