Healthy Family Cookin’: Spaghetti Squash Carbonara

The bulk of our harvest came in a few days ago so I’m starting to see the light at the end of the tunnel. We had a light frost and decided just to go ahead and harvest everything. It was actually a pretty meager harvest this year. We had a lot of rain in August that shortened our growing season a bit. But, thankfully, we’ll still be eating plenty of squash this winter.

Funny enough…I still have one squash that we grew last year that has lasted this entire time (amazing, huh?). I love growing and storing winter squash. They have amazing storage capacities.

And speaking of winter squash, one of the winter squash that we love growing is spaghetti squash. I love using spaghetti squash as a healthy (and gluten free) substitute for spaghetti noodles. This is another delicious dish that I discovered last year to add to our spaghetti squash dish repertoire. It is so yummy and satisfying and the colors are beautiful. The perfect fall dish.

Spaghetti Squash Carbonara
Printable Recipe

*Serves 4-6

3-lb. Spaghetti Squash
6 slices Bacon, Optional*See Note Below
2 Cloves Garlic, minced
1-1/2 Cups Frozen Peas (or alternately I’ve also made this with 1 red bell pepper, chopped)
2 Cups Winter Squash, peeled and cubed, optional (I like to use Sunshine or Hubbard Squash)
1 8-oz. pkg. cream cheese, cubed
1-1/2 Cups Milk
Salt & Pepper, to taste
Grated Parmesan Cheese, optional

Cook the Spaghetti Squash using your favorite method. Here are a few that I use a lot because they’re quick:

Pressure Cooker Method: I first learned of this method on Pressure Cooking Today. It works great and I love it because it’s so fast and easy. Place the spaghetti squash and 1-1/2 Cups water in the pressure cooking pot. Cook 10 minutes on high pressure. Use a quick pressure release and carefully open cooker. If squash is still firm, replace the lid and cook another minute or two until the squash is tender. Then remove squash carefully from the pressure cooker. When cool enough to handle, cut squash in half. 

Microwave Method: Use a sharp knife to cut squash in half lengthwise. Place cut sides up on a microwave safe plate and cover with cling wrap. Microwave on high for 8-10 minutes or until tender. Allow to cool enough to handle before unwrapping.

While spaghetti squash is cooking, prepare sauce. Cook bacon in large skillet until crisp. If you’re concerned about this, see the note below. Then remove bacon from skillet and drain on a paper towel. Pour off bacon drippings. Add garlic to pan and sauté for about 1 minute until clear. Add winter squash cubes and sauté until almost tender (to speed up the process you can steam or microwave the squash cubes for a few minutes first). Add milk, cream cheese cubes and frozen peas (or chopped red bell pepper); simmer over medium low heat until cream cheese is melted and mixture is well blended and heated through. Add more milk, if too thick.

Once spaghetti squash is cooked and cooled slightly, scoop out seeds and discard. Use a fork to scrape the strands of “spaghetti” from the skin of the spaghetti squash. Add spaghetti squash to skillet. Chop the bacon and add to the skillet; then toss the spaghetti strands until coated with sauce and mixed in. Taste and add salt and pepper as desired. Serve immediately sprinkled with Parmesan cheese, if desired.

*Note: I realize that some may criticize me for including this recipe on a healthy cooking blog because of the (*gasp*) bacon. Before you jump into a tizzy fit, let me just explain myself a minute. I’ve included the bacon in this recipe for a good reason. In the words of Mary Poppins, “Just a spoonful of sugar helps the medicine go down.” That trick also works when you’re trying to change your family’s diet. Sometimes before our tastes change completely we need a little “bad stuff” to get the good stuff down. This recipe is packed with healthy vegetables and whole foods and yes, a little bit of bacon. So here’s what I’d say. If you’re making it for the first time, throw in the bacon. And then each time after that, put less and less and then trying eliminating it completely and see if anyone complains (just use a little olive oil to saute the garlic instead).

Recipe Source: healthyfamilycookin.blogspot.com

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