On Mondays, Kristen Swensson of Cheap, Healthy, Good swings by these parts to share a healthy, delicious, and budget-conscious recipe with us. Today, a recipe that would work well on your Thanksgiving table.
It's a common misconception that in order to be healthy, you have to cut rich, calorie-packed ingredients from your meals. Unequivocally, this is the road to ruin. Generations of diets have been undone by deprivation; the elimination of dearly loved foods in favor of rice cakes, dry salads, and other lame substitutes.
Instead, healthy eaters must learn to use their favorite foods in moderation, while still drawing as much flavor from them as possible. It's a vital principle of lighter cooking, and it'll make meals desirable, as opposed to merely edible. To put it another way, no one's ever going to crave a plain turkey burger, but Dijon turkey burgers with Gruyere cheese is a different story.
Adapted from The Kitchn's recipe for Spaghetti Squash With Ricotta, Sage, and Pine Nuts, this dish is a great example of this idea. At fewer than 200 calories and 11 grams of fat per serving, you wouldn't believe it's full of cheese, fried sage leaves, and toasted pine nuts. It's true, though. It's just that they're built around a vegetable, and incorporated in such a way that they're complementary rather than overwhelming. What's more, the whole schlemiel is so creamy, savory and hearty, it's difficult to tell it's low-calorie.
So, the next time you're looking to make a meal with heavier ingredients, go ahead and give it a shot. Just make sure to exercise some restraint with the good stuff. You'll still taste it, and there won't be any regrets in the morning.
- 1 small spaghetti squash (about 2 pounds)
- 3/4 cup part skim ricotta
- 1 clove garlic, mashed
- Olive oil (about 1/2 to 1 full tablespoon)
- 6 to 8 fresh sage leaves
- Salt and pepper
- 1/4 cup pine nuts, toasted
Preheat oven to 375°F.
Pierce the whole squash in several places with a knife or fork, place it in a baking dish, and bake until flesh is tender (easily pierced with a fork), about 60 to 75 minutes.
Remove squash from oven and let cool for 5-10 minutes. Meanwhile, heat a little bit of oil in a small pan. Quickly fry sage leaves until crispy but not burnt. Crumble sage leaves into a large bowl and combine with ricotta and garlic. Set aside.
Cut squash in half lengthwise and remove seeds. Pull a fork through the flesh to separate and remove the strands from the shell. Add to bowl with ricotta mixture.
Combine squash and ricotta mixture and season to taste with salt and pepper.
Sprinkle with pine nuts before serving.