When it comes to gluten free alternatives to pasta, we’ll all do well to remember the many vegetables that can be substituted, with great success, while bringing both good taste and nutrition to the table.
Spaghetti squash is at the top of my list. Much like pasta it has a very neutral flavour, marries well with many ingredients, and in this case soaks up the classic flavours of bacon and tomato.
Topping it off with some arugula adds a peppery bite, and is a delicious addition to the sweetness of the tomatoes, and the saltiness of the bacon. While the texture obviously won’t be like real flour pasta, it’s a very close second. Especially if you can’t eat gluten, spaghetti squash is an exceptional alternative; low in calories as well as carbs.
The squash strands will be quite delicate, so be gentle when combining all the ingredients together. If you prefer, you can plate individual portions, mounding/twirling the squash into a pretty pile, and tumble the bacon, tomato and tomato cooking juices over top. If you don’t like arugula for topping, use other baby greens such as spinach. Stirring it in before eating will be enough to softly wilt it, keeping its freshness and vitality.
While oven roasting gives great flavour, you could also cook the squash in the microwave – and use it for a pasta substitute for as long as squash is available in stores.
- 1 small spaghetti squash (easier to handle while cutting in half)
- 2 tsp olive oil
- 4 - 6 slices bacon, cooked and set aside
- 1 1/2 cups, approx, red cherry or grape tomatoes
- 1 clove garlic, thinly sliced
- 2 TBSP olive oil
- 1/2 tsp dried oregano
- Kosher salt, to taste
- Freshly ground black pepper, to taste
- Baby arugula, small handful for garnish
- Turn your oven to 350° and get out a baking pan, just large enough to hold the squash halves (trim a little off ends if necessary). Carefully cut the squash in half lengthwise, and scrape out and discard the seeds using a large spoon. Drizzle each half with 1 tsp olive oil, and season with salt & pepper. In the baking pan add about 1/4 cup water, then place the squash in, cut side down. Cover with foil, place in oven and bake for about 30 minutes.Turn the squash over and put back in the oven uncovered for another 10 minutes, baking until soft and a little browned on top. Test with fork for doneness.
- Cook the bacon by your favourite method and set aside when it’s done. In an oven proof skillet large enough to add the cooked squash, tumble in the tomatoes, add the garlic, pour the olive oil over, and sprinkle in the oregano, a pinch of salt & pepper to taste and give it a quick stir. Place in the oven and bake for about 20 minutes, just until the tomatoes start to split. Remove from oven and cover to keep warm.
- With a fork turned upside down, scrape out the spaghetti squash, starting from the far end and pulling gently towards you, removing as much as you can - you really should only have the shells left. Add the squash strands to the skillet, crumble in the cooked bacon, and carefully mix it together keeping in mind the more you stir the more the squash will break apart. Taste before adding any salt, as the bacon will add a lot. Use as much freshly ground black pepper as you like.
- Top with a little arugula for colour and freshness, to be stirred in just before eating. There should’ve been enough ‘tomato herb oil’ from the cooking juices, but if it seems a little dry, add a drizzle of olive oil. Equally delicious hot or at room temperature.
- *Tip: have both pans cooking in the oven at the same time!
- *Tip: if you have too much squash extra will keep for anther time, covered and stored in the fridge.