food to glow

feel good food that's good for you

Two weeks ago I was writing a post in bare feet and with a glass of freshly squeezed, tree-fresh orange juice at my elbow. Today, at a sparklingly sunny 5.5 C, I greet you with double layer socks, a woollen under-clothing shoulder warmer thingy, and a ridiculous number of layers. I am also jiggling my legs and flexing my toes to keep the circulation going. With any luck these fidgety movements will also burn a few calories. Don’t scoff: I’ve read that’s one reason slim people are slim. Must be worth a shot.

Across the northerly latitudes many a home-based worker will currently have on some version of my keep-warm-this-winter gear. Perhaps you yourself are sporting a fleecy leisure garment, or even some flannel. I am anticipating serious scarf action and fingerless gloves, a la Steptoe, in the not-too-distant future. And I’ve looked out my stash of jaunty berets and ski hats. I’m not joking.

At this time of year I can forget what a sight I must look, a combination of lost Inuit and itinerate gardener. Not infrequently do I open the door to wide-eyed unsuspecting neighbours hoping only for a small favour or to give me something from their garden. They cover it well but I must look such a wild contrast to how I appear when going out for the day. Or rather I hope it’s a wild contrast. I could in fact be setting myself up for an awful Trinny and Susannah-style makeover from ‘kind’ friends and relatives. As long as they let me keep my shoulder warmer…

Other than the digging out hideous but warm clothing, to me plummeting temperatures also means comfort food. In fact last night’s supper was baked-in-the-box epoisses, which is just about the most delicious French cheese ever. If you aren’t familiar with it epoisses is a raw cows’ milk, washed rind cheese from the Burgundy region of France. It is characterised by a strong woodland nose, with a milder, almost dried fruit taste (it is washed in brandy!).You can get pasteurised versions in the US although the flavour is allegedly more subdued. This would however make it suitable for those on chemotherapy and might be nice if you need to keep weight on.

For our little fireside feast sweet-sour cornichon, torn hunks of fresh baguette and crisp perky radishes were used to dunk and smear. I could’ve baked two of those babies and we would still have selfishly plundered the singed wooden box for crusty bits. If you’d like to do the same, take a wooden box of epoisses or Camembert, remove the paper from the cheese and put the cheese back in the box and onto a baking tray. You can either bake it as is for 15 minutes at 200 C/400 F, or smear it with a cut clove of garlic, poke it a bit with a knife and pour over a couple of tablespoons of white wine.

Usually the molten cheese is corraled in the box but ours escaped a bit, so the tray is a must. Here is a pic of the epoisses before it hit the oven – too messy for post-baking photo call. It isn’t an every day supper by any stretch of the imagination, but if you eat dairy it does make a quick, filling supper. And if eaten with a pile of crudite vegetables and pickles, isn’t too rubbishy. In fact, epoisses has less fat than commonly eaten hard cheeses: 21-24g of fat per 100g compared with 33.5g per 100g for Cheddar. I find, personally, that I am very satisfied with a smaller amount of the former as it is not a cheese to be scoffed down quickly and it has such a complex, teasing taste. But sometimes a good old cheese and chutney sandwich is just the thing. Today I am balancing things out with a fruity breakfast and my beloved Clearspring brown rice (baked) ramen noodles with ribbons of cavolo nero for lunch. I haven’t thought about supper but it won’t have cheese. 😀

This week I am offering you a comfort dish that even Madonna or Victoria Beckham might consider eating. It is a cinch to prepare, especially if you cook the squash ahead of time. But even if not, you can prep the other ingredients and then do something else meantime, like pay bills (hmm) or read the newspaper (I wish). I’ve not microwaved squash but it appears easy enough, as long as you pierce it first. However you make it perhaps think about cooking more than one squash and freezing the prepared strands for later experimentation. Just defrost, drain and warm for five minutes or so. Oh, and by the way, sub prawns for feta cheese if you are vegetarian, and if vegan whack in some cooked Northern or white beans, adding more thyme or oregano for extra oomph.

Spaghetti squash is a handy ingredient for the neglectful cook, or anyone who likes to scoop up multiples of foodstuff for later use. Normally one can’t bulk buy fresh foods, unless you are doing a lot of juicing or soup making. But spaghetti squash is that rare food, as tasty and useful on the day you buy it as it is a month later. I tend to buy up a few when I see them (easier for you North Americans), and leave them to languish in a dark cupboard until I remember them. I don’t know why I leave them so long as they are hugely easy and useful additions to countless recipes and recipe tweaks. The reason I say ‘tweak’ is because it is most often used as a pasta substitute, although it’s great as a warm salad ingredient and in things like curries. I’ve had a look at spaghetti squash recipes online, and a few look really nice. I fancy trying this, this and definitely this. And please, please check out the fabulous #squashlove recipes listed at mis pensamientos and at The Spicy RD. There you will find links to lots of recipes from ‘bloghop’ members for all kinds of seasonal squashes. I am inspired to try quite a few! Do not read on an empty stomach…

Spaghetti Squash ‘Pasta’ with Tomatoes and Prawns

Fancy a bit of pasta but don’t fancy the ‘bleurgh’ feeling that sometimes comes from eating pasta? Well, let me introduce you to spaghetti squash. This underrated ‘vegetable’ (fruit really) is just the thing to reach for when the lure of refined wheat is too much. A credible sub for the white stuff, spaghetti squash – also called vegetable squash and noodle squash – looks like any ordinary squash, all hard and heavy, but when baked, boiled or microwaved transforms into delicate, delectable strands.

