Spaghetti taco

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I know, it's ridiculous. There was an article about the spaghetti taco in the New York Times. It started as a gag on the TV show iCarly and has gotten out of hand and become a real food that kids like.

I was very skeptical, but I'll try anything once. But I had to adjust some things, since I still had to eat it.

I should point out that I'm probably not the best judge for this meal since I'm not the target demographic and my tacos don't look anything like ground beef, lettuce, tomato, and cheese in a U-shaped shell; mine have things like smoked pork, or grilled steak and caramelized onions, or grilled lime and tequila marinated shrimp. I will, however, give it a fair shot.

The recipe calls for an American-style U-shaped hard corn taco shell. Here are the nutrition facts for Old El Paso taco shells from caloriecount.about.com:

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My guess is that the taco shell ought to be replacing the bread that might be served with spaghetti. I wouldn't actually eat Pepperidge Farm frozen garlic bread but let's see how it stacks up. Really, from a calorie, fat, and carbs standpoint, they're pretty much even. OK, that's a good sign.
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I needed to cut 150 calories out of my normal spaghetti serving. The logical choice was to cut back on the amount of pasta, from 2 oz. to 1 oz., and cut the amount of pasta sauce from 4.2 oz. to 2.1 oz. to account for the reduced amount of pasta. That saved 100 calories from the pasta and 40 from the sauce, so it pretty much works out!

Plus, I was pretty sure it wouldn't be possible to fit 2.0 oz. of pasta in three taco shells along with Italian sausage. I had to put something other than carbs in the meal.

Recipe for one, multiply as necessary:

1.0 oz. dry spaghetti
2.1 oz. pasta sauce

Bring a pot of water to a boil. Salt. Break the spaghetti in half (maybe thirds) and cook according to pacakage directions (9 minutes for Barilla spaghetti). I don't normally break my spaghetti in half, but one of the tips in the article mentioned it makes it easier to stuff in the taco shells. It's still kind of difficult.

Preheat the oven to 325°F.

Bake the taco shells for 6 to 7 minutes or according to package directions.

Heat the pasta sauce; since I was only making one serving I microwaved it, covered, for a minute.

Cut the Italian sausage into small pieces. I get a package of Vermont Smoke and Cure hot Italian sausage and cook the whole thing. Then I vacuum seal and freeze it so all I need to do to cook it is take a link out of the freezer and microwave it for 1:20.

When the pasta is done, drain then mix together with the sauce in a bowl.

One of the things in the article mentioned using taco toppings (lettuce and tomato). That seemed really weird but I had to try it so I made one taco that way. I briefly considered putting taco seasoned ground beef in there too, but decided against it. In any case, it's bad. It's like mixing a salad in with your spaghetti, and that makes no sense.

The other two I just topped the spaghetti and sauce with Italian sausage, fresh basil, and Italian flat leaf parsley which seemed a little more reasonable. And indeed, it was actually pretty good. I was happy with those two.

Served with Per Linda Montepulciano d'Abuzzo, because everything's better with wine.

Would I make it again? No. It's not that good and it actually requires a number more pans than just making spaghetti and Italian sausage the normal way.

But as long as you cut back on the pasta and don't serve it with bread, it's really no worse nutritionally than serving regular spaghetti with mass-produced garlic bread or Texas toast. So if your kids like it that way, I say by all means go for it and don't feel guilty about it.

And now I can say I've had a spaghetti taco.