I have a new favorite super food.
Is it considered a super food? I don’t know. I just made that up. It’s SUPER to me, so that makes it a super food, right? Right. That’s my story and I’m stickin’ to it.
A co-worker introduced me to this amazing squash a few weeks ago. I had been seeing so many recipes using this as a sub for pasta, but I was a skeptic. I’m a little funny about squash and it’s texture after it’s cooked. After trying her Italian sauced dish I was hooked! I’ve made a few different dishes with it and last night’s treat was my favorite, by far.
I found a spaghetti squash and broccoli mac n cheese recipe on Pinterest. It looked yummy and I knew that if I wasn’t eating real noodles I could splurge on the cheese and not feel guilty. When I looked into the recipe further I realized I was going to make a few changes to a.) accommodate my small town resources and b.) amp up the protein and flavor factors.
If you’re new to spaghetti squash it can seem intimidating to cook, but I’ve tried roasting AND microwaving and I am here to tell you that microwaving it is THE way to go. I’m always in a hurry to get a meal on the table and this squash can take almost an hour to roast. Ten minutes in the microwave and your set (and the flavor is NOT compromised).
Here’s how you prepare it in the microwave. Split the squash in half lengthwise and scoop out all the seeds and strings. (Discard these or sort out the seeds and roast them like pumpkin seeds.) Fill one of the halves about 1/4 of the way with water. Place the other half on top to make it “whole” again. Carefully place in the microwave in a glass dish or on a plate and nuke on high for at least 10 minutes or until tender when squeezed. Remove from the microwave. Be careful because it’s hotter than two hubs of H. E. double hockey sticks!!! Let it cool for a few minutes and then use a fork to gently scrape out the strands of the squash. You should be able to scrape all the way to the skin. One large squash should yield about 4 cups of “noodles”.
Okay so now that you know how to prepare the squash I’ll get down to business and share the recipe.
4 cups cooked spaghetti squash (or the contents of one large squash)
3 cups broccoli florets, steamed
1 5 oz. can reduced sodium chunk light tuna, drained
2 tbsp olive oil
2 tbsp flour
2 cups 2% reduced fat milk
2 cups of your favorite shredded cheese
red pepper flakes
Tony Chachere’s Cajun seasoning
salt and pepper to taste
2 tbsp Parmesan cheese
Preheat oven to broil. Lightly spray a medium baking dish with non-stick spray.
Prepare the squash as instructed above and place in a large bowl. Add the steamed broccoli florets and drained tuna. Mix well. Lightly salt to season.
In a medium sauce pan heat olive oil over medium heat. Add flour and mix until bubbly. Quickly whisk in milk and continue to stir until slightly thickened. Remove from heat and stir in cheese until thoroughly melted. Add Cajun seasoning, salt and pepper to taste. Once cheese is melted pour over the squash, broccoli and tuna mixture and stir until completely coated. Pour into the baking dish and lightly and evenly sprinkle with more Cajun seasoning, red pepper flakes and Parmesan cheese. Place under broiler until golden and the top starts to brown slightly.
If you want to add more flavor boosters mince a few cloves of garlic and about 3 tablespoons of yellow onion and saute in the olive oil prior to adding the flour. Since this dish was a last-minute idea on my part I used shredded colby jack cheese. Next time I’ll use a combination of this and pepper jack cheeses. If you love sharp cheddar, then, by all means, use that. The flavors that this dish could take on are limitless. I may even add diced tomatoes or steamed asparagus next time. The protein could be switched up with chicken or shrimp as well. If you’re feeling especially naughty I’d even try kielbasa sausage.
This is making me hungry again just thinking about all my options with this dish!! I may not be able to wait until lunch to eat this again.
Above all, I was extremely pleased with the skinny on this dish. The original website said it had almost 300 calories for 1/4th of the recipe. Well, friends, I DOUBLED the sauce because who likes dry mac n cheese and I added the tuna. I was REALLY excited to find out that 1/5th of MY version was only 360 calories!!!
The skinny: Serving size: 1/5th of dish, Calories: 360/serving, Carbohydrates: 20g, Fat: 20g, Protein: 21g, Sodium: 422 mg, Sugars: 9g
On a final note I will add that this was another hit with Grady and Monkey. They both really loved it. Grady’s only suggestion was that it needed more spice. I followed the recipe closer than usual since it was my first attempt so next time I will be adding the onion, garlic, pepper jack cheese and a little more heat. Tucker, of course, didn’t care for it, but his mind was made up before he tried it since he saw green broccoli floating around in there.
If you love cheesy broccoli, if you love homemade mac n cheese, if you love being brave and adventurous you will LOVE this meal.
Peace, love and fun fake outs!!!