The fall spirit is still going strong around here! The weather, once again, was gorgeous this weekend, so I hightailed it out of work on Saturday and made it just in time to spend the late afternoon apple picking at one of the many orchards in the Madison area.
We walked away with far more apples than we probably needed, but we couldn’t not fill up the whole bag! Yesterday we spent time in the kitchen together making and canning enough applesauce to last us a year…no, I’m serious, it’ll most likely last us until next summer.
We also picked up some pumpkins this weekend and glanced at all the gourds and winter squash at the apple orchard. Thanks to our garden this summer, we bypassed the winter squash. While our community garden plot was
a little highly neglected this summer, we were still able to come away with a bunch of delicious produce, including a few spaghetti squash. Yay!
While I have nothing against pasta (whole grain is what I usually choose), spaghetti squash is so fun and is a great way to get some added vegetables onto your plate without even really realizing it. If you’re not familiar with spaghetti squash, it’s a winter squash that looks like spaghetti noodles when it’s cooked. Just running a fork through it creates lots of tiny spaghetti-like strands. Not only is it loaded with fiber, nutrients, and antioxidants, it’s also extremely low in calories (40 calories for a cup!). Spaghetti squash for the win!
Since I had small little spaghetti squash from our garden sitting on our kitchen counter, I decided to make a twist on spaghetti — Spaghetti alla Melanzane in a spaghetti squash boat. Isn’t it adorable?
What’s that even mean, you’re asking? Yeah, I didn’t know either. I made it thinking it was a fancy dish, but later found out it’s Italian for “Pasta with Eggplant.” Seriously? That sounded plain and boring, not to mention slightly awful. So I kept the alla melanzane to make it sound fancy. :) Just FYI, if you Google that, you’re going to come up with a page of all Italian. I was so confused. The translations are funny, though.
This recipe is anything but plain or boring and is definitely not awful. It’s full of so much flavor from the fresh basil, balsamic vinegar, and red pepper flakes (it has a kick!). The chickpeas give you staying power with its protein and the eggplant and chickpeas add meatiness to a vegetarian dish. To top it all off, the feta cheese sprinkled on top of these cute spaghetti squash boats adds a coolness and tang to round out all the flavors. It’s light, yet filling. And it’s absolutely the perfect Meatless Monday kind of meal.
If you’re aiming to impress, make this meal. Just don’t tell anybody what the dish actually means…Spaghetti alla Melanzane sounds so much more impressive. :)
Spaghetti alla Melanzane in Spaghetti Squash Boats
- 2 -3 small spaghetti squash
- 1 Tablespoon olive oil
- Salt and pepper, to taste
- 1 (15 oz) can cooked chickpeas, drained and rinsed
- 1 lb eggplant, diced (about 5 cups)
- 1 lb vine tomatoes, seeded and chopped (about 2 cups)
- 1/2 cup plus 1/3 cup chopped fresh basil, divided
- 6 Tablespoons balsamic vinegar
- 2 Tablespoons plus 2 tsp olive oil, divided
- 1 teaspoon honey
- 3/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes (reduce if sensitive to spice)
- 1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper
- 3 cloves garlic, minced
- 6 oz baby spinach, chopped
- 3/4 cup crumbled feta cheese
- Preheat oven to 400°. Cut squash in half, scoop out seeds, and place cut side up on a foil-lined baking sheet. Brush insides with olive oil and salt and pepper.
- Roast in preheated oven for ~30 minutes, depending on size of squash, or until tender is easily pierced with a fork. Let cool slightly. With fork, rake tongs back and forth to remove its flesh in strands. Keep the flesh in the squash for individual boats or take out the flesh and add to finished dish.
- Meanwhile, in a large bowl, combine chickpeas, eggplant, tomatoes and 1/2 cup basil. In a small bowl, whisk together vinegar, two tablespoons oil, honey, pepper flakes and black pepper. Pour over chickpea mixture and set aside to marinade for 20-30 minutes.
- While chickpea mixture is marinating, in a large skillet, heat remaining 2 teaspoons oil on medium-high. Sauté garlic for 1 to 2 minutes. Add spinach and sauté for 2 minutes. Reduce heat to medium and add chickpea mixture; cook for 10 minutes or until eggplant is softened. If needed, stir in about 1/4 cup of warm water.
- To make spaghetti squash boats, top squash with chickpea mixture, feta cheese, and the remaining basil. If you’re removing the flesh from the squash, add the squash and chickpea mixture to a large bowl. Stir in the feta cheese and top with the basil.
Inspired from: Clean Eating