Can spaghetti still be spaghetti without spaghetti noodles? In our house, the answer is now “Yes!” Presenting summer squash spaghetti.
We recently signed up for our first community supported agriculture (CSA) through Maple Morning Farm here in Kentucky. CSA’s are an excellent way to get fresh, local produce while supporting farmers in your area. And the shorter the distance the produce has to travel, the more nutrients it will retain. We signed up for a bi-weekly mixed produce basket and have received potatoes, peppers, peaches, tomatoes, basil, cucumbers, apples, and more. Obviously, we are getting what is in season and this time of year, summer squash is very much in season. Now there are any number of ways for us to use zucchini and yellow squash, but so far Kim has mostly been pureeing it in the Vitamix for baby food for our 10-month-old, Silas.
But not wanting Silas to hog all the squash for himself, I needed to get the girls in on the action. And then last night, inspiration struck: summer squash spaghetti using the squash as the noodles. “Let it be written, let it be done!” I announced (in my head). So off to work I went.
How to make Summer Squash Spaghetti
The 2 large zucchinis and 3 medium-ish squash pictured below made roughly 4 servings.
Step 1: Wash said squash
Step 2: Julienne squash in the mandoline. Always use the finger guard!
Step 3: Sauté squash with some olive oil, garlic, salt and pepper. The longer you sauté it, the softer it gets. I was going for the firmness of spaghetti, so I cooked it for a little while. But if you like it al dente, by all means, cut down the cooking time. NOTE: I used some okra too because: a) we had some from our CSA and b) okra is excellent in sauces and since I’d eventually be adding tomato sauce, it made sense.
Step 4: Plate it, add red sauce and toppings of choice (For the girls, I added some parmesan and a little turkey sausage. But for mine below, you can see I got a little fancier) and presto, you’re done. Easy peasy… summer squash spaghetti!
What did the family think of Summer Squash Spaghetti?
So what did the kids think? At first they weren’t thrilled about eating non-traditional spaghetti. But then they tried some and were relieved that it wasn’t awful. I won’t pretend that they loved it, and I also won’t pretend I cared. It was dinner and if they don’t want to eat it, they don’t have to. That’s the rule in this family: you have to try it, you don’t have to finish it, but you won’t get anything else if you don’t. After eating more than half of the summer squash spaghetti, they both exercised the option to not finish. That’s okay, more for me.
Now don’t get me wrong, I wanted them to love it. But I’m not going to sweat it if they don’t. We try to get plenty of veggies in them (hence our smoothie requirement) and this beats eating squash raw. Besides, Kim and I quite liked it and felt great about the nutritional value it was providing. You see, our children’s waistlines are ballooning and that buck stops with us… we have to provide healthy food for them and trust that they will grow to like it.
Speaking of nutritional value, another benefit to summer squash spaghetti noodles was the reduced starchy-carbohydrates. I’ve never felt good about giving them pasta (even whole wheat) along with garlic bread. It’s just too many carbs and not enough protein and healthy fats. This way, I don’t worry too much about giving them some bread.
Will I make summer squash spaghetti like this again?
Absolutely. I will also make summer squash lasagna. That’s right, inspiration struck twice last night! Next time I’ll use the mandoline to slice long strips rather than julienne slices. I will do a layer of uncooked squash, covered in low-fat cottage cheese (a healthier option than traditional ricotta, mascarpone, or cream cheese), red sauce, and turkey sausage. I’ll repeat this a time or two and then top with a little mozzarella and parmesan and bake for 25-30 minutes at 350 degrees (and I’ll be sure to report back the findings of my little food critics).
You see, part of “getting fit anywhere” includes getting fit in the kitchen. So the next time you’re planning a dinner, be creative and don’t be afraid to think outside the box… of pasta. I’m not saying I won’t make traditional spaghetti again… it’s just that it might come with a side of garlic breaded zucchini toast.
You’ve been challenged… now GO!