As sad as I am to say goodbye to summer, I’m equally excited to welcome the flavors of fall, my all-time favorite food season. This is the time of year when summer produce still lingers at the farmer’s markets (tomatoes, bell peppers, etc.) while the bounty of fall is just ripening: hearty root vegetables, dark leafy greens and best of all winter squash.
My favorite varieties of winter squash are the delicatas and buttercups which are small and sweet, but it’s during this transitional time of the year that I crave spaghetti squash. I find it to be the perfect crossover vegetable providing a canvas for combining summer and fall flavors.
In this case I mixed cooked spaghetti squash with sauteed garlic, mushrooms, tomatoes and spinach, making for a hearty, delicious and super healthy meal. The entire dish takes less than 20 minutes to make and the microwave does half the work. And it’s a fantastic as a vegetarian entree or side dish to chicken or fish.
Here’s the recipe:
Spaghetti Squash with Mushrooms, Tomatoes & Spinach, serves 2
1 spaghetti squash, cut in half with seeds removed
1 teaspoon olive oil
3 cloves garlic, minced
1/2 cup diced mushrooms (stems discarded)
1 medium tomato, cored, seeded and diced
2 cups fresh baby spinach
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon pepper
2 tablespoons thinly sliced fresh basil
Set the spaghetti squash halves skin side up in a baking dish just large enough to hold them. Prick the skins a few times with the tip of a knife and pour in 1/4 cup water (or 2 tablespoons if cooking just 1 half). Cover tightly with plastic wrap and poke a few holes in the plastic. Set the baking dish in the microwave and cook on high power for 12 minutes (10 minutes if making half). Let the squash sit covered in the microwave for 5 minutes then carefully remove. Gently pull back the plastic wrap being careful of the steam and place the spaghetti squash on a cutting board. Use a fork to scrape the squash from the skin; it will come out easily in threads reminiscent of spaghetti.
Make the sauce while the spaghetti squash is cooking. Begin by heating the olive oil in a skillet set over medium heat. Add the garlic and cook until fragrant, 1 to 2 minutes. Stir in the mushrooms and cook for 3 minutes, then stir in the tomatoes and cook for 2 minutes. Fold in the spinach and cook until the spinach wilts, about 2 minutes. Remove the pan from the heat and season to taste with salt and pepper, then stir in half the basil.
Mix the sauteed vegetables and any accumulated liquid with the spaghetti squash. Divide between two plates and garnish with remaining basil. Serve warm.