Sauteed Spaghetti Squash and Collards

spagsquash_collard

Move over carbs! Spaghetti squash finds its voice. photo: Nancy Duran

Spaghetti squash and collard greens, they’ve always left me a bit cold. The in-your-face flavor of collards is generally too bitter for my taste unless, of course, it’s cooked down Southern-style, with a nice salty ham hock. But then you lose the crispness that I love so much in leafy greens. On the other hand, spaghetti squash features a subtle flavor bordering on boring. Little did I know that putting these two polar opposites together would create the magic I’ve always felt they were missing. The subtle sweetness of the spaghetti squash is the perfect balance to the boldness of crisp, quickly cooked collards.

To be perfectly honest, one of the reasons I don’t get jazzed up about spaghetti squash is that I dread getting it open. Cutting through the thick shell can be downright dangerous and I don’t savor the task. But then I learned the little trick of cooking them whole and cutting them after they’ve softened in the oven. Pre-roasting makes cutting through the tough skin as easy as slicing through butter. No injuries necessary.

You’ll note that I’ve included an exact amount of salt in this recipe. That’s because the collards need it to help leach out their natural bitterness. And the finish with lemon juice is just about essential to complete the collards’ journey from bitter to beautiful.

Serves 4 as a side

1 small spaghetti squash (about 2 pounds)
1 tablespoon olive oil
3 small shallots, thinly sliced
1 bunch collard greens, tough inner stems removed, leaves shredded
1/4 cup chicken stock, vegetable stock, or water
1 1/2 teaspoons chili powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
Cracked black pepper and a squeeze of lemon, to serve

  1. Preheat the oven to 375°F.
  2. Place the whole spaghetti squash on a rimmed baking sheet. Using a small, sharp knife, prick the skin all over. Bake for 1 hour. When cool enough to handle, cut the squash in half lengthwise and scoop out and discard the seeds. Scoop out the flesh and place in a medium bowl. Using a fork, break the squash up into its spaghetti-like strands.
  3. Meanwhile, in a wide, deep saucepan, heat the oil over medium-low heat. Add the shallots and cook, stirring, for 4 to 5 minutes, until softened. Add the collards and stir to coat all over. Add stock or water, cover and let cook for 5 minutes.
  4. Uncover and sprinkle with the chili powder and salt. Add in the cooked squash and toss to coat and combine. Serve with fresh cracked pepper and a squeeze of lemon.

Nutritional analysis based on 4 servings (using chicken stock):
Calories 126, Fat 5g, Sodium 369mg, Carbohydrate 20g, Fiber 2g, Sugar 0g, Protein 3g

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