Health and dietary concerns mean that I shouldn’t eat pasta nearly as often as I want to, which sometimes makes me sad. However, it has been lots of fun finding ways to satisfy my belly’s cravings while not killing my diet and/or my health.
SO… I had some awesome leftover tomato sauce (this one, in fact) and I thought I could modify a Chicken Parmesan to make it (a) healthier and (b) AWESOME. Know what? I SUCCEEDED!!
Kicked-Up AND Simplified Chicken Parm, serves two (plus extra.)
2 boneless skinless chicken breasts
salt, pepper to taste
1 spaghetti squash, roasted.
3-4 cups of your favorite marinara sauce, homemade or not.
parmesan, shredded (and some grated, if you like)
First things first — I roasted the squash a day in advance so I wouldn’t have to come home tired and hungry and then spend 2 hours on dinner. It’s a good trick.
1. Cut squash in half lengthwise and scoop out as much of the seeds and stringy crud as you can. Place face down onto greased baking dish/baking sheet and roast in a 350 degree oven for an hour, or until a fork easily pierces it.
2. Let cool. Seriously.
3. Scrape out squash with a fork. See how it’s kind of stringy like spaghetti? Awesome. Cool and store until needed.
The day of:
1. Pound chicken breasts until about flat and only about 1/2 inch thick. (also, at this point preheat your oven to 350)
2. Get your best skillet and heat oil (I use a blend of canola and EVOO) over medium-high.
3. Lightly dredge chicken in flour (seasoned, if you like); shake off excess
4. Fry chicken until lightly browned on both sides, transfer to greased baking sheet.
5. Top chicken with sauce, mozzarella, and parmesan. However much or little you want.
6. Bake chicken in oven while you finish up the pasta.
7. In same skillet as before (pour out some oil if you have too much; you only want about a Tablespoon or two of oil now) lightly saute shredded squash until warmed through.
8. Incorporate the remainder of your marinara until everything is warm and happy. Add salt, pepper, red pepper, whatever to taste.
9. Plate up! Plunk down some of your spaghetti squash marinara, place a piece of simplified chicken parm on plate, grab your utensils and go to town.
Darren, who normally doesn’t enjoy pasta in tomato sauce, loved this dish. The squash adds a little bit of sweetness that really counterbalances the acidity of the tomatoes. It’s awesome!
You can try doing the squash in the microwave to save time. That's how I've always done it. Split it in half and scrape out the seeds and general ick. Place in shallow microwave safe container open side up. Pour some water in the bottom (I forget the amount I use, haven't done it in a while.) Cover tightly with plastic wrap. How long it takes varies greatly with your microwave and probably the moisture content of the squash. I'd start with 5 minutes and then judge from there. If I remember right it usually totals 10-15, but I could be wrong.
Yeah, in my microwave, it definitely takes about 20 minutes or so, but it's 20 minutes that will also be used for other prep. A spaghetti squash recipe I discovered recently that was surprisingly awesome: http://www.seriouseats.com/recipes/2008/11/spaghetti_squash_with_ricotta_sage_and_pine_n.htmlWe kicked it up with a bit o'Garlicmash and about a pound of whatever ground meat product (I think it was 93% lean beef) I pulled out of the freezer. It looked gross, but tasted fantastic!