Now a couple of things, you have to be willing to sacrifice your fruit but it is totally worth it and your don't really get hungry in between.
This recipe is a little more complicated than all the other recipes that I have been posting, so I am going to break it down into three parts. Part One, Everything you need to know about the squash. Part Two, The Meat. And finally Part Three, The Ancho Pepper Marinara.
|3.5oz Spaghetti Squash: 18 cal, 3oz Beef: 115 cal, 1/2c Tomato Sauce:40 cal, Melba Toast: 15 cal|
Part 1- The Spaghetti Squash
Now first off I want you to take some deep breaths and relax, preparing this is not as hard as you would think!
When you go to the store to pick out your Spaghetti Squash pick a good one, large lemony yellow in color looking squash. If it is green don't use it! Also, I have found that the larger the Squash the easier it is to work with after you cook it. I go for about 4-5lbs. Now be sure that you are getting Spaghetti Squash, regular Squash will not work for this recipe.
Another thing I just want to forewarn you about is the texture. The Spaghetti Squash doesn't really have a pasta texture, it's a little crispy, similar to Water Chestnuts (that watery crispy taste). Don't be turned off by the texture because it is very good! My family went on and on about how great it was! It also has kind of a sweet flavor to it and it doesn't leave you feeling weighed down and heavy after eating it. Okay enough about that, how do you cook this thing?!?!
It's easier that you would think. You have two options as to how you cook it. The 1st is kind of like cooking a potato. You wash the Squash and stab it a lot all over and put in the oven. Now I put it on a heavy duty baking sheet because I thought it would be juicy but I didn't see any juice once I got done cooking it. The advantages of cooking it this way are, it's easier initially and you can start cooking it and just walk away.
Disadvantages are, man is it hot to deal with once you are done cooking it, the guts are kind of a pain to get out, and it takes longer. That being said, it's the way I do it.
The 2nd way to cook it is by cutting it in half long ways, scooping out all the guts and seeds (looks very similar to a cantaloupe). Advatanges, cooks in less time and not hot to handle. Disadvantages, have you ever tried to slice a large, hard Squash longways in half. That's why I couldn't do it this way.
Now if you are going for the 1st, whole, way Preheat your oven for 375F. Get the Squash, wash and stab like crazy. Ever had a bad day? Wanted to get your frustrations out on something? Here's your chance, just watch your hands. I stab the squash about 100 times, yes 100. The last thing I want to to clean up 4lbs of blown up squash in my oven :) Once you are done stabbing the life out of your squash, place on a heavy duty cooking sheet (turkey pan works great for this) and place in your 375F oven for 1hour to about 1hour 20mins. Now my large spaghetti squash's skin kind of cracked open a little and at about an hour and I took it out. The skin should almost be shell-like, kind of hard but kind of flexible.
Now this is where going for this option is kind of a pain. This baby is hot, so you may want to let it cool for about 10 mins before handling, I unfortunately did not. Talk about a good game of Hot Potato, or should we say Hot Squash. Anyways, once you can easily handle the squash cut in half longways. Now another pain about cooking it this way is removing the guts without removing the meat. The best way that I found to do this was by taking a good sharp knife and running it all the way around the guts and underneath (kind like how you do a cake), then getting a large soup spoon and it pretty much easily comes out. Repeat on the other half. Now you are probably looking at the squash wondering where the pasta stringy part comes from. Clean off your spoon and gently scrap the squash from side to side (not long ways), you should see little stringy pieces starting to gather in the center. I scoop and place in a bowl. Keep doing this until you have gotten all the meat out, then repeat on the other half.