Although available year-round spaghetti squash is at its peak early autumn through winter, and larger, deep yellow ones are best – white ones aren’t usually ripe enough to bother with. Nutritionally it is perhaps no great shakes as it is too high in water to be vitamin-rich, but as a sub for spaghetti it is top-class. To compare, 1 cup of cooked squash is 42 calories, while spaghetti is 221. The pasta will be enriched with B-vitamins, but you get a lot more filling fibre with the squash, as well as a savings of 33 carb grams per serving. Try this recipe, the ones I gave links for above, or pair it with your favourite homemade marinara recipe, and enjoy ‘pasta’ without the bloat.

1 large yellow spaghetti squash, scrubbed but not cut (although depending on appetite, you may want to only use half once it is cooked)

1 tbsp olive oil

200g/7 oz raw, prepared prawns OR block of best feta cheese (don’t cook though) OR cooked white beans

18 cherry/grape tomatoes (or more)

50g/1.75 oz semi-dried tomatoes (sometimes called ‘mi-cuit’), snipped

1 clove garlic, finely minced

50ml/3.5 tbsp white wine OR vegetable stock

1 tbsp chopped oregano or thyme leaves

2 handsful rocket/arugula

Aleppo pepper flakes, optional

Chilli flakes, optional

Spaghetti Squash Preparation Options: It is a devil to cut when raw so I like to bake my squash whole, and for this I poke it a few times with a knife and then bake it for one hour at 190C/375F. If you want to microwave it, poke it (so it doesn’t explode) then cook on ‘high’ for 10-12 minutes, or until a knife slips in easily. For boiling, (least preferred option) boil for ½ an hour. Once cooked, cut the squash in half lengthways, scoop out the seeds: it will be scaldingly hot so maybe leave it a few minutes. Then use a fork to gently tease the strands away from the thin skin. Pile the strands into a colander and get on with the rest of the dish. If you don’t want to use all of the squash, save some for lunch, matched with chopped veg, some mozzarella and thick Balsamic vinegar. Or freeze for another day.

Heat the olive oil over a medium-high heat and add in the prawns. Add the tomatoes and turn up the heat a bit, stir frying until the prawns lose some of their grey colour. Now add the semi-dried tomatoes and garlic. Stir fry these ingredients for one minute before adding the wine. Let everything bubble up before adding the oregano or thyme, rocket, Aleppo pepper (if using) and finally the spaghetti squash strands. Serve immediately, with chilli flakes for those who want them. Serves 2-3

16 thoughts on “Prawn, Tomato and Spaghetti Squash ‘Pasta’

  1. Yummy. I love pasta and prawns and agree that I dislike that awful feeling after eating pasta. Spaghetti squash is great, I grew some once upon a time. Love this recipe! Thanks for sharing.

    1. Cool that you’ve grown the squash. I don’t have the room but if I had an allotment I would definitely grow some – they more than earn their keep in my book. Check out the other spaghetti squash recipes on #squashlove, if you haven’t already. PS I am putting the heat on NOW! Brrr

  2. georgiecakes says:

    Wow! Whether Madonna or Victoria are joining in on this healthy, yet fancy take on pasta, I’m pulling up a seat for a plateful, please.

    1. NIce to ‘meet you’ Georgiecakes 😀 Thanks for your kind comment

  3. What a beautiful dish, Kellie! I wish I can enjoy prawns, but I am allergic!

    If you have a room for a 5 gallon container, Orangetti or Tivoli would be happy in it since these varieties are compact ;-).

    Now I have to scroll back up again to enjoy your Squash Love post! Thank you for sharing!

    1. Ooh, that’s good to know. I will look up these varieties (and see if the seedings are hen proof!) and maybe next year have a lovely crop all to myself. Cheers for the tip off!

  4. Karen says:

    What a wonderfully colourful and delicious looking dish……..and epoisses I LOVE! It is smelly but divine!! I also love your squash, it is all so beautiful and seasonal Kelly!

    1. Aw, thanks lovely. And yay, a fellow epoisses fan! The photos are a bit elderly and rubbish but I assure you the dish is lovely and super easy. Thanks for stopping by Karen 😀

  5. EA Stewart says:

    Such a fun post {I can completely relate to looking “a sight” to the neighbors!} At least I am not wearing my PJs right now 🙂 Love this recipe, although I will sub in feta for the prawns as I have never developed a taste for them. All the other ingredients sound fabulous! So glad you joined in on all the #squashlove fun!

    1. I can’t imagine you in a daytime PJs somehow! The feta would be perfect, although I haven’t tried it with this (we both know it would work though, don’t we – squash and feta are perfect partners). I still need to make your gorgeous chutney. And package it up nicely. I will look at your pix for guidance. Glad to be a new member of bloghop. Great idea 😀

  6. I love love love spaghetti squash. Low carbs & healthy. Prawns are a great addition. Can’t wait to try it out for myself.

  7. My CSA box included a spaghetti squash last week. It is waiting for me to decide it’s fate. Thanks for sharing guidance on prep and a tempting recipe.

  8. I love spaghetti squash and yours is just awesome! BTW, you had me at prawns. Totally sold on this! Glad to cook along with you on this squash event!

    1. Thanks Elizabeth. I need to check out YOUR squashlove offerings now 😀

  9. I love spaghetti squash – it’s so versatile and you’ve done a beautiful job with the addition of prawns!

    1. Thanks Kristi! I have another one left awaiting it’s fate. They keep so well but I mustn’t be so cavalier with their longevity, just in case.

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