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The Sassy Sandpiper: UN-Spaghetti and Meatballs

Wilson | Sassy Sandpiper | Columnist

By M.R. Wilson. TB Reporter

There were no Martha Stewart moments in creating this meal.

I’ll never forget my first spaghetti squash.

You should know right off the bat I am not one to read labels and follow directions. I did Google how to bake these pumpkin relatives but not how to cut them open.

So here’s this gorgeous pale yellow, football-sized gourd fresh from the farmer’s market. Made-from-scratch pasta sauce simmered on the stove. An hour, more or less, until my dinner guest arrived.

Only the family heirloom knife would do. “Wards Keen Edge” is stamped in block letters on the curvy blade. Imagine my shock when the knife barely nicked the squash skin. I’d expected it to cut like a cantaloupe or eggplant or some other nice, polite fruit. No way. I sawed hopelessly. Panic set in. I rummaged in drawers for heavier tools and grabbed a short, stocky serrated knife. The squash refused to be cut neatly lengthwise. I tried a lethally sharp blade and realized I was cruising toward slicing off fingers or impaling my hand or both. I needed a hatchet. Or a machete.

Short version: I went back to the short, stocky knife and plunged it deep into the Squash from Hell. It stuck. Would not pull out. So, I put a dishtowel on the floor and hammered open the gourd a few inches at a time. Not a Martha Stewart moment.

Upon retelling this story to my son, I learned that one minute on high in the microwave will soften the tough epidermis of spaghetti squashes. It even says so on the produce sticker.

These delicious pasta alternatives have since submitted with much less trauma. They’re cooked cut side down in a little water, and yield nutritious “spaghetti” when you rough them up with a fork.

Tonight’s feast bakes in the oven as I write.

I fashioned “meatballs” with an oatmeal and garbanzo bean “burger” mix, added garlic and oregano, and baked them on a cookie sheet for 30 minutes, turning once halfway through the cooking time. Then I gently spooned the un-meatballs into a pot of basil and tomato sauce; they will soak up more flavor and nutrients by the time the spaghetti squash is ready.

The house smells better than an Italian ristorante.

Columns | The Sassy Sandpiper | Food | TB Reporter

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