Now if you decided to go with the 2nd method of cooking it and where successful in slicing your Spaghetti Squash in half prior to baking then you will want to follow along with these instructions. Again Preheat your oven to 375F. You don't have to stab your squash, just cut it in half longways and remove the guts. Now because the guts are a little more firm it may be a little more difficult to get them out. Best way is the same as we did once the squash was cooked. Take your sharp knife, run all along the edge of the guts and underneath and scoop with a large spoon. You may have to do a little more scraping to get them out. Place the halves on a heavy duty baking sheet in your 375F oven for about 30-40 mins, shorter cooking time is your reward for being able to slice that sucker. Once the squash is done cooking again you may want to let it cool until it isn't too hot to handle. Do the same scooping method listed above. Gently scoop with your spoon from side to side, not long ways. It should gather in the middle and scoop in bowl.
Now for both of these cooking methods you may find that your squash is too cool after handling it. Just pop it in the microwave for about 3 mins to warm it up or place back in the shell and put it in the oven for about 5-10mins depending on the temperature.
And now you're done with the Spaghetti Squash part. Now while all this is cooking you will want to be making your beef and marinara. If you are cooking the longer method wait until you have about 30mins left on your timer before you start the marinara and beef. If you are doing the shorter method, start on the beef and marinara right after placing the squash in the oven.
Part 2- The Beef
Now I used about 2 lbs of 4% fat beef. I know that that sounds like it is still to high but I am going to teach you a method that will help eliminate most of that fat.
Get a large, deep skillet on the burner going on medium high with your 2lbs of beef in it browning. No stock, nothing. I like to start poking it apart right away or you get clumps. Once your beef is done browning and you don't see it producing anymore grease, grab a heavy duty heat resistant strainer and strain your beef over hot water in the sink. This is how you get rid of all that excess fat. Now a key part in this is to wipe out your pan, making sure no grease is left in it.
Once you have thoroughly rinsed your beef and pan, place beef back in the skillet and on the stove. Add a few splashes of chicken stock and a good amount Garlic Red Wine Vinegar, Onion Powder, Pepper, and Sumac Berry Powder.
Now I know that it's is nearly impossibly to find Sumac Berry Powder but man does it do wonders to your meat. I found it at a spice shop on the northside but you can probably find it online. Definitely a great investment spice!
Let the meat soak in the flavors on low heat for about 10-15mins.
Part 3- Ancho Pepper Marinara
Now Don't be afraid of the Ancho Chili Pepper, they are amazing! I found mine at Kroger for 10cents!!!!
1 Dried Ancho Chili Pepper
2 (12oz) Cans Hunts Tomato Sauce
2 (12oz) Cans Hunts Tomato Puree
1 (12oz) Can Hunts Diced Petite Tomatoes
1 small can or tube of Tomato Paste
(I use Hunt's because I know it doesn't have sugar in the original tomato products, if you look at the flavor varieties it does. Just check before you buy!)
2 TBSP Sea Salt
2TBSP Dried Oregano
2TBSP Dried Basil
1tsp Onion Powder
3 Cloves of Minced, finely chopped Garlic or if pre-minced 3 tsp
2tsp Ground Sage
1TBSP Marjoram (another great investment spice)
With the Ancho Pepper Remove the stem, if you gently pull on it most of the seeds will come along with it. Now the seeds are where the heat is, so for a spicier marinara add more seeds, for a milder marinara add less. Slide your knife down the middle of your pepper to open up. Scrap out all the seeds, keep what you want, toss what you don't. I like to save them even if I am not going to use them for this recipe for future recipes, just stick them in a Zip-lock bag. Now with the flesh of the pepper, roll it up and slice into stripes. Do a rough chop and toss in another pan from the meat.
I keep everything separate so that I can measure it all out individually and them mix it all on my plate.
After adding the pepper to your pot add your garlic. Place pot on medium heat and add all other ingredients.
Cook on medium to low heat for 20-30 mins to let all the flavors come out and then you are done!
Like I said I cook everything individually so that I know exactly how much of each portion I am getting. I kind of do a stacked method. Place the squash on my plate, weigh, then the beef, weigh, then the marinara, weigh. I like to go ahead and eat my Melba toast at the time like it's my bread stick. I found a roasted garlic one that just made the dish.
Enjoy, I know I did!
Next up, Sweet Vidalia Onion!!!