Spaghetti Squash Rustica

I feel a bit like I’m hopping on a bandwagon by developing a recipe featuring spaghetti squash.  It’s the low-carb, gluten-free darling of the veggie world these days.  However, while I respect every dietary lifestyle people choose to lead, it isn’t why I chose to make this dish.  I made it using spaghetti squash because we genuinely like it and we were stuck in the roast-shred-add garlic, butter and sauté mode.  Tasty, but kinda boring.  And boring just won’t do.

When I was in college, my Mom and I went to Macaroni Grill for lunch on Fridays.  It was our routine and it gave us a chance to connect as I was becoming more and more independent.  I ordered the Penne Rustica and she ordered Chicken Marsala or Eggplant.  When I got married, Husband sometimes joined us and when my oldest daughter was born, we included her too.  We did this for three years, until I moved overseas.  We didn’t have a Macaroni Grill and I missed the lunch dates.  No Macaroni Grill, no Penne Rustica, No Mom.

When I want to get back a feeling or revisit a timeframe, I do what I can to recreate it.  Play music, make food, spray a perfume or watch a movie or tv show.  So I tried my hand at making a copycat version of the Penne Rustica.  It turned out really good and made it’s way onto our dinner menus occasionally.  Fast forward to today, and home-made Penne Rustica was the only way we ate it, as the quality of Macaroni Grills plummeted and they eventually began closing.

Since we liked the Penne Rustica and we were bored with the spaghetti squash, it dawned on me one day to combine the two.  And I don’t know why I didn’t think of it earlier.  It was SO good.  We crowded around the pan just after the photo was taken and concentrated on devouring every single morsel.  I guess you could say we liked it just a little.  I hope you will too.  Take a look at the photo, and here’s the recipe:

Squash Rustica

Spaghetti Squash Rustica

1 medium Spaghetti Squash

1 T. Butter

1 T. Garlic, minced

2 T. White Wine (I used Sauvignon Blanc)

3/4 c. Heavy Cream

1/2 c. Parmesan Cheese, grated

1/2 c. Milk

1/4 c. Low Sodium Chicken Broth

2 t. Cornstarch

2 t. Dijon Mustard

1 t. Rosemary, minced

1/4 t. Thyme

Olive oil

Salt and Pepper

4 slices Prosciutto, cut into strips (may use Ham)

1/2 lb. Medium Shrimp (peeled and deveined)

Parsley for garnish (if desired)

Heat oven to 400. Line a baking sheet with aluminum foil.  Cut Squash in half lengthwise and scrape out and discard seeds. Drizzle with Olive Oil and sprinkle with salt and pepper.  Bake for 45 min to 1 hour, or until the Squash easily shreds with a fork.

Meanwhile, make the sauce.  Melt Butter in a medium saucepan.  Add Garlic and cook for 3-4 minutes, but do not let it brown.  Add the Wine, and cook for another 3-4 minutes. Add the rest of the ingredients, through the Thyme and whisk until smooth.  Let sauce simmer until it has thickened, about 10 minutes. Season with a little salt and pepper, keeping in mind the Parmesan and Prosciutto will add some salt to the dish as well.

In a small skillet, add the strips of Prosciutto (or Ham) and sauté until just crisp.  Set aside.  If needed, add  little Olive Oil to the pan and sauté the Shrimp just until pink. Set aside.

To assemble, pour the sauce over  the shredded Squash.  Mix gently to combine.  Pour into an oven safe dish.  Top with Prosciutto, Shrimp, extra Rosemary and Parmesan Cheese.  Garnish with Parsley, if desired.  Bake in preheated oven for 5-10 minutes, or until top is bubbly.  Serve with a salad and bread, if you wish.

You can also add grilled chicken to this dish, which was included in the restaurant version.  We happen to love shrimp, so we went without.  This also doubles easily to serve larger portions or more people.  If you want, put individual portions in ramekins or gratin dishes.  It’ll make everyone feel special and you look like a culinary champ. Enjoy!

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