Saturday, May 7, 2011

Saturday Smells Like . . . Atkins Induction Friendly "Spaghetti"

Hello all, J. here. Please contain your excitement; it's embarrassing for us both.

JE tired herself out again, this time baking a cake for a Catholic women's group. She still needs to wake up early today (I'm writing at around one o'clock) so she can do the actual decorating work, including making a big hydrangea out of frosting, sweat and love. She was getting ready to collapse into a heap for sleep when, ignoramus that I am, I asked if she had written a post yet.

Now, I've only been doing this husband thing for a few years now, but I've learned enough to know when I've crushed JE's spirit (yes, I do it enough that I can recognize it. Pathetic, huh?). She looked so tired that I had to take pity on her. Especially since she let me check out a new game store that recently opened and didn't get mad when I got sucked into a draft while asking questions about the pre-release that's happening tomorrow (Yes. I will play in two Magic events within one twenty-four hour period. Insert pitying sigh for me here.) So, I'd already cashed in some husband points today, and, never one to get too low, I figured I'd take the opportunity to earn back what I've spent today.

All that said, this Saturday smells like Atkins induction-stage-friendly "spaghetti." I know. You're thinking, "His candle never was that bright, but now it's totally blown out. Spaghetti cannot be low carb." You are correct. Spaghetti cannot be low carb. "Spaghetti," however, can be low carb. The difference quotation marks make is our secret ingredient here.

First, we'll start with an ingredient list. You'll need about one-half pound ground meat (beef, turkey, etc.) and another half pound of chorizo or hot Italian sausage, about four cloves of garlic, minced (or an equivalent amount of pre-minced garlic), one-half of a medium onion diced, one bell pepper diced or one pablano pepper diced, two cans of diced tomatoes (or, if you're lucky, the equivalent amount of fresh tomatoes), one can of tomato sauce (you can puree' a fresh tomato and season it up instead), various Italian spices (at least basil, but oregano, rosemary and thyme are also good), salt, pepper and either splenda or truvia. The final ingredient is the trick to it all--you will also need one medium to large spaghetti squash.

You see, spaghetti squash, instead of having a cohesive interior that is much like the interior of other squashes and similar vegetables, have an interior that is made of long strands of angel-hair-pasta-sized "noodles" of squash flesh. Thus, by baking the squash, we will have a low carb "noodle" for our dish.

Cut the spaghetti squash in half, place it on a cookie sheet covered with a silpat (cut side down), and stick it in the oven at 350 degrees for about thirty minutes. Then start browning your two meats in a skillet. While those are cooking, break down the non-squash vegetables listed above. As the meat releases grease, throw in the onions to soften a bit, followed by the pepper, and finally the minced garlic. After the onions are not quite translucent, add the tomato sauce, the two cans of diced tomatoes and season with salt, pepper and truvia/splenda to taste. Let the sauce simmer down until you've got it about as thick as you want it, and then throw in the Italian seasonings to taste, taking care to taste often, as one can easily over-season spaghetti sauce.

By the time the sauce thickens, the squash should already be out of the oven (or be near ready to come out of the oven). Take the squash out of the oven, and let it cool for a bit. Once it is cool enough for you to handle it, take a fork and use it like a rake to scrape the interior of the squash, pulling strands of the squash flesh to be used as a low carb pasta substitute. Top with around a tablespoon of butter for each bowl of "noodles." Then top with the sauce after it has thickened as you like it.

The resulting dish is fabulous and tastes very much like regular spaghetti. That said, if I were to do it over again, I would add a step between putting the squash noodles on the plate and adding the sauce. The spaghetti can give off a good deal of water while cooling, etc. Accordingly, I would pat the noodles down after being scraped out and before adding the sauce to prevent the water from diluting the flavor of the spaghetti sauce.

I really enjoyed this dish, as I get the best of both worlds--the taste of a carb-loaded favorite, but without the guilt. You can bet that we will have it again.

I hope you enjoyed the post. I'm going to sleep now, as I've almost fallen asleep twice while writing this post (I guess that does not bode well for entertaining the readership, huh?). So good night and good luck today at the Derby.

1 comment:

The Irreverent Economist said...

I cannot, as embarrassing as it may be, contain my excitement at J being a guest poster. First, I learned that I need to be keeping track of something called husband points. Seriously, this explains much. Do you have a spreadsheet for this?
Second, I learned that the only people who are more lame at trying to imitate one type of food with another than vegetarians are Atkins people. Baked squash instead of pasta? Screw it, just put a dollop of that marvelous sounding sauce on my plate, and let me go to town. I'll lick it up if I have to.
Thanks for posting!