Hard to believe, but my vegetarian challenge is already coming to an end. The last two weeks filled with organic apples, farm store lettuce and oven fresh bread have been an eye-opening experience. To finish off my vegetarian eating with a bang, my last supper will be a fun, unexpected dish of spaghetti squash. Yes, you read that right, spaghetti squash.
For those of you who have not yet enjoyed this amazing vegetable, it has a very unassuming, pale ivory, cylinder exterior. But looks are deceiving, for after cooking, the flesh of the squash yields surprisingly convincing spaghetti noodle shaped strands. Even better, a four-ounce serving of spaghetti squash has only 37 calories. Available year-round, spaghetti squash season peaks from early fall through winter which means that the next few months will be the perfect opportunity to try my recipe below.
Spaghetti squash with tomato mushroom sauce
Preparing squash "noodles"
Pierce the shell of a spaghetti squash several times with a large fork and place in baking dish. Cook squash in preheated 375°F oven approximately 1 hour until flesh is tender.
Once the squash is cooked, let it cool for 10 to 20 minutes before cutting in half and removing the seeds. Pull a fork lengthwise through the flesh to separate it into long strands. Drain any excess liquid and transfer the "noodles" onto a plate.
Tomato mushroom sauce
Chop half of a large, sweet onion and caramelize over low heat. Pour in a can of tomato sauce and add a cup each of diced fresh tomatoes and mushrooms. Let sauce simmer for three minutes, then add a few leaves of basil. Pour sauce over the squash noodle strands.
Your unique spaghetti dish is now ready to serve with some crusty bread or a fresh salad.
Last thoughts on the challenge
In two weeks of vegetarian eating I haven't magically lost weight, nor has my complexion suddenly cleared (which a vegetarian I met while grocery shopping swore was the secret to great skin!). I do not detect very many physical changes, but two weeks is probably too short for a drastic metamorphosis. Eating vegetarian was not as big a sacrifice as I thought it was, and in truth I did not even miss those coveted burgers that much.
The benefits to the environment are huge. I believe that each person should try to make a commitment to go vegetarian, if not completely, then for one week every month. Meat has become so ingrained into the American culture with such iconic dishes as hot dogs and BBQ ribs spotlighting the meat. But if we each take it upon ourselves to make a lifestyle change, even solid paradigms can shift. As for myself, this will not be an end. I will make the commitment to continue with my vegetarian diet for at least two weeks out of every month. I view this as a launch pad to a greener future, one veggie burger at a time!