A few years ago, in a restaurant in Maui, I had my first-ever bowl of spaghetti squash. It was served with a delightfully rich marinara sauce and topped with a sprinkle of Parmesan cheese. It was one of the few vegetarian items on the menu, which is why I chose it, but it also was listed as a "Healthy Choice", meaning that the dish - a giant, filling bowl - contained less than 300 calories.
The taste and satisfying nature of that dish was something I longed to recreate in my own kitchen, and after much trial and error I have done it! The marinara sauce is rich and flavourful, and can be doubled or tripled - it freezes well for quick weeknight meal solutions.
Did I mention the calories? Spaghetti squash is low in calories, fat, and carbs, so it's perfect for those of us who are suffering from a Halloween hangover. It's simple to prepare and so wonderfully filling and high in fibre. It's a perfect dinner for a chilly fall day - enjoy this delicious comfort food without needing to break out the elastic-waist pants.
Preheat oven to 450 degrees. Line two baking sheets with foil.
Cut spaghetti squash in half lengthwise and scoop out the seeds. Sprinkle each half with salt and pepper and place cut side down on the prepared baking sheets. Roast in oven for 45-60 minutes, or until squash is very tender.
Meanwhile, prepare the marinara sauce. In a large saucepan, heat oil over medium and add onion and garlic. Saute until browned and fragrant, about 10 minutes.
Stir in the diced tomatoes, crushed tomatoes, and balsamic vinegar. Add the baking soda and stir well - the sauce will foam up for a few minutes. When the sauce settles back down, add basil, oregano, salt, and pepper. Allow to simmer until the squash is done roasting.
When squash is very tender, scoop the "spaghetti" strands loose with a fork, and either leave them in the shell or transfer them to a bowl. Top with marinara and Parmesan cheese, if desired.
(Yield: 4-6 servings)