Sunday, February 17, 2013

Chicken Cacciatore with Spaghetti Squash

Last night I finally decided to make something Italian.  After all, just because I can't have pasta doesn't mean I can't have all the other delicious flavors of Italian food!  I went with a recipe that my mother has made ever since I can remember.  Now, there are tons of versions of Chicken Cacciatore out there, but this is the one she has always made.  When I was a kid, I didn't like this meal very much since it is jam packed with vegetables and I was NOT a fan of mushrooms until I was much older.  But now, I can appreciate and enjoy it!  The only change I made from her original recipe is that I used spaghetti squash instead of pasta.  Typically we would eat this with linguine, so I figured spaghetti squash would be a decent substitute.  It definitely was.  This was really delicious and healthier than the original.  If you are like me and searching for Paleo versions of your Italian favorites, give this one a try!

Chicken Cacciatore with Spaghetti Squash
(Makes enough to serve 4)
  • 2 large chicken breasts, cut into bite-size pieces
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1/2 small onion, chopped
  • 1 green bell pepper, chopped
  • 1 8 oz. package white mushrooms, sliced thick
  • 1 15 oz. can diced tomatoes 
  • 1 T olive oil
  •  salt & pepper
  • 1 tsp dried basil (or use fresh if you have it)
  • 1/2 tsp dried oregano (or use fresh if you have it)
  • 1/2 large spaghetti squash (I only used half for this recipe, but I roasted the whole thing and saved half for another meal)
To make the spaghetti squash, preheat the oven to 350 degrees.   Slice the squash in half length wise so you have 2 halves that look like little boats.  Place them on a baking sheet or roasting pan, cut side up, and sprinkle some salt and pepper onto the flesh of the squash.  Bake for about 1 hour, until the flesh is soft.  (Alternatively you can microwave it for about 10 minutes instead).  Once it is done, remove and let it cool slightly (so you can touch it) as the rest of the meal is cooking.  To make the "spaghetti," take a fork and shred the flesh all along the inside of the squash half.  Fluff it up to make it look like pasta!  (Ideally, do this right before you serve it).  Again, you will likely only eat half of the squash for this meal, so save the rest in a Tupperware or Ziploc and refrigerate/freeze it for another meal. 

While the squash is baking, get started on the rest (though this part will only take about 20 minutes, so you can give the squash a head start).  Heat a large skillet on the stove at medium-high heat.  Add the olive oil and allow it to get hot.  Throw in the garlic and stir it around a bit to add flavor to the oil.  Add the chicken and season with some salt and pepper.  Stir the chicken around a bit and allow it to cook until it all turns white (about 5 minutes).  Next, toss in the onion, peppers, and mushrooms.  Stir this around for about 3-4 minutes until the vegetables look cooked.  Crack open your can of tomatoes and pour it into the pan.  Turn the heat down to medium-low.  Stir the tomatoes around until all the yummy goodness is incorporated and mixed together.  At this point, add your basil and oregano and taste it to see if you need more salt or pepper.  Let it simmer for about 5 more minutes to allow the flavors to meld.

To serve, scoop some spaghetti squash onto your plate and top it with the chicken mixture.  I like to get some of the extra tomato juice from the pan and pour it over my squash too.  If you are eating dairy, top it with some Parmesan cheese!  (Oh how I miss Parmesan already).  I encourage you to try spaghetti squash with all of your regular Italian favorites.  It could never completely replace the joy that is pasta, but it is a great alternative.  Enjoy!

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