Spaghetti squash saute with chickpeas, spinach and pangrattato

We've had a spaghetti squash from our veg box sitting on our counter top for a little while longer than it should have been. I've been looking at it every couple of days, and each time its just seemed like a little bit too much effort to work out what to do with it! But today I decided I would finally tackle the beast.

I really fancied some comforting pasta for dinner, literally my favourite food, but after Toby has just got back from the gym he wanted something a little healthier. I've read so many times that spaghetti squash is the perfect healthier carb-free replacement for pasta, so tonight was the night to give it a go.

After a bit of extensive google searching I realised that there are certainly the spaghetti squash lovers out there, but also a few haters. What the lovers don't tell you is that it can get slimy very quickly... and it certainly does not go well with sloppy sauces. Thank god I found that out, I was about to try and make a healthy(-ish?) carbonara sauce to go with (... I know what you are thinking, poor guy he's just got back from the gym and you want to feed him carbonara... ;)

Well anyway, Toby was saved from the carbonara as I decided what the squash really needed was a light mix with some really tasty veggies, and a liberal sprinkling of some super pungent pangrattato (crispy flavoured bread crumbs often used as a poor man's parmesan). It turned out this was the best u-turn I could ever make - the pangrattato was the perfect foil to the soft spaghetti squash and we were saved from what would have been a big sloppy congealed mess!

Lessons learnt - when you want something healthy, comforting and tasty, turn to spaghetti squash. When you want carbonara, stick to the classics!

Spaghetti squash saute with chickpeas, spinach and pangrattato

Serves 4

If you want to try and make this gluten free I'd suggest using gluten free breadcrumbs rather than missing this part out as the crispy breadcrumbs really make the dish!

Ingredients

1 large spaghetti squash

olive oil

1 large onion, finely chopped

3 garlic cloves, crushed

1 large bunch of spinach, washed and shredded

1 can of chickpeas, drained

parmesan

Pangrattato

olive oil

2 cloves garlic, crushed

1-2 anchovy fillets

1/2 tsp chilli flakes

50g dried bread crumbs

1 tbsp capers, finely chopped

Parsley, finely chopped

Method

Preheat the oven to 180˚C˚. Cut the spaghetti sqaush in half, scrape out the seeds and middle and discard. Rub the cut side with olive oil, salt and pepper, then place cut side down in a baking dish. Place in the oven and bake for around 45 minutes until the squash is easily pierced with a sharp knife, take out of the oven until you are ready to eat.

Meanwhile make the veggies and pangrattato. Heat up a large glug of olive oil in a heavy frying pan, then add the onion and saute for around 5 minutes until nicely soft. Add the crushed garlic cloves and saute for another 30 seconds. Add the washed and chopped spinach and a good grinding of salt and pepper, saute until the spinach has wilted down. Then add the drained chick peas and saute on a high heat until you have a few crispy bits on the chickpeas.

For the pangrattato heat another large glug of olive oil in a small frying pan, and add the crushed garlic, anchovy fillets, and chilli flakes and cook on a medium/high heat stirring often until the anchovy has melted into the oil. Add the breadcrumbs and mix together really well and cook until the breadcrumbs are golden. Add the chopped capers and parsley, give a good stir and take off the heat.

When everything is ready scrape out the flesh of the spaghetti squash into the pan with the chickpeas and spinach, add a good grating of parmesan, give a quick mix together and check the seasoning. To serve, pile the spaghetti squash into bowls, top with plenty of the pangrattato and more parmesan - delicious!