Monday, April 25, 2011

Gluten-Free Me?--Spaghetti Squash with Bolognese and Smashed Potatoes

I love pasta.

It's quick, it's easy, it's versatile, and the perfect vehicle for any variety of creative sauces.

However, at one point in my life, I had to part with my beloved pasta in order to figure out some crazy stomach issues I was having. You see, gluten intolerance runs in my family--Celiac's to be specific. About a year ago I thought that I might have it, as occasionally and seemingly without reason my stomach decides to wage war on me. So, as an experiment, I decided to go cold-turkey on the gluten and see if it made the problem go away.

Honestly, all week I was hoping it wouldn't. A life without pasta was not something I wanted to consider.

Rice pasta you say? Well yes, there are other options. But that dang college-student budget did not allow me to buy a $6 box. I did get some gluten-free waffles though, they were lovely. Rice bread though, not so much.

Fortunately (or, really, unfortunately) after two weeks of nothing changing, I caved and devoured a Shrimp Rossini after my shift at Bertucci's. A blood test confirmed that I did not have Celiac's, and it's becoming more and more clear that dairy may be the culpret, though not all dairy and not all the time.

Ahhh I don't even know. The stomach issue hasn't reared its ugly head in months now, so hopefully it won't show up again any time soon.

But it does run in my family. My cousins didn't even know they had it for a long time, and had to get three different blood tests before it showed up. Also a friend of mine discovered she had a gluten intolerance in her mid-30s, so bad that she was passing out and had no idea why. So it is a very real possibility that in the future I may have to bid adeiu to my dear pasta and bread and all that. Not to mention that, even if I'm not officially gluten-free, I do notice a sort of uncomfortable bloaty feeling after too much bread and pasta.

If that happens, it's good to know the wonders of the Spaghetti Squash.

I'd heard of this magical gourd before, but never tried it. If you have the time to wait for it to bake, it's extremely easy to do.

How to Cook a Spaghetti Squash

1. Cut squash in half length-wise

2. Scoop out seeds and pulp (you can toast the seeds as you would pumpkin seeds!)

3. Bake at 350 degrees F for 40 minutes, cut side down.

4. Turn over and bake an additional 10 minutes or until a fork pierces the skin easily

5. Use a fork to pull the squash strands from the squash

6. Dress as you would pasta!

Now, the consistency of the squash will be crisp. If you don't like it to be so very al dente, you can do what I did and microwave it in a covered glass bowl with 1/4 cup water in the bottom. I also added a lot of butter.

For the Bolognese I used this recipe for homemade marinara sauce, plus mushrooms and some roasted red peppers, and added it to cooked, drained hamburger. Not sure how authentic it is, but it sure was good!

I accompanied it with these amazing smashed potatoes!--I understand there is too much starch here, but I'd been wanting to try this recipe foreverr... They're a variety pack of Trader Joe's fingerling potatoes (LOVE the blue ones!), and a recipe I jotted down but entirely lost the website it was from. If you know please tell me so I can make the appropriate link :)

Smashed Potatoes

  • 1 bag tiny potatoes
  • Drizzles of olive oil
  • Seasonings of your Choosing! (I did half with just fresh garlic and salt and pepper, and half with a combination of cayenne pepper, garlic powder, onion powder, and freshly ground pepper)

-Rinse potatoes and put in a large saucepan and cover with water so that there is at least an inch of water above them.

-Bring pot to a boil, then simmer until potatoes are tender. Once tender, drain and rinse with cold water.

-Allow potatoes to cool to room temperature, then arrange on a greased cookie sheet. Use the flat side of a large knife to gently crush the potatoes to 1/2" thick.

-Sprinkle with olive oil and salt, then seasonings. Bake at 450 degrees F for about 30 minutes, or until crisp.

This was a lovely, gluten-free meal, and one I know I could repeat on a regular basis if need be :)

Salad: cukes, cherry tomatoes, carrot shreds
topped with caprese dressing


  1. Yummy meal! Glad to hear that you're celiac free...that would be such a hard thing for pasta and bread lovers.

  2. I just recently discovered spaghetti squash; that plate looks great!

  3. What an awesome post! Great tutorial on spaghetti squash.

  4. Hi, lovely post on your discovery of gluten (or not), there is a short period that my brother too had to go through to find out and thank goodness it's not gluten that his intolerant to (he loves pasta!) Love spaghetti squash! Wish they have them in Singapore :)

  5. I would simply love to find the oven fries recipe with truffle oil you mentioned in the comment section of the How Sweet It Is blog!..I have a tiny bottle of it given to me by my french brother-in-law...and this looks like THE way to make use of this elixir!...Thanking you in advance!...Love your blog by the way...your humour and excellent writing style make the recipes that much more fun!!