For better or for worse, some of my childhood memories are intensely vivid. Up until quite recently, I’d feared one experience in particular had scarred me for life: my mother forcing a very young me to eat half a corn squash before I would be allowed to have dessert.
Throughout most of my young adult life, the trauma from that night could not be overemphasized when exploring the reasons for my abhorrence of squash. How dare my mother insist upon literally force feeding me – I mean standing over me, shoving fork-fulls of such a grotesque vegetable onto my sweets-craving taste buds!
OK, so perhaps that’s a bit hyperbolic. Still, as a child, in that instant, I remember feeling a unique sense of having been wronged, not only by my mother, but by the squash itself. It would be years – this time literally, for real – before I would ever allow squash the dignity of sharing space on my plate again. When I did, it was a complete accident…
Fast forward a few more years and here I am, a squash-liking, veggie-eating mostly grownup who still loves her dessert, but in a crazy twist of fate actually self-imposes “eat my veggies or no dessert” rules.
Don’t get me wrong, it’s not like I go out of my way to eat squash; I just don’t avoid plates that contain it either. Generally, it has to still be mixed with something else I like to be appealing to me. Which is why this new dish was an absolute win in my book:
Chicken Alfredo over Spaghetti Squash
This came to me as another eMeals low-carb recipe, and I’ll definitely be making it again. I mostly followed the directions this time, and it was super simple and scrumptious. Who knew pasta could be so indiscriminately replaced with veggies?! Well, obviously someone did:
1. Boil 2 (4oz) boneless chicken breasts in water for 20 minutes. Cool and shred.
OK, having never shredded chicken before, I had to use my creativity right away. It didn’t take too much effort. I just grabbed two forks (I wasn’t patient enough to wait for the stuff to cool and use my fingers) and stabbed with one while I pulled on the surface with the other. Voila: shreds.
2. Cut 1 small spaghetti squash in half and clean out seeds. Put in a microwaveable dish with ¼ cup water and cover with plastic wrap. Microwave on high for 8 to 10 minutes. Scrape pulp with fork to collect strings.
If you’ve ever carved a pumpkin, the first part’s easy. Seriously though, the second part is where they should tell you to let the dang thing cool. My fingers were burning even through my oven mitts when I tried to hold these suckers and get at their innards.
3. Spray baking dish with cooking spray. Spread squash in bottom of dish.
No prob, Bob.
4. Sauté ¼ onion and 4oz sliced mushrooms in butter until onions are tender.
This shouldn’t come as a surprise, but I use pre-sliced mushrooms, so I have no idea how many I threw into my lil sauté pan. Same goes for the onions. What I do know is how much butter I used – likely more than necessary, but in this area I’m completely in agreement with Julia Childs… at least as far as I understand her viewpoint on butter as per the movie Julie & Julia.
5. Add ½ (12 oz) bag broccoli florets; stir in ½ 16oz jar Alfredo sauce. Bring to simmer. Season with salt and pepper.
Just assume I didn’t use anywhere close to the correct measurements for any of the above. The simmering and seasoning were smashing successes though.
6. Place chicken on top of squash in baking dish. Pour sauce over chicken and sprinkle with parmesan cheese. Bake at 350 degrees for 15 min. until bubbly.
Done and done! Tah-dah!!!