Two things I love: Spaghetti squash and mexican food. So why not mix them together? Everyone thinks of spaghetti squash simply as a traditional spaghetti replacement but there are endless possibilities. The mild flavor of spaghetti squash allows it to be prepared in so many different ways and some spice and black beans can really elevate this food! Not in to Mexican dishes but want to try spaghetti squash? Check out my Italian Style Spaghetti Squash w/ a Roasted Seed Recipe and my Spaghetti Squash with Peas and Avocado Walnut Pesto (the latter is my personal fave). This meal was even more delicious because we were enjoying the last of the jalapenos and tomatoes we had grown in our harden this season. So sad to say goodbye to super fresh tomatoes for the winter. 😦
Southwest Spaghetti Squash (GF, V, DF)
Ingredients (see below for beneficial properties of these ingredients):
1 Medium Spaghetti Squash (3-4 lbs)
2 Tablespoons olive oil
3-4 cloves minced organic garlic (about 2 Tbsp minced)*
2 jalapenos, minced
1 habanero, minced (optional)
2 Medium organic red onion, chopped
2 large bell peppers, chopped
2-3 large tomatoes, chopped
2-3 Cups black beans prepped from dry or canned
1/4 C chopped fresh cilantro
Salt and pepper to taste
*Purchasing tips: Trader Joe’s sells bags of organic onions for next to nothing! Bulk garlic, organic spinach, and all the spices with * can be purchased at BJ’s and likely other clubs like Costco.
Cooking the squash:
This can be done while you prep the rest of the ingredients, or you can cook the squash ahead of time so its easier to throw this meal together during a busy week
-Preheat your oven to 350 degrees F
-Take your spaghetti squash and carefully cut in half lengthwise. The first cut may seem difficult but once the knife is in its a lot easier to cut the rest of the squash.
-Dig out the seeds & pulp (pictured w/out seeds on left below)
-Save the seeds for the roasted seed recipe.
While the squash is cooking, you can prep the rest of your ingredients and get them cooking.
-Heat oil in a large sauce pan, or even stockpot, over medium
-Add the garlic and hot pepper, stir, reduce heat slightly and let cook for about 2 minutes
-Add the onions, tomatoes, and bell peppers, stir and cover. Let cook about 5 minutes, stirring on occasion.
-If using canned black beans, be sure to rinse and drain them well. Add beans to mixture and again stir and cover about 3-5 minutes.
-When the squash is done you should easily be able to stick a fork in through the skin
-Remove it from the oven (or fridge if you prepped ahead) & carefully flip so the flesh side is up
-With a fork, you’ll basically want to “rake” from one side to the other to remove the “spaghetti”
Since I don’t/can’t eat cheese, I added some homemade guacamole and cashew “parm” but you could also sprinkle some nutritional yeast on top if you are dairy free too. Tim added Organic Valley pasture raised raw sharp cheddar to amp up the southwestern flavor in his.
Real Ingredients with Real Benefits:
Spaghetti Squash isn’t going to provide you with tons of one specific nutrient but it will contribute a balanced amount of most vitamins and minerals to your diet especially Vitamins C & B6. What shines for spaghetti squash is the fiber & healthy carbohydrate content as well as the carotenoid antioxidants.
Black Beans are a great source of mono-unsaturated fat, potassium, Thiamin, Vitamin B6, iron, copper, magnesium & manganese. They also provide calcium. Phytochemicals include lutein, epicatechin, quercetin and proanthocyanidin – these benefit your eyes, reduce inflammation, and support the immune system.
Bell Peppers provide you with tons of Vitamin C (even more per serving than citrus!), lots of Vitamin A and fiber as well as Vitamin E, B6 and potassium. Phytochemicals include lycopene (associated with reduced risk for prostate cancer & heart disease) and the carotenoids lutein and zeaxanthin which are great for eye and cardiovascular health.
Tomatoes pack in lots of Vitamins A, C, and the important fluid balance mineral Potassium. They are well known in terms of phytochemical content for their lycopene which is known for reducing risk of prostate cancer. This was one of the first phytochemicals that really made a name for itself. But people forget that tomatoes also provide other carotenoids and flavonoids such as quercitin.
Red onions are a good source of Vitamins C & B6, folate and even provides potassium & magnesium. Onions are packed with phytochemicals known to promote cardiovascular and respiratory health.
Garlic provides a lot of the same benefits as onions including the phytochemical allicin as well as sulfides. Research on garlic links it to an improved immune system.
Jalapeno peppers contain capsaicin which has long been used for decreasing joint pain and inflammation topically but in the body may aid in appetite control, metabolism and intestinal inflammation. Oh and you aren’t the only one who gets a runny nose from spicy food – these peppers can all help clear your sinuses!
Cilantro may be an herb but herbs have fantastic nutrient profiles too. Cilantro provides vitamins A & K and many antioxidants, especially quercitin. Quercitin is a flavonoid linked to respiratory (great for asthmatics and athletes) and heart health.