Are any squashes edible to me? I can name two. The first is zucchini. The taste is mild and the texture is more vegetal than mealy. I have also found that I like spaghetti squash. Both varieties have mild enough flavors that can be covered with the right sauces.
Squash with sauce was quite important in the past six weeks because I was participating in the Whole Life Challenge. You can read more about it in the link for the specific rules, but there is one thing I had to do for six weeks. I had to cut out pasta and noodles of all kinds. If I wanted pasta that badly I either had to lose points, or find a substitute. The most common replacement for pasta on a grain-free diets are the two most tolerable members of the squash family. I hoped I could use them to make me miss pasta less.
For much of the challenge I didn't crave pasta, but last week I had a craving for sesame or peanut noodles. I was thinking of pad thai or the sesame noodles you get at Chinese restaurants as an appetizer (that are usually mostly peanut butter). I decided to try making something similar out of spaghetti squash.
My dilemma was whether or not I wanted the noodles to be peanut or sesame. Peanut butter can be heavy and gloppy and sesame paste can be bitter. I decided to use a mix of both sesame oil and natural peanut butter. I balanced that with soy sauce, rice vinegar, and lime juice. In the end it was probably a tad too acidic, but not bad. I would probably go with only one type of acid the next time.
I learned a trick online. If you put a spaghetti squash in the microwave for a few minutes, you can cut it in half more easily for roasting.
- 1 spaghetti squash
- 2 Tbl sesame oil
- 1/3 cup natural peanut butter
- 2 Tbl soy sauce*
- 2 Tbl rice vinegar
- Juice of 1 lime
- 2 Tbl coconut sugar**
- 2 tsp grated fresh ginger
- 1 tsp salt (or to taste)
- Sesame seeds for garnish
- Scallions for garnish
Heat oven to 375 degrees. Scoop out the pulp of the squash. Cook for 45 minutes. Cool until it's cool enough to handle and use a fork to scoop out the strands. Set aside.
Mix together the peanut butter, sesame oil, vinegar, lime juice, salt, sugar, and ginger. Toss with the squash. Garnish with scallions and sesame seeds.
* You can also use fish sauce. I find the fishiness in fish sauce is too pronounced in cold dishes, so I don't use it.
**You can also use brown sugar or palm sugar
Another popular substitute for pasta is "zoodles" or noodles cut from zucchini. This has become so popular, you can now buy special tools just to turn your vegetables into spaghetti. I admitted I cheated and bought pre-spiralized zoodles in the produce section for my next recipe. I don't think I will use a spriralizer enough to justify purchasing one.
One of my favorite pasta sauce in the world is pesto. As I have said many times before, it just tastes like summer to me. The Whole Life Challenge doesn't just forbid pasta and flour-based products. It also forbids dairy. That means my pesto can't contain parmesan. I decided to take on the challenge of pesto pasta that was compliant with the challenge and still tasted somewhat authentic.
Vegans and paleo dairy avoiders often use cashews as a substitute for cream or cheese. I decided to let them stand it for the cheese and the pine nuts in my sauce. Vegans use yeast to get a more cheese-like flavor, but I just used vinegar for the acidity.
This didn't taste like a summer pesto, but it made a flavorful side dish.
Zoodles in Dairy Free Pesto
- 2 cups spiralized zucchini "noodles"
- 1 cup raw cashews
- 2 cups water
- 2 cloves garlic
- 1 tsp salt (or to taste)
- 1 Tbl white wine vinegar
- 1 cup basil leaves
When you are ready to make the sauce, drain the nuts and reserve 1/4 cup of the water
Place the water, cashews, basil, garlic, salt, and vinegar in a food processor. Blend until you have a creamy green mixture.
Cook the zoodles in boiling water for two minutes. Drain and serve with the sauce.