Ok, are you ready? This is one of my favourite meals of the cold weather. We have a few more weeks of winter ahead, so read on for a healthy, delicious meal.
When I was little, my great aunt often served a side dish of spaghetti squash with tomato sauce. I could never quite wrap my head around how the squash got to be so much like spaghetti and would spend meal time utterly transfixed with the texture and the taste of the squash. Mind. Blown.
Fast forward to this winter, I was drawn to a tomato and ginger sauce for pasta in the Dean and Deluca cookbook. I was a little hesitant to add ginger to tomato sauce, as I’m one quarter Italian, and didn’t want to mess with a good thing. But I decided to be adventurous and try it one Sunday afternoon, and was pleasantly surprised. So delicious. When I finished the sauce (which is ridiculously good on its own, FYI), I decided that I wanted to add turkey. I decided that this ridiculously delicious sauce would be perfect on my childhood favourite, spaghetti squash. And so, after some tweaks, this delicious dish was born.
If you’re a vegetarian, substitute tempeh for the turkey (but be sure that it’s organic – I love Noble Bean tempeh).
The ingredients are true superstars. Here’s why you want them:
Spaghetti squash is a delicious alternative to pasta. For one, it’s naturally gluten-free, so won’t contribute to any uncomfortable belly bloat. Spaghetti squash is high in fibre, which benefits digestion, detoxification and blood sugar regulation. It’s also an excellent source of antioxidant vitamins A, C, and the mineral manganese. Spaghetti squash is also anti-inflammatory, as it contains omega-3 fats in the form of alpha-linolenic acid (ALA). It’s also a great source of the B-complex vitamins, which are necessary for energy production, liver, adrenal and nervous system function. B-vitamins are also necessary for maintaining body temperature and energy levels.
Ginger is one of the best things you can eat to improve digestion. It helps to break down fats and proteins, and can also help to reduce nausea and bloating. Ginger is also anti-inflammatory, thanks to its constituents called gingerols.
Onions and garlic are members of the allium family, and contain sulfur compounds, one of which is allicin, responsible for both vegetables’ strong smell and taste. Both onions and garlic help to support detoxification, stimulate the immune response and reduce inflammation. Onions are loaded with quercetin, a flavonoid that acts as a powerful antioxidant. Another interesting tidbit: the antioxidants in garlic and onion help to protect oil from heat damage when sautéing.
Turkey, aside from offering that celebratory vibe, is a good source of protein, B-vitamins and minerals. Turkey is also high in the antioxidant micro-mineral selenium, which helps the immune system fight off infections, regulates thyroid hormones, and regenerates other antioxidants, such as vitamin C. A note on sourcing meat: Try to find organic and happy turkey (and all meat that you eat, for that matter). Organic, happy animals are fed higher quality food (no GMO feed), do not receive antibiotics or growth hormones, are treated with more kindness and respect, and get to see the sun. Even though happy meat is more expensive, it is so much better for you. Buy organic, happy meat and just eat a little less;) I buy meat from the Healthy Butcher in Toronto. They’ve summarized the benefits of organic meat in this post.
Tomato Ginger Spaghetti Squash with Ground Turkey or Tempeh
2 spaghetti squash, cut in half horizontally and seeds removed
1 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
Celtic sea salt and pepper
Tomato Ginger Sauce
1 lb ground turkey or 1 block tempeh, crumbled
1 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
1 medium red onion
4 cloves garlic
1” knob of ginger, minced
1 jar organic tomatoes
1” knob of ginger, grated
¼ cup parsley or cilantro, finely chopped
- Preheat the oven to 375. Drizzle each squash half with a little olive oil, sprinkle with a little salt and pepper and roast face down until soft, approximately one hour.
- While the squash is cooking, sauté the turkey or tempeh until crumbly and cooked through. Set aside. Meanwhile, crush and chop the garlic and chop the onion and allow to sit for ten minutes to activate the allicin compounds. Sauté the onion and garlic with the minced ginger in the olive oil in a saucepan over medium heat until fragrant. Add tomatoes and simmer for 20 minutes.
- NOTE: At this point, you may want to half-blend the sauce with an immersion blender to smooth it out and allow the beautiful ginger flavor to permeate the sauce. You could also run it through a food mill if you’re Italian, like me… this will keep the colour a vibrant red, as blending will expose your sauce to lots of oxygen, which will turn your sauce orange!
- Add the cooked turkey. If you want more zing, grate in one more inch of ginger, stir and season to taste with salt and pepper.
- Remove squash from the oven and top each half with sauce and herbs. Serve with a side of green veggies (I sauteed baby broccoli with garlic and chiles).
I hope you enjoy this as much as I do. Here’s to just a few weeks left of winter. xo Andrea