We don’t celebrate Thanksgiving in Denmark. This makes me a little sad since I am always game to get together with family, eat like a maniac, and celebrate the abundance that is my life.
Well, never mind that – I can make a ridiculously luxurious lunch for myself, sit in the quiet, snow-filled world that is Copenhagen, and count my blessings over a bowl of spaghetti squash. Why the heck not?
Spaghetti squash is something fairly new to me. Of course I often eat other winter squashes, such as butternut and acorn, but I can’t even remember the last time spaghetti squash made an appearance at my dinner table. Ages, I tell ya.
When someone from work ordered them a week ago to use in the restaurant, I got pumped to experiment with such a cool-concept vegetable. I mean, a squash whose insides turn into noodles?! Nature, you’ve done it again. Consider my mind blown and my heart melted.
Oh my Gosh, the Nutrition!
Winter squash rocks because it is a powerhouse veggie. Unlike summer squash (re: zucchini, crookneck, pattypan), winter squash has had a lot more time to develop and pump itself full of vitamins and minerals throughout its lengthy life on the stem. We’re talking oodles more vitamin A (in the form of beta-carotene), vitamin C, manganese, potassium, and even some extra dietary fiber thrown in just for kicks. This combination of nutrients spells good news for asthma sufferers, those with heart disease, elevated cholesterol, or inflammatory conditions such a rheumatoid and osteoarthritis.
The other bonus? Nature designed summer squash to be rather delicate, with a high water content for those hot summer days when we need a cool down. Naturally, their shelf life is rather short during our abundant harvest season when produce is plentiful. On the flip side, winter squash has a tough outer skin and lower water content, which allows it to be stored for a very long time – some varieties up to six months. This means that we can keep these vitamin bombs around for a long time after the first frost to provide our bodies with the nutrition we need to see us through the long months of winter when there is nothing fresh in sight.
Put that in your oven and roast it.
This dish is so yummy – like Oh my Gosh yummy. I wanted to create something totally special and seasonal, with rich, earthy flavours, and satisfying comfort. Everyone loves pasta and the way it is like getting a hug from the inside, right? Well, this dish comes pretty close, except that instead of that really heavy feeling you get after a plate of penne, spaghetti squash is filling in an energizing way. I bet you will be very surprised at how delicious it is all on its own, straight out of the oven – I nearly ate a meal-sized portion to myself before combining it with everything else. I just couldn’t stop myself! I’m totally wild!
Oh my Gosh, Spaghetti Squash
1 spaghetti squash
1 bunch kale
1 ½ cups cooked chickpeas (or 1 can)
3 cloves garlic
pinch crushed chilies
¾ cup toasted hazelnuts
Pecorino Romano (hard sheep’s milk cheese)
1. Preheat oven to 400°F.
2. Prepare the spaghetti squash by cutting it in half lengthwise, removing the seeds, rubbing the inside of each half with a drizzle of olive oil, then seasoning with salt and pepper. Place face down on a lined baking tray and place in the oven – cook for about 45 minutes.
3. While the squash is baking, prepare the rest of the filling. Wash kale well and remove the tough center rib of each leaf. Roughly chop kale into small pieces.
4. Heat oil, ghee, or butter in a frying pan, then add minced garlic, crushed chilies to taste, and a pinch of sea salt. Cook 2 minutes until fragrant, then add chopped kale and cook until the leaves are bright green and just starting to lose structure. Throw in the chickpeas and cook just to warm. Remove from heat.
5. Remove squash form the oven when it is cooked through. Using a fork, scrape out the insides, which will pull away from the shell in strands, like spaghetti (whoa). Place all strands in a bowl, and toss with the kale and chickpea mixture. At this point you can either serve it from the bowl, or mix it everything together and place back in one half of the empty squash shells for a beautiful presentation. Sprinkle with chopped toasted hazelnuts and shaved Pecorino Romano. Enjoy.
I wish everyone out there a truly beautiful Thanksgiving; we sure have a lot to celebrate.
This year I am grateful for so many things: the incredible people in my life, a job that I love everyday, the warm food in my belly, sound sleep in the night. I also want to give thanks to you for reading this, for caring, and for getting back in the kitchen again to feed your body with the food it deserves. Even though we’ve probably never met, I can feel us standing side by side at our cutting boards, making so much more than dinner.