Spaghetti Squash with Roasted Red Pepper Sauce
I love spaghetti squash. To me, it doesn't have a "squash-y" taste that I associate with butternut or pumpkin. If I manage to cook it properly - which DID happen this time - the spaghetti squash isn't mushy and the strands separate easily. I knew tossing it with just butter, salt and pepper wouldn't be enough to hide the vegetable taste from Harry and I didn't want to go with a marinara sauce.
I found a recipe on Pinterest for Roasted Red Pepper Penne from Jessica at How Sweet It Is. I'm pretty fond of the sounds of her original recipe - whole wheat penne and chicken breasts tossed in this super-simple roasted red pepper sauce. I was going to cheat and just buy a couple of roasted red peppers from the olive bar but Jessica made it easy to understand how to quickly roast the peppers in my oven. Well, almost.
I usually just cut the spaghetti squash in half, place them cut side down in a baking pan with a bit of water and bake for 30-45 minutes. The label told me to pierce the skin all over with a fork, then microwave it whole for about 2 minutes per pound. I went about 3 1/2 minutes. Then, I put the whole, uncut spaghetti squash in a baking pan in a 375 degree oven for about an hour. I pulled it and the ham loaf out when the peppers were roasted and peeled, and let them set for the five minutes it took me to make the roasted red pepper sauce.
Everything got to moving quickly once the skins came off and I didn't get many pictures. I tossed the roasted red peppers into the food processor, added the garlic, basil (dried, because I'm lame), black pepper and Parmesan cheese then gave it all a few whirls. Next, we drizzled in the olive oil and let it run until the sound changed, meaning it was emulsified. We each tasted and Harry declared "needs Franks and red wine vinegar" - that's just how most everything ends in our kitchen.
But, he was right. The Frank's added a kick without too much heat and the red wine vinegar brightened up the sauce.
The verdict? I loved it! Harry decided that 1) the squash didn't taste green 2) it was actually kind of good because it held a bit of crispiness and 3) he'd like to try it with a tomato-based sauce. Sigh.
He liked the sauce but I'll have to tread carefully. Another vegetable into our menu planning! And, this dish can actually be considered healthy!
Spaghetti Squash with Roasted Red Pepper Sauce - serves 4 as a hearty side
2 medium red bell peppers
5 cloves garlic (remember we love garlic! - use less if you prefer)
1/3 cup grated Parmesan cheese
1/2 teaspoon crushed dried basil
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
2 to 3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
1 tablespoon red wine vinegar
Frank's Red Hot Sauce to taste
1 2-pound-ish spaghetti sauce
Place your oven rack near the top of the oven and preheat the oven to broil. Clean the bell peppers, cut in half and remove the seeds and stems. Place the peppers cut side down in a baking pan and place the pan in the oven. You'll want to keep an eye on the peppers - once they start to char, things will move very quickly.
When the peppers are black, remove them from the oven. Quickly place them into a zip bag so that the skins can steam and become easier to peel. Reduce the oven temperature to 375 degrees.
Wash the spaghetti squash and pierce the skin all over with a sturdy fork (the skin is pretty tough!). Microwave on high for 3 to 4 minutes, then place the squash into a baking pan or dish, uncut. Bake at 375 for about one hour.
While the spaghetti squash is baking, make the sauce. The heat from the squash will warm it, so you don't have to heat it up. Peel the blackened skin from the peppers and place in a food processor. (If you have an immersion blender, you can do all of this in a bowl.) Add the garlic, chopped small, Parmesan cheese, basil, black pepper and red wine vinegar and pulse a few times until all the ingredients are incorporated. Drizzle in the olive oil as the processor is running until you hear that it has incorporated. Add a few splashes of Frank's to taste and set the sauce aside.
When the squash has softened, remove from the oven. Working quickly with oven mitts or a potholder, cut the squash in half. Remove the seeds (there won't be many) and discard them. Using a fork, scrape the flesh and it will separate into spaghetti-like strands. Add sauce to coat, stirring gently but mixing well (the sauce will be kind of thick). Sprinkle a little extra Parmesan on top to serve.