Pasta is one of my greatest weaknesses. Next to cheese, it's one of those edible wonders that I simply can't stop thinking about. I've got a rough life. 6 days a week with no starch or grains and 6 days a week with no cheese. It's the pits, I know. Call me nuts, but somehow I manage. I'm not going to preach to you about the benefits of the Paleo lifestyle so no need to worry. I'm also not going to tell you that spaghetti squash is as delectable as angel hair pasta. That, my friends, would be a downright dirty lie.
I'll take pasta or noodles in almost any form. Heck, I'd even eat boxed Mac & Cheese or Cup O' Noodles on the right night. Shhhh....I can't believe I really just admitted that! Yet, one of my all time favorite pasta dishes is filled with shrimp, drenched in lemon juice and butter, and boasts the perfect combo of rich and zesty. Shrimp Scampi can't be beat...alright, perhaps Lobster and Scallop Scampi would trump it.
When I decided one day that I'd attempt one of my best-loved meals with spaghetti squash, I was apprehensive. To my surprise, it was insanely delicious. Using a bunch of shallot and garlic to properly season both the shrimp and the squash, I found this dish to be full of flavor. I also threw in some crushed red pepper for a bit of heat. It so perfectly contrasted with the tangy lemon and decadent butter. I assure you, this gluten-free dinner will please your palate and you certainly won't have that dreaded full feeling that comes with devouring a bowl of pasta.
Shrimp and Spaghetti Squash Scampi
1 Medium to Large Spaghetti Squash
1 pound large shrimp, peeled and de-veined
3 tablespoons butter
2 Tablespoons EVOO
1/3 cup shallot, finely chopped
3 Tablespoons garlic, finely chopped
1 tablespoon parsley (Italian Flat Leaf is preferred)
2 teaspoons crushed red pepper
salt and pepper
1. Preheat your oven to 375 degrees.
2. With a large chef's knife, cut your spaghetti squash in half, length-wise. Then, scrape out all of the seeds and soft (gooey) flesh. Turn the halves flesh side down in a large baking pan and fill with 1-2 inches of water (just enough to cover the bottom of the squash halves). Cover with foil and put in the oven for 45 minutes.
3. When squash has cooked for 45 minutes, take the pan out of the oven and flip the halves so they are flesh side up. Cover with foil and cook for another 15 minutes. Take out of the oven and let squash slightly cool as you prepare the shrimp scampi.
4. Using a fine grater or microplane, grate the zest from the lemon onto your shrimp. Also add a big pinch of salt to the shrimp and mix well. Now, cut your lemon in half and squeeze all of its juices into a small bowl and set aside. You'll need about a cup (3/4 cup is fine) so juice your 2nd lemon if you need to.
4. In a pan, bring 1 tablespoon butter and 2 tablespoons EVOO to medium heat and add the chopped shallot. Let the shallot sauté for a few minutes until softened. Then, add the garlic and sauté for another minute.
5. Add the shrimp to the pan and cook for about a minute on each side. When shrimp is almost cooked though, add only half of the lemon juice and another tablespoon of butter. Let the shrimp finish cooking and sauce thicken.
6. Take the pan off the heat and transfer the shrimp as well as half of the shallots/garlic and sauce to a dish.
7. Using a fork, begin "pulling" the spaghetti strings from the squash-going horizontally across it. Add the "spaghetti" to the pan you cooked your shrimp in along with 1 tablespoon butter, crushed red pepper, a few pinches of salt, and the leftover lemon juice. On medium low heat, combine the squash with the butter and seasonings until thoroughly mixed and heated through.
8. Plate your spaghetti squash and shrimp and garnish with parsley.
***Serves 3-4 depending on portion size