So this is the time of year for over indulging. I don’t think it is written in stone that we have to, but it seems so hard not to right now. My theory is that Christmas is pretty much incidental. Rather it is the cold weather, and no prospect of spring on the horizon and the long nights and short days that result in us consuming everything edible in sight and knocking back the booze like it is going out of fashion. Call it the holiday season, but basically, for me at least, it’s darkness induced boredom followed by the inevitable crash and cravings. But it doesn’t have to be this way; there are ways that we can get the comfort food that we all need right about now without feeling that we need to reach for that list of New Year’s resolutions and dusting it off a bit. Honestly.
Fortunately, the way around this Christmas crash/ binge cycle is to make the best of what is available to us naturally at this time. It’ll save you money as well. Have a look around your local market, or your veg patch, if you’re lucky enough to have one and you’ll notice that lots of starchy sweeter vegetables are coming into their own, paving the way for gorgeous creamy gratins, comforting soups and bulked up stews. Squashes are no exception, providing much needed starch but, unlike many other forms of starch, more vitamins and minerals including vitamin A and C, B vitamins, potassium and manganese, and of course, fibre. And one of this family, spaghetti squash, is a perfect switch for regular pasta at this time of year. Its long thin strands are more than reminiscent of their pasta equivalent and its low GI and high fibre content will leave you happily feeling full for longer, but if you eat a cup of it, you’ll only be consuming 42 calories instead of 221 calories. If you’ve never tried spaghetti squash, give it a go. It is not as sweet as a butternut squash, so can be paired with lots of different sauces and can stand up to many robust flavours, but be warned, it does need slightly longer cooking time than regular spaghetti!
Spaghetti Squash with Herby Mushroom Sauce Recipe
2- 3 spaghetti squashes (but possibly only 1, depending on size. Do not worry about leftovers, they can be kept, covered in the fridge for a few days)
750 g mushrooms (I used 400g chestnut mushrooms, 350g of my favourites shitakes)
3 cloves garlic
300g petit pois (I used frozen at this time of year)
Herb paste, made from the recipe found here, using 100g of mixed herbs.
2 tbsps creme fraiche (soured cream would do)
Salt and pepper
Prick the squashes all over, then put in the oven for around an hour and roast at 180 deg. C.
Crush your garlic and leave to one side. Slice your mushrooms, then fry in a little olive oil for around 5 minutes or so. Do not over cook, you do not want a slimy sauce.
Chuck the garlic in and the frozen peas and move around the pan for about a minute. Take off the heat.
Blitz the ingredients together for the herb paste, and stir throughout the veg, with the creme fraiche. Loosen with a few tablespoons of boiling water if necessary and check the seasoning.
When the squash is finished, take out of the oven, then cut in half. Take out the seeds, then the flesh, forking it through into strands as you go.
Toss the sauce through the squash strands, then sprinkle over a few shavings of parmesan cheese. Serve alongside a delicious tomato salad, dressed with some lemon juice, thyme, sea salt and olive oil. Enjoy!