Monday, March 26, 2012

Meatless Monday...Moroccan Spaghetti Squash and Chickpeas

I love experimenting with different cuisines. In fact, when I go out to dinner, I rarely choose Steakhouses or American fare. I would much rather experience new flavors and dishes. I have never been to a Moroccan restaurant, but I am drawn to the flavors and spices and wanted to create a new recipe inspired by popular dishes and flavors. I must admit that the eggplant was my favorite part, but sometimes the side dish needs to shine over the main course.

Popular Moroccan spices include: saffron, tumeric, cumin, coriander, cinnamon, ginger, mint, and paprika.  The cuisine is quite diverse as there are Middle-eastern and Mediterranean influences. Couscous is a staple in this country, even though I am not using it in this recipe. Lamb and steak are often used in recipes, but today is Meatless Monday so I am doing a vegetarian dish.

Spaghetti Squash: Usually winter squash is high in carbohydrates, but this variety is low in calories and high in fiber making it a great substitute for pasta. 1 cup is only 40 calories and 10 g carbohydrates and packs in 10% of your daily Vitamin C needs. Spaghetti Squash is a great source of beta-carotene, which has anti-inflammatory and anti-cancer benefits. The benefits don't stop there either, it is a good source of Manganese, which is needed for bone health, sex hormone regulation, blood glucose control, and immune function.

Moroccan-spiced Spaghetti Squash
Serves 4

1 medium spaghetti squash
2 Tbsp Olive oil
3 cloves fresh garlic, chopped
1 tsp ground cumin
½ tsp ground coriander
1/8 tsp cayenne pepper
1 tomato, chopped
½ cup feta cheese
1 cup chick peas
1/4 cup pine nuts

Oven: Preheat oven to 350. Cut squash in half and place face down on a baking sheet. Bake for 1 hour. Let cool slightly and scoop out seeds. Remove the innards of the squash (it should have a stringy texture).
Pierce the spaghetti squash with a knife and microwave for 7 minutes on high. Cut in half and scoop out seeds, and the innards of the squash.

Heat olive oil in a large pan, add garlic and cook for 1 minute, toss spaghetti squash and remaining ingredients and cook for 5 minutes, or until the beans are warm.

Sweet Lemony Eggplant
Serves 4

1 small eggplant
2 Tbsp olive oil
2 Tbsp honey
¼ cup lemon juice
4 garlic cloves, minced
½ tsp ginger

Peel the eggplants and slice into ¼ inch slices. Heat 1 Tbsp olive in a large frying pan and add eggplant, cook until golden brown. Remove from pan and set aside

Place remaining olive oil, garlic in the pan and cook for 1 minute. Add the honey, lemon juice, and spices and stir.

Add the eggplant back in and simmer over medium heat for 10 minutes.

Nutrition Facts: 1 cup spaghetti squash with beans and eggplant
325 calories, 34 g carbohydrates, 10 g protein, 22 g fat (3 g saturated), 7 g fiber, 40 mg sodium

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