- 1 small spaghetti squash or
- 1 medium zucchini
- 1 teaspoon coarse sea salt or kosher salt or to taste plus more for cooking pasta
- 1⁄3 cup extra-virgin olive oil
- 4 plump garlic cloves, crushed
- 1 small onion, thinly sliced (1 cup of slices)
- 1⁄2 pound ground chicken or turkey breast
- 1 (28-ounce) can Italian plum tomatoes, preferably San Marzano, (crushed by hand) or one jar of Lidia’s Tomato Basil Sauce
- 1 pound Lidia’s Capellini
- 8 shredded basil leaves
- 1 cup Grana Padano, freshly grated
1. Split the spaghetti squash in half, season with salt, and bake in a preheated 400°F oven for 20 minutes. Then let cool and with the tines of a fork scrape the spaghetti-like strands from the inside of the squash. Loosen the strands. Or wash and shred the zucchini on the coarse holes of a box grater. You will need 2 cups of either spaghetti squash or shredded zucchini.
2. Pour the oil into the big skillet and set over medium-high heat. Scatter in the sliced garlic and let it start sizzling. Stir in the onion slices and cook for a couple of minutes to wilt. Stir in the ground chicken or turkey, and cook for 5 minutes. Add in all the spaghetti squash, or shredded zucchini, and season with salt. With tongs, toss all together and cook for 5 minutes.
3. Pour in the crushed tomatoes along with a 1/2 cup of water sloshed in the tomato containers, or the one jar of Lidia’s Tomato Basil Sauce. Stir well and cover; when the tomato juices are boiling, adjust the heat to keep them bubbling gently. Cook covered for about 10 minutes (if using canned tomatoes, cook for 15 minutes), stirring occasionally. When the vegetables are softened, uncover and continue cooking to reduce the pan juices to a good consistency for dressing the pasta, about 5 minutes. Adjust the seasoning to taste and keep at a low simmer.
4.While the sauce is cooking, heat the salted pasta cooking water to a rolling boil (at least 6 quarts water and a tablespoon salt). Drop in the capellini and cook until barely al dente. Lift them from the water, drain them for a moment, and then drop them into the simmering sauce. Toss and cook all together for a couple of minutes, over moderate heat. Moisten the pasta with pasta water if it seems dry (about 1/2 cup) or cook rapidly to reduce the juices in the skillet if it is too saucy.
5.When the pasta is perfectly cooked and enveloped by the sauce, turn off the heat. Throw in the shredded basil leaves and the grated cheese and toss all together well with the pasta. Serve nice and hot.
KIDS CAN: Crush canned tomatoes by hand in a big bowl; shred cooked, cooled spaghetti squash with a fork or shred zucchini on the grater (hold the zucchini in a kitchen towel to avoid getting scraped on the box grater); shred basil, by hand or with scissors; and crush garlic (if too young for a knife, it can be crushed with the bottom of a can).