My elementary school prided itself on having nutritious and healthy lunches. All breads were whole grain, there were multiple vegetable and fruit options, and treats were things like celery and peanut butter with raisins or frozen bananas with carob chips.
I think I brought my own lunch every single day of elementary school.
Now, of course, I would love for someone to cook and prepare all that healthy food for me, but as a kid I wasn't as interested. I distinctly remember the disappointment of the frozen bananas with carob chips. If you aren't familiar with carob chips, just know that they look just like chocolate chips, but they have a different taste that is less sweet, slightly bitter and more molasses-ish. If you want to try a cruel trick on a first grader, hand them a banana with carob chips and let them take a bite. Carob just does not equal chocolate.
When I first heard about recipes that used spaghetti squash as an alternative to pasta, I was reminded of the carob chips. Some things just don't work as a substitution, and I wasn't sure about this one. After trying a couple different recipes, though, I think the key is not to think of spaghetti squash as a substitute but as a food in its own right. It has its own flavor and sometimes it works well with other ingredients and sometimes not as well.
Sometimes, even, the flavor it adds is better than pasta. This recipe is one of those instances. Since spaghetti squash has a slightly sweet natural flavor, it works really well with the slightly salty chicken filling that is added to it here. The squash has more crunch to it than regular spaghetti and I really like the texture that it adds. Throw in the added bonus of having fewer calories and more beta carotene than pasta and you've got way more than a substitution. Did I also mention that this recipe is super fast to make?
Fast, delicious, and good for me? Win, win, win. As you can see, I've come a long way since elementary school. Just don't ask me to give up chocolate for carob anytime soon.
Stuffed Spaghetti Squash with Tomato, Olives and Chicken