A spaghetti squash has been sitting on my counter for about a week now while I’ve tried to decide what to do with it. It seems that most recipes for spaghetti squash treat it as spaghetti, with a marinara or other tomato-based sauce and lots of garlic, basil, and oregano. I was looking to do something a little different, and I only needed to look as far as the Fatfree Vegan Recipes website, where my friend Karina, Gluten-Free Blogger Extraordinaire and author of the wonderful Cooking by the Seasons, had posted her recipe for Santa Fe Spaghetti Squash Casserole.
I liked the heartiness of Karina’s recipe, with its black beans and corn as well as its use of southwestern rather than Italian seasonings. I took a few liberties with the recipe but tried to keep its basic character. Since I was running short on time, I steamed the squash in the microwave instead of baking it; I doubled the amount of bell pepper, using half green and half red; I used fresh baby spinach rather than frozen; I omitted the cilantro; and I changed the bread crumb topping to a corn meal, tamale pie-type crust. The results were very good and very different from any spaghetti squash dish I’ve ever had.
Here’s my take on Karina’s recipe; to see how it’s supposed to be done, be sure to take a look at the original.
Santa Fe Spaghetti Squash Casserole
1 medium spaghetti squash (mine weighed 2 pounds)
olive oil spray
1/2 cup onion, diced
2 cloves garlic, minced
1/2 cup red bell pepper, chopped
1/2 cup green bell pepper, chopped
1 (14-oz.) can black beans, rinsed and drained
1 (4 oz.) can chopped green chilies
2/3 cup fresh or frozen corn
1 packed cup chopped fresh spinach
1-1/4 tsp. chili powder, or to taste
2 tbsp. fresh lime juice
1 tsp. sea salt (or to taste)
1/2 cup corn meal
1/2 cup + 1 tbsp. hot water
1/2 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp. agave nectar (or other sweetener)
Cut the spaghetti squash in half lengthwise and place it in a microwave-safe casserole dish, cut sides up. Add 1/4 cup water and cover tightly (use plastic wrap if necessary). Microwave on high power until the squash is tender, 10-12 minutes. Allow the squash to sit in the dish for at least 5 minutes after cooking.
When it’s cool enough to handle, use a fork to scrape out the strands of squash into a bowl. (If you don’t want to wait, you will need to use potholders to hold it while you scrape out the flesh.)
Preheat the oven to 350 F.
Spray a large skillet with the olive oil spray, and sauté the onion, garlic, and bell pepper until tender. Add the black beans, chilies, corn, spinach, and chili powder, stir, and allow to heat through. Remove from heat and add the squash, lime juice, and salt. Pour the mixture into an oiled casserole dish.
In a small bowl, mix together the crust ingredients. Spread the batter smoothly over the top of the spaghetti squash mixture and sprinkle with a little chili powder, if you like. Bake at 350 for about 25 minutes, until crust is firm and beginning to brown around the edges. Serves 4.
Nutrition (per serving): 296 calories, 25 calories from fat, 2.9g total fat, 0mg cholesterol, 618.9mg sodium, 1278.7mg potassium, 58.1g carbohydrates, 14.4g fiber, 4.9g sugar, 14.7g protein, 8.8 points.
I served this with a green salad, and it made for a very light meal. For hearty appetites, I suggest you follow Karina’s recommendation and serve it with Spanish rice. Thanks, Karina, for sharing this and all your wonderful recipes and observations with us!