So I cooked spaghetti last night, one of the kids’ favorites, even when I use a pre-made sauce and just toss in extras (which typically happens on days when I don’t decide to fix sauce early enough to slow cook it for several hours). I used a bottle of Prego Bacon & Provolone—specifically chosen for my son who loves both—added a handful of crumbled pork sausage, a double handful of crumbled turkey sausage, some diced onion, diced celery, diced carrots, and a small can of black olives.* For the kids and the wife, I boiled a pot of water and dumped in a double handful of pre-made noodles. I don’t know how to make my own. Never learned.
Anyway, for myself, I prepped a spaghetti squash.
Read any modern weight loss book, those that say anything wheat or gluten-based is bad (i.e., the food of the devil), and the spaghetti squash is held up as the vegetable to pour all that sauce on.** Microwave it. Open it up. Scoop out the seeds. Shred the flesh out with a fork, and it looks and tastes just like spaghetti.
Or maybe it doesn’t.
My daughter walks in as I am wrestling the jumbo-sized, peanut-shaped pumpkin out of the microwave and says, “What’s that?”
She wanders back out to eat her dinner as a reply.
I drop the squash onto the cutting board and notice the skin has split in a couple of places. Grabbing paper towel and knife, I set to work cutting it open.
Ouch. Hot. Fingers burning.
Mind you, I’ve allowed the thing to sit for at least twenty to thirty minutes while I finished cooking the remainder of the dinner, fixed plates for the kids, had them set out napkins and helped them get their drinks and so on. The squash is still hot enough to cook an egg inside.
I slice the thing open and look inside.
It looks like . . . squash. Granted, the stringy flesh holding the seeds in place looks somewhat like spaghetti. In dim light. With my eyes closed.
My daughter walks back in about then and says, “It looks like pumpkin. Ewwww.”***
Now, to scrape the flesh, I take hold of the fork with one hand and the open half squash with the other—and burn my hand doing so.
Gritting my teeth and muttering something about eating healthy being for the birds, I take out the oven mitts, but they’re too awkward, and the squash spins across the counter top. Back to paper towels. More of them.
Scrape. Scrape. Ouch. Hot. Blow on finger tips.
Scoop out flesh into a bowl. Scrape some more.
Twenty minutes later (or an hour, I don’t know, when being tortured time stretches) I’ve managed to remove as much of the insides of the squash as I care to dig for and, truth told, I most likely missed at least a quarter of it. But after I set aside the skin and look at the bowl I’ve scooped the flesh into, I realize that it doesn’t look like spaghetti. It doesn’t look like pumpkin, really, which resembles a glob of orange-colored glue. Shredded spaghetti squash looks a bit like yellow-colored rice.
It tastes rather bland, alone, with a slight buttery quality to the texture. Mixed with the sauce, however, it was worth the effort.
If I can figure out how to get the flesh from the thing without burning my fingers off, I might pick up spaghetti squash again. Otherwise, I’ll stick with evil semolina wheat.
Oh, and we decided that the Prego Bacon & Provolone sauce is a pretty good base (but it smells terrible when it starts cooking).
*I love black olives. Every time the family and I visit Olive Garden, they give me whatever olives they find in the salad. But my son has decided he some times likes black olives with the pepperoni on pizza.
**Well, OK, so only half a cup of the sauce. Don’t want to get too carried away.
***My daughter is always wanting to carve pumpkins at Halloween. But this is the reaction I know she’ll have, so I’ve never done it because I know I’d be doing all the work.