This flavorful recipe for Roasted Spaghetti Squash with Eggplant Puttanesca, is not only gluten-free, it’s vegan too. I love this for its rich, robust flavors, holding its own next to big, bold red wines, and it’s meals like this I crave when the weather turns cold and blustery out. Even though the spaghetti squash takes 30-40 minutes to roast in the oven, I still consider this a quick “weeknight” meal, because the Eggplant Puttanesca can be made at the same time – and relatively quickly and easily. Eggplant is sautéed with onion and garlic, then simmered with tomatoes and red wine and cooked down at bit. Capers and olives give it depth and flavor while chili flakes add just the right amount of heat. Keep this totally vegan and dairy free, or dust it with finely grated Romano cheese, for a tasty and healthy fall dinner.
On the home front: The last week has been spent in the hospital. My sweet old dad broke his hip and had to have hip surgery. Everything went well, but his dementia had him repeatedly pulling out IVs and ripping off his bandages. He couldn’t remember why he was there or actually where he was, he just knew he wanted to go home. Normally sweet and calm, he became agitated and cranky. What I couldn’t help but notice was how kind and patient the nurses were with him, how they treated him with such care and respect, regardless of how he was behaving or how unbelievably messy it got. And do you know what? It really touched me.
My heart welled up with such gratitude for these “soldiers” who are in the front lines daily, who have chosen this path of service.
I thought a lot about my own mom, now gone, whose birthday came and went while I sat in the hospital with my dad. She, too, was a nurse, serving for almost 50 years of her life. Growing up in Finland, she left her safe homeland and went by boat to Nigeria, to the heart of a troubled land and midwifed there, working in the “trenches” for five years, before meeting my dad in Egypt. I think about the all the care and comfort and support she gave others, and how when one is sick and scared and in pain, how this means absolutely everything. She rarely talked about what she saw there, though I know it was extreme and traumatic. I feel such pride for her, knowing how in her own quiet, stoic way, she gave so much to this world. And I’d like to believe, that her kindness somehow lives on through her patients, to their children and grandchildren, and that there are still some living souls that feel the tiny ripples of this….
That’s the thing about kindness, it just keeps on giving.
To all you nurses out there, who work so tirelessly, often with so little appreciation, I just want to thank you from the bottom of my heart. You have made a huge difference in so many lives.
Ok…and back to food.
Save the leftovers for lunch the next day, the flavors deepen even more.
- 3 lb Spaghetti Squash- ( or sub pasta noodles)
- 4 tablespoon olive oil- divided
- 1 small eggplant - cut into a small dice ( 4 cups)
- 1 red onion- diced
- 4 cloves garlic- rough chopped
- 1 red bell pepper- diced
- 14 ounce can crushed or diced tomatoes
- 1 teaspoon salt
- ¼ teaspoon red chili flakes
- Splash red wine
- 2 tablespoons capers
- 2 tablespoons slice olives ( like green or kalamata)
- Garnish: fresh Italian parsley, grated Romano or Parmesan cheese, or a drizzle olive oil
- Pre heat oven to 425F
- Cut squash in half, scrape out seeds with a spoon and place open side down, on a parchment-lined baking sheet in the oven and roast for 30- 40 minutes or until tender. (You could this the night before and then refrigerate and reheat.)
- While the squash is roasting make the Eggplant Puttanesca sauce.
- In a large heavy bottom skillet or dutch oven, heat 3 tablespoons oil over med-high heat.
- Add diced onion and eggplant, and saute, stirring often for 3-4 minutes. Add garlic and red bell pepper, turn heat down to medium and continue cooking until eggplant is tender, about 10 more minutes.
- Add crushed tomatoes, a generous splash of wine, chili flakes, salt, pepper, and simmer on low heat 5-10 more minutes. Add capers and olives.
- When squash is tender, scoop it out into a bowl and fluff and toss well with salt, pepper and 1 tablespoon olive oil.
- Place spaghetti squash on a platter( or divide among bowls) and top with the eggplant puttanesca. Sprinkle with fresh Italian parsley and grated cheese or a drizzle olive oil. Alternatively you can serve this right out of the spaghetti squash shell ( making sure to season the squash, mixing with a fork before topping with the putttanesca.