Monday, November 30, 2015

Spaghetti Squash Stir Fry

Here’s one more November-y recipe before I dive into the treats of December (or at least the plans for some. It looks like it’s going to be a busy month.) It’s even a fairly healthy recipe, relatively low in calories and stuffed with vegetables. It’s a spicy stir fry with spaghetti squash at its center. Really.

I found myself intrigued by several recipes I came across on the internet for spaghetti squash Chow Mein.  I was all set to gather ingredients, when I thought: why have Chow Mein when I could have Kung Pao? And so I tapped into this chicken stir fry recipe for a spicier sauce, replacing ingredients based on what I had on hand, and coming up with a rather satisfying supper.

I was very pleasantly surprised by this dish. It turns out that spaghetti squash is a really good player in stir fry. It keeps its shape, rather than turning to mush in the wok, but has a delicate texture on the tongue, not feeling stringy or extra fibrous. Its flavor is gently sweet, but mild, so that takes on the flavors of the sauce surrounding it.

In addition to the fragrant, spicy sauce (which you can vary in spiciness as desired), I threw in some other vegetables, but nothing too fancy. I think bell peppers would be a good addition, as would thinly-sliced bok choy. Whatever goes in this dish, the spaghetti squash is really the surprising star. Cooked spaghetti squash in a hot wok with a spicy sauce. Who knew? Well, now we all do!

Spicy Spaghetti Squash Stir Fry
While I like this method of roasting spaghetti squash to get the tender, noodle-like strands, use whatever method you like. Also, feel free to cook the squash ahead of time to streamline your dinner-time prep.

1 medium spaghetti squash (about 2 ½ - 3 pounds)
½ cup Shaoxing wine or dry sherry
¼ cup soy sauce
2 tablespoons honey
¼ cup rice vinegar
2 teaspoons cornstarch
2 teaspoons dark sesame oil
3 tablespoons canola or peanut oil
1 cup chopped onion
1 cup chopped celery
1 tablespoon finely chopped garlic
1 tablespoon finely chopped ginger
4-6 dried red chile peppers
1 8-ounce can water chestnuts, sliced or chopped
1 cup chopped green onion
½ cup peanuts

1. Preheat oven to 350 F. Pierce the skin of the spaghetti squash. Place the squash on a baking sheet or in a roasting pan. Roast at 350 F for 20 minutes. Remove the squash from the oven and let cool until easy to handle. (The squash should now be easier to cut.) Cut the squash in half and scoop out the seeds and seed membranes.

2. Return the squash to the oven and roast another 45 minutes to 1 hour, or until the flesh of the squash can be scraped out to form strands. Cool the squash until easy to handle and scrape the flesh into a bowl. Set aside.

3. In a small bowl, combine the Shaoxing wine, soy sauce, honey, and rice vinegar. Whisk in the cornstarch until the mixture is very smooth. Add the sesame oil. Set this sauce mixture aside.

4. Pour the canola or peanut oil into a wok or large skillet. Heat on high heat until very hot. Add the onion and celery and cook, stirring constantly for 2-3 minutes or until the onion is browned. Stir in the garlic, ginger and chiles. Cook about 30 seconds more, being careful not to burn the chiles.

5. Add the cooked spaghetti squash and water chestnuts. Cook and stir until the squash has begun to brown. Stir in the green onions and cook about 1 minute more.

6. Pour the sauce mixture into the pan and stir. Bring to a boil and cook until slightly thickened. (It should boil quickly.) Stir in the peanuts. Remove from the heat. Serve with rice.

Makes about 4 servings.

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