Recently, I’ve been looking into power foods, otherwise known as those foods that we should be eating on a regular basis. Some of these might include sweet potatoes, collards, broccoli, whole grains and many types of squash. Of course, there are many more that what I just listed, but I think you get the idea. What makes these foods “power” are the health benefits they offer, such as lowering blood pressure, fighting diseases such as cancer and so forth. Their vitamins and nutrients can’t be matched by much of what’s out there sitting on the store shelves.
One of our favorites, here in the household, is squash. Laura and I have always had an affinity for butternut squash, but spaghetti squash is a close second. While these two vegetables are quite distinct, their health benefits are on par with one another. Here take a look:
I like the idea of eating ingredients that offer massive amounts of vitamin A, potassium and fiber. I like it indeed.
With this in mind, I did a search through my trusted database of recipes over at Cook’s Country for a healthy dish that included squash. I wanted something that featured “non-guilt” eating as opposed to taste. Not that I wanted something to taste bland, I simply had a desire to avoid too much fat and salt. I think I hit the nail on this head with what I uncovered.
I found a recipe called Spaghetti Squash Salad with Chickpeas & Feta. Almost everything in the dish is good for you. If you don’t overdose on the salt and feta cheese, you should be in good shape. So, if you decide to try this recipe out for yourself, keep an eye on those two ingredients and do what you feel is right.
This dish has a nice lemony flavor. The juice and zest really shine through. It’s light in the mouth with some interesting texture thrown in by way of toasted hazelnuts, feta and chickpeas. Interesting, to say the least. I can definitely see preparing something like this for a picnic or summer barbecue, although, Laura and I enjoyed it as our main course last night.
1 Large Spaghetti Squash
Extra-Virgin Olive Oil
Regular Table Salt
Ground Black Pepper
3 Teaspoons Grated Lemon Zest
8 Teaspoons Lemon Juice
1 (15-ounce) Can of Chickpeas, Drained & Rinsed
3 Ounces Feta Cheese, Crumbled
1/2 Cup Fresh Parsley, Chopped
4 Scallions, Chopped
2 Tablespoons Hazelnuts, Pistachios or Pecans, Chopped & Toasted
The most time consuming step with this recipe is the baking and cooling of the spaghetti squash. It’s going to take about two hours, so plan accordingly. You want to be sure the squash is entirely cooled before moving forward with scraping out its flesh.
Before doing anything else, go ahead and pre-heat your oven to 375 degrees. Also, be sure to move the rack to the middle position.
Prepare Spaghetti Squash
The goal with this step is to soften the squash, while maintaining its moisture. To accomplish this, you’ll need to cut the squash in half lengthwise. Please be careful with this step, as I imagine bad things happening otherwise. Next, scrape the seeds out thoroughly. Once cleaned, brush some olive oil onto any exposed area – including the space the seeds occupied. You want to create a shield of oil between the squash and the heat from the oven.
After that, place each half of squash on a baking sheet so the open sides are facing down. Place in oven and bake for about 45 minutes. The test to see if they’re finished is to stick a knife into each one, through the skin. If the knife goes in easily, they’re good to go. If not, keep baking until it does.
Once the squash has been cooked to perfection, remove the baking sheet and let everything cool for at least an hour on your stove top. You can flip the squash over to hasten this step. What you don’t want to do is handle the squash while it’s hot. That’s not fun for the hands.
Finally, once the squash has cooled, take a fork and scrape the insides out, into a large bowl. Be sure to leave the skin intact, as you don’t want any pieces falling in with the flesh.
What you should end up with is a bowl of something that resembles regular spaghetti.
Prepare the Vinaigrette
In a medium sized bowl, add the 3 teaspoons grated lemon zest, the 8 teaspoons of lemon juice, 1/4 cup of extra-virgin olive oil, 1/2 teaspoon of regular table salt and 1/2 teaspoon of ground black pepper. Once together, combine thoroughly with a whisk.
After that, pour the vinaigrette into the large bowl, on top of the spaghetti squash, and mix together.
Add Final Ingredients
In the large bowl with the squash, add in the 15-ounce can of rinsed chickpeas, the 3 ounces of crumbled feta cheese, the 1/2 cup of fresh chopped parsley, the 4 chopped scallions and the chopped and toasted hazelnuts (or whichever nut you chose to include).
Mix all the ingredients together well.
Plate & Serve
Once all the ingredients are combined and have been mix well, go ahead and plate. I found that a pair of tongs worked well for this step. The spaghetti squash is slippery, so a spoon or fork didn’t perform nearly as effectively.
The Final Dish
As I mentioned, this is a light, tasty and healthy dish. Give it a try and enjoy!
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