Spaghetti Squash with Tomatoes and Smoked Chicken

This is a good, lower calorie and lighter alternative to a pasta dish, but don't think of spaghetti squash as a pasta substitute, think of it as a vegetable you can eat with abandon in bulk. I don't know about you, but if anyone tried to serve me spaghetti squash when I wanted pasta, I would be sorely disappointed. But spaghetti squash is delicious, and I would be equally disappointed if someone served me pasta in place of spaghetti squash.

Preparation

Ingredients
1-1/2 c. smoked chicken
1 large spaghetti squash
1 qt. tomatoes or tomato sauce
1 head roasted garlic
2+T. olive oil
1 c. hard cheese for grating (caved-aged tomme or gouda)
Salt and Pepper to taste
Herbs, fresh or dried (optional)

1. Prepare the Squash
The easiest way to cook a whole spaghetti squash is to stab some holes or slits into it and pop it in the microwave on high until the flesh gives easily when you push on it. This may take up to ten minutes or more, but it's no fuss and fast, compared to roasting or boiling. Well, it's no fuss until it's time to cut it and process it. Once you get your squash out of the microwave, cut it open so it can begin to cool. Carefully scoop out the seeds and let it cool more while you prep the chicken. Once cooled, use a fork to scoop the flesh into spaghetti strings in a large bowl. Mix in mashed roasted garlic with salt, pepper and a bit of good olive oil.

2. Prepare the Chicken
You can use either the Houston smoked chicken, or just roasted chicken. Remove meat from bones and cut into bite-sized pieces. Put the carcass in the crock pot with a carrot, an onion and a bay leaf (and any fennel fronds or other zip locks of summer veggie scraps you stashed in the freezer). Cover with water and set on high. In the morning you'll have broth.

3. Prepare the tomatoes
You can use fresh roasted tomatoes, Hilty canned tomatoes or a jar of Family Harvest Marinara. If using the jar of Hilty tomatoes, remove from liquid, chop roughly and add salt and pepper. Save the liquid. 

4. Assemble the casserole. Oil a baking pan and spread the spaghetti squash evenly along the bottom. Sprinkle the chicken over the squash and top with the tomatoes or sauce. Include a bit of the tomato juice, maybe a cup or so. Add any remaining juice to your stock in the crock pot. Sprinkle with herbs, if desired. Grate the cheese over the top and bake in a hot oven (450F) until the cheese is browned and crispy (a fine, small size grate will give you a crispier top). Serve immediately. Mmmm!

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