Baked Spaghetti Squash with Cauliflower Alfredo
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Once I learned how to properly cook a spaghetti squash, it was like a whole new world of delicious dinner opportunities opened up for me. Baked Spaghetti Squash is a delicious and nutritious veggie that you can use to make many traditional pasta dishes, completely guilt-free! Using the squash removes all of those evil carbs and supplies you with a much more wholesome batch of nutrients.
I've found, most of the time, that when I'm craving some sort of pasta dish, I'm actually missing the sauce, not necessarily the noodles. If you ask anyone who knows me, they'll tell you I'm a big proponent of sauces and condiments on everything! One of the more common pasta pairings, alfredo sauce, is rich and creamy and traditionally made with heavy cream, cream-cheese, and parmesan. So, by nature, an alfredo-based pasta dish is more of a "cheat meal" for anyone who is watching their diet. But, when you substitute all that dairy with cauliflower, AND swap the pasta for squash, you no longer need to consider this Italian classic as a cheat.
I'm half-Italian myself, so I take all Italian-inspired dishes that I cook very seriously! Unfortunately, many of those old, traditional staples are latent with animal products. Finding substitutes that actually hit the spot can be challenging, but this spaghetti squash and cauliflower combo makes a healthy dinner option that everyone can enjoy!
To prep the spaghetti Squash, and make it easy to cut and clean, I recommend piercing the squash with some holes on both sides, length-wise, and then placing it in the microwave for 3-5 minutes, depending on its size. This will soften the squash enough so you won't break your arm (or your knives) while trying to cut the sucker open. Use the pierced holes that you created as a guide to cut the squash open evenly. Once you have it opened up, scoop out the seeds and guts just like you would a pumpkin. Lightly spray the inside of each piece with some vegetable or olive oil spray and add some salt and pepper. *Pro Tip: Do not oversaturate the squash with oil or it will be too soggy in the end. Place both pieces, rind side up (face down), on an ungreased, foil-lined baking sheet, and pop it in the oven at 425°F for 25 minutes. If you want the edges to be a little charred, you can flip them over at the end and pop them back in the oven for another 10 minutes or so.
While the squash is baking away, you can start making your sauce. Steam the cauliflower until its nice and soft and then throw it into a food processor with the remainder of your sauce ingredients. I'm the type that likes my alfredo sauce to be on the saltier side, so I've added a bit of salt to the recipe in addition to the vegetable broth. You can certainly omit the salt though if that's not your thing. Also, you should know that because you're using raw onion and garlic, those flavors won't fully bloom at the beginning, so if you taste-test the sauce after a few spins in the food processor, it may taste a little funny. That's okay…trust the process! Once you've reached a nice, creamy consistency, transfer everything to a pot and simmer on MED-LOW heat for about 15 minutes. That's where the magic happens! Everything will slowly cook together and cause the veggies and spices to fully emerge, and then, it will taste more like a classic alfredo sauce!
When the squash is done cooking, take it out of the oven and flip both halves face-up. Shred the insides with a fork, add the sauce, and garnish with fresh basil. Plate it, dig in, and devour your glorious creation!