Thursday, November 21

Baked Spaghetti Squash with Spinach

I will be forever grateful to the person who introduced me to spaghetti squash several years ago. Back then the idea of going grain free seemed nearly impossible, especially as it meant giving up pasta. (A staple of my then diet.) But I quickly developed a taste for spaghetti squash and love discovering new ways to cook it.

Oddly Thanksgiving is one of the few times each year that I make an exception for traditional pasta as my Italian grandma prepares a bowl of rigatoni which rivals the turkey in size. Until then I will continue to prepare spaghetti squash in anticipation of the the starch fest that is Thanksgiving (though stay tuned for some healthier options:)

5 1/2 cups cooked spaghetti squash (from about 2 small)
1 tbsp butter
1 tbsp olive oil
1/4 cup minced onion
1/4 cup gluten free flour
2 cups skim milk
1 cup fat free chicken broth (vegetable broth for vegetarian)
8 oz Sargento 2% reduced fat mild cheddar
salt and pepper, to taste
4 cups (about 4 oz) baby spinach
1/8 cup grated parmesan

Preheat the oven to 375ºF
Cut the squash in half lengthwise; remove and discard seeds. Place squash on a baking sheet. Bake until tender, about 1 hour.* Separate the strands of squash with a fork and place in a medium bowl; discard shells.
Heat butter and oil in a large saucepan over medium heat. Add onions and cook about 2 minutes. Stir in flour. Reduce heat to low and cook, stirring continually 3 - 4 minutes.
Add milk and chicken broth and continue whisking, raising heat to medium-high until it comes to a boil and becomes smooth and thick, about 2 minutes stirring; season with salt and pepper. 
Once it becomes thick, remove from heat, add cheddar cheese and mix well until cheese is melted. Adjust salt and pepper to taste, add cooked spaghetti squash and baby spinach, pour into a baking dish and sprinkle parmesan cheese on top. Bakeuntil bubbly and golden 25 to 30 minutes.

*If you have a microwave you can poke several holes in the squash and heat for 10 minutes before cutting in half and removing the strands.

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