Carb Cutting Comfort
Shrimp scampi gets a healthy upgrade with spaghetti squash in lieu of pasta.
I don’t know anyone who doesn’t love shrimp scampi, and with this healthier version you don’t have to feel guilty about eating it whenever you want. This recipe substitutes low-carb spaghetti squash for the pasta. It’s still deliciously buttery and garlicky, but it has half the calories.
Spaghetti squash is perfect for the fall season. It’s available in a variety of shapes, sizes and colors, but when I am picking out my squash, I pick the biggest one. It doesn’t matter to me if it is ivory, yellow or orange, I just want the big one. I have used smaller ones too, but the large ones are my personal preference. Just remember to adjust your cooking time for the smaller ones.
Like other types of squash, spaghetti squash contains large seeds. When raw, the flesh seems just like any other squash, but when cooked, the spaghetti squash meat pulls away from the skin and creates ribbons or strands of meat that look like spaghetti pasta. It is a healthy alternative to pasta without all the carbohydrates and gluten. My spouse has a gluten allergy, so I am always looking for pasta substitutions.
The squash can be baked, boiled, steamed or even microwaved, but it is easier for me to remove the full strands when I bake it split with the flesh side down. I tried to serve the shrimp scampi in the squash shell bowl, but it kept rolling around on my plate and my garlic sauce seeped into the squash and was a bit dry. If you want to serve yours in the shell feel free, but for this recipe it is not recommended.
I prefer to purchase my shrimp from a local fish market and peel and devein them myself, but you can certainly purchase frozen, already peeled and deveined shrimp to skip a step. If you are trying to be healthier, you can substitute the butter for extra virgin olive oil, but then your scampi will be less creamy. If you don’t like spinach, you can use asparagus or snap peas instead for a well-rounded meal. I used fresh basil out of my garden, but you can buy fresh basil at your local grocery.
If you are unfamiliar with using spaghetti squash, this will be a great way to try it. It is quite easy and makes for a unique flavor and texture. Kids love to scrape the flesh out; it always amazes them to see the spaghetti form from squash. It still amazes me too — will it you?
Photography by James Stefiuk