Special to The Washington Post
— Low-carb and low-calorie Italian comfort food can be hard to find. Here, cooked and shredded squash stands in for wheat pasta as the base of a nutritious and filling main dish.
The spaghetti squash is roasted in this preparation; alternatively, it can be cooked in the microwave. To do so, use a sharp knife to puncture the whole squash about 12 times. Place on a microwave-safe plate and microwave on HIGH for 10 minutes. Cool completely, then cut in half lengthwise and remove the seeds and pulp. If the squash is not quite tender, microwave on HIGH for 5 minutes.
MAKE AHEAD: The squash can be roasted a day or two in advance and refrigerated. The sauce can be refrigerated for 3 to 5 days. Adapted from Elaine Gordon, a
Spaghetti Squash With Ground Turkey and Tomato Sauce
For the squash
1 medium spaghetti squash (about 4 pounds), rinsed well
3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
2 cups diced Vidalia or other sweet onion
12 white button mushrooms, stemmed, then sliced (about 2 cups)
1 cup frozen peas (optional)
1 medium zucchini, diced (optional)
1/4 teaspoon sea salt
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
14 1/2 ounces canned, diced Italian-style tomatoes, preferably no-salt-added, plus their juices
1/2 cup dry white wine
2 cloves garlic, pressed or minced
1 pound 95 percent lean ground white turkey meat or ground chicken breast
Freshly grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese, for garnish (optional)
For the squash: Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Cut the squash lengthwise in half, avoiding the stem. Place the halves cut sides up in a baking dish. Bake for about 45 minutes or until the flesh is easily pierced with a knife. Cool completely.
Meanwhile, make the sauce: Heat 2 tablespoons of the oil in a large saute pan over medium heat. Once the oil shimmers, add the onions, mushrooms, the peas and zucchini, if using, half the salt and half the pepper, stirring to coat. Cook for 10 minutes, stirring occasionally.
Stir in the tomatoes and their juices, the wine and garlic; cover and cook for 10 minutes to create a chunky sauce, breaking up the tomatoes as they cook.
Heat the remaining tablespoon of oil in a separate medium skillet over medium heat. Once the oil shimmers, add the meat. Season with the remaining salt and pepper. Cook for 15 minutes, using a wooden spoon to break up clumps. The meat should be completely browned. Stir into the sauce until well incorporated and heated through.
Scoop out the squash seeds; discard or reserve for another use. Use a fork (or two) to shred the squash flesh, dragging the fork through lengthwise. Transfer the resulting strands to a mixing bowl or serving platter. Discard the empty skins.
Spoon the sauce over the squash and toss to incorporate, or spoon evenly over the squash. Garnish with a sprinkling of the cheese, if desired. Serve right away.
NUTRITION Per serving: 300 calories, 17 g protein, 18 g carbohydrates, 13 g