When I write that I do not like any recipes that use the microwave as a major method of cooking, first I recognize that I sound obnoxious. Then, I admit that I am writing from a position of privilege. And by privilege I mean that often I have the luxury of time. As a childless woman without a 9-5 schedule, currently (temporarily) living alone, taking some extra hours to cook something in the oven while I type away at my computer is nothing. Many nights, it does not matter when I eat. I have no other mouths to feed. And my dogs have their own food and eating schedule that is independent of mine. Most of my day I can work at home, often in my pajamas or various renditions of yoga wear. So sometimes I have 50+ minutes to hang around and multitask while something is in the oven.
And tonight I have the privilege to decide to whether or not to use or eschew the microwave, because my electricity is on and my town has power. With the crazy “frankenstorm” sweeping in, not many people can even be sure if they have the option to cook in microwave or otherwise.
But tonight, something else other than weather, work, or hypothetical children was taking priority. There was something else taking up my oven. For several hours this afternoon (and into the evening), my oven was full of carefully filleted strips of chicken–lined up on parchment paper–dehydrating at low heat. What I thought would take two hours turned into four. And then more. My silly little dog treats ended up taking forever. Why would anyone make their own chicken jerky — and for their dogs nonetheless? Well, it’s a low-calorie treat that my dogs love. The store-bought version happened to go through a bunch of recalls in the last few months. And it’s much much cheaper to make it yourself.
So that’s how this horrific looking thing–chicken jerky–got oven preference. Some very spoiled dogs. My spaghetti squash was relegated to the microwave. So the good news is, if you want, this recipe can be prepared mostly the entire time on stovetop and in microwave, until you pop it in the oven for the last 10 minutes. Think of all the other things you can do with both your oven space and your time! You could make cookies. Or a pie. Or even homemade granola… And while spaghetti squash would take about 45 minutes to bake in the oven, it takes just over 10 in the microwave. Oh, the joy.
And then there’s another twist. Store-bought tomato sauce. Mind you, I know how to make homemade tomato sauce. And how to turn it into homemade vodka sauce. And it’s incredible. My mother is Italian American after all. I saw the process of taking fresh tomatoes and boiling them down into sauce and canning it many times in my life. And I also remember when you couldn’t buy Vodka Sauce in the jar. My mom would make it herself. But these days they do a pretty good job. And we’re talking about saving time here, right?
This recipe is so lazy, you don’t even take the spaghetti squash out of the gourd. You just fluff up the squash with a fork and pour the sauce right in.
Baked Spaghetti Squash with Vodka Sauce
- 1 medium spaghetti squash
- 1 tablespoon safflower oil
- 1/2 yellow or white onion, diced
- 2 cloves of garlic, finely sliced
- 6 ounces white button mushrooms, cleaned and sliced
- salt and pepper
- 1 25-ounce jar vodka sauce (you will have some left over)
- 1 cup shredded cheese such as mozzarella, I used a swiss and gruyere blend
To make the squash:
- Place whole squash in microwave for one minute. Turn over and microwave for one minute more.
- Carefully cut spaghetti squash in half, length-wise.
- Scoop out seeds and squash innards.
- Place face-down in a casserole dish with about 1/4-1/2 inch of water on the bottom.
- Microwave for 12 minutes.
- Remove from microwave and allow squash to cool and drain on top of several paper towels. Set aside.
To make the sauce:
- Heat safflower oil in sauté pan over medium heat.
- Add onions, cook until translucent.
- Add garlic and mushrooms.
- Cook until the mushrooms release their liquid and most of it has evaporated.
- Season with salt and pepper.
- Add entire can of vodka sauce. Stir and reduce heat.
- Allow to simmer for 10 minutes, stirring occasionally so that flavors may combine.
To bake the spaghetti squash:
- Preheat oven to 375 degrees F.
- Place spaghetti squash open-sides up in drained casserole dish.
- Use a fork to fluff up the squash so that spaghetti strands appear.
- Season with salt and pepper.
- Spoon sauce over squash until filled almost to the top.
- Sprinkle 1/2 cup cheese on top of each.
- Bake for 10 minutes or until cheese is golden and bubbly.
- Remove from oven and move to a plate or a bowl. Spaghetti squash can be eaten straight from the gourd.
Chicken jerky for dogs instructions found here: Paw Curious