Wednesday, November 6, 2013

spaghetti squash carbonara

     Somewhere in the midst the teen-age years, my kids learned that if there was activity in the kitchen late at night, their mom was hungry and most likely cooking something up. The girls knew it usually meant pasta... namely, what our bunch calls Midnight Pasta.
     They'd scoot in quickly, anxious to join the fun. I'd cook. They'd sit on bar stools, watch the progression and talk... and we'd laugh. A lot.
     Have you discovered the best way to find out what is really going on with your teens? Be busy doing something else and just listen. Be in the room, but not jumping in with advice, unless it's asked for.
     Make eye contact so they know you're listening. Serve them and don't ask for help cleaning up. Just listen. And smile.
     You may know of our family fave by another name, Spaghetti Carbonara... the real one. No cream. Just bacon and eggs, Parm and garlic with spaghetti and of course, loads of black pepper.
     Historically, carbonara was a Roman dish and presently has many versions, some of which are laden with unnecessary fat and calories.
     Since I'm trying to find healthier ways to eat, I've been experimenting with substituting veggies for pasta. I don't always feel a need to do this, but I've already got a spaghetti squash, so why not?
     I got the idea from a recipe of Emeril's. I wanted to make it compatible with Weight Watchers, so I cut the extra fat and pared down the ingredients. His recipe used pancetta, but I don't always love the flavor with this dish.
     I bought a couple of small packages of guanciale, (pronounced, gwon-cha-lay,) from Savannah River Farms, at our local farmers' market. Guanciale is the seasoned jowl, (or cheek) of a hog. It feels drier than bacon, containing both fat and lean.
      I used a very spare amount, mainly to impart flavor... and boy, did it! By roasting the spaghetti squash in advance, the dish comes together very, very quickly. Be ready. I served this with a mixed green salad. Serves 2. WW Points Plus 4
Ingredients
1 t. kosher salt
1 t. black pepper
1 spaghetti squash, cut in half
1- 1 1/2 c. water
1 oz. guanciale or bacon, chopped
2 cloves garlic, finely minced
1/2 c. Egg Beaters
2 T. Parmesan cheese
additional salt and pepper as needed
Directions
Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Cut the spaghetti squash in half lengthwise. Take a spoon and scrape out the seeds and the muck that comes with it. It will be like scraping out a cantaloupe. Discard those innards.
Sprinkle a baking dish, (I used glass) with salt and pepper. Place squash cut side down in dish and fill with about a quarter inch of water. The quantity of water will depend on the size of the squash. Mine was fairly small, so I used a 9 x 13 pan with about 1 1/4 c. water. Cover tightly with foil and bake for 1 to 1 1/2 hours or just until fork tender.
When squash is done, remove from oven and cool for a couple of minutes, so you can handle it. This time, take a fork and pull out the inside flesh. It will shred and resemble spaghetti noodles. Make sure you get all of it out. Discard the outer shell. Set squash aside.
Heat a large, non-stick pan on medium. Toss in the guanciale and cook til it begins to become translucent and sizzle-y. Add minced garlic. Did you notice I didn't add additional oil or butter? The guanciale has enough fat to bring the entire dish together.
While that's going on, stir together Egg Beaters, Parmesan and a little more black pepper. Take the squash and place it in the pan. Toss it around to coat with fat and garlic, then add the egg mixture. Continue to move the squash around until egg is cooked and squash it heated. Taste for additional seasoning and eat it immediately. No, really... IMMEDIATELY.
Oh. my. good. golly. gosh.
I'm eating a vegetable and it tastes like CARBonara. I'm eating a vegetable!

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