Yum, yum, YUM!  What can I say about this dish?  Whenever I see paella on a menu I think the explanation looks so tasty.  Sausage, seafood, veggies and rice.  How could this not be yum?  Well, when they bring it over, I usually can only fish out 1-2 shrimp, maybe 2 mussels and the same goes for the sausage.  When I get to the taste, I am so disappointed if it is bland.  If it’s dry, it’s even worse.  Needless to say, I have not ordered it on a regular basis.

Then I received my Ricardo Magazine.  I curl up on the couch and start flipping through the colourful pages.  Ooh that is good, wow, that is a good one and so on…  I’m sorry to say that this mag has stopped being published (Booo!), but I still have the ones that came and this recipe is from a winter issue.

I think it is a really cool twist on paella.  Using spaghetti squash brings the carbs down and boosts up the veg factor.  Arne and I usually cook this one up after eating a few nights of pasta or heavy cheezy dishes.  It’s really fresh in the winter and squash is in season.  Ricardo uses ingredients that are easily found.  I normally end up using a sink-full of dishes, but I have never been disappointed by one of his creations.  It’s not bland and you can even make it spicy with a little extra rep pepper flakes.   If you’ve never had spaghetti squash, I recommend trying it – big time.  It is so neat and has a nice flavour.  You could even try tricking your kids into eating it if they think it is spaghetti.  Wait a minute – that doesn’t really work does it?

Another reason that this recipe is so now is because of the use of curly parsley.  If your thinking that I am totally wrong:  “Hello Kerry, it’s italian/flat leaf parsley that is the it thing.”  Well, a couple weeks ago I would have completely agreed, until I read a Maclean’s article (that’s a little mag about current issues printed in Canada and I have been known to spew a few interesting facts unto uninterested ears).  Well, they had a pop-culture article all about the comeback of the previously uncool herb.  It was touted as having a bold fresh taste, leaving flat leaf in the dust.  Well, all that is old is new again.  Let the curly parsley fly and let me know if the culinary world is right!

On a presentation note – this dish looks awesome in the middle of the table.  People are going to be impressed!

Paella with Spaghetti Squash and Curly Parsley – adapted from Ricardo Larrivee

1 medium sized spaghetti squash

1 onion, chopped

2 garlic cloves, finely chopped

1 red bell pepper

1 chorizo sausage, diced

0.5 cup white wine

1 can diced tomatoes, drained (save 1/2 cup liquid)

1 lb fresh mussels

1 cup frozen peas

1 lb peeled shrimp, thawed

1 tsp paprika

1 tsp red pepper flakes or more if you like

0.25 cup curly parsley, chopped

Begin by preheating the oven to 350 degrees farenheit.  Take you squash and pierce it all over.  A knife works best for this.  Be careful the skin is very tough.  Place on a cookie sheet and bake in the oven for 45 minutes or until it feels tender to the touch.  Remove and let cool.  I use oven mitts to handle the squash and I recommend you do the same.  Cut in half lengthwise.  Scrape out the seeds with a spoon and discard.  With a fork, begin to scrape out the flesh.  It will come out in strings like spaghetti.  Try not to break the strings into small bits and also try to separate the strings.  Place in a large serving platter. 

In a large skillet, brown the chorizo, onion, and red pepper in some oil.   Add the garlic, paprika and red pepper flakes.  I used about 3 tsp of red pepper flakes and it was spicy but not overly hot for my taste.  Season with salt and pepper.  Deglaze the pan with the wine.  Add the tomatoes and the 1/2 cup of reserved tomato liquid.  Bring to a boil and simmer for about 3 minutes.  Add the mussels and peas and cook for another couple minutes.  Add the shrimp.  Cover and cook, stirring frequently.  It will be done when the mussels are open and the shrimp are pink.  Adjust the seasoning – meaning:  add more salt it will make a difference. 

 Pour mixture over the spaghetti squash.  Arrange the mussels and such so it looks nice.  Sprinkle that curly parsley over top.  Bring to table and hear your guests’ or family’s stomachs’ growl! 

–> Ricardo adds a fish, haddock or cod, at the same time that he adds the shrimp.  It is traditional to add it in paella, but I always think it is too much.  Now that you know, it is up to you to decide: fish or no fish…

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