It started with a phone call from my brother on the west coast, why isn’t your shrimp and lemon pasta dish on the blog, I want to make it now?! Many years ago, before culinary school, he and I had taken a series of cooking classes together and a lemon pasta dish was by far the most memorable recipe we made. After tweaking the recipe and adding shrimp, it became one of my signature dishes and part of a weekly rotation, but since we seldom eat pasta it went by the wayside. It was time to re-invent the dish and spaghetti squash made a great pasta substitute! Although, if you’re in the mood for pasta, linguini is a good choice. Scallops instead of shrimp would be delicious too.
Pre-heat the oven to 375 degrees F. If the spaghetti squash is too hard to cut, place the whole squash on a parchment or foil lined baking pan with some cooking spray and roast until just beginning to soften, about 15 minutes. Alternatively, you can put the squash in the microwave and soften it in 3-4 minutes. Let it cool a bit and then cut the squash into 1 1/2 inch rounds, discarding the top and bottom ends. Scrape away the seeds from each round, using a spoon.
Coat the squash rings in cooking spray and place on the baking sheet covered with parchment or foil and coated with cooking spray. Bake until "al dente" or until tender but with a little bite, about 30 minutes. Let the rounds cool and then carefully remove the strands from the skin. This method will ensure the squash stays in strands and has texture to hold the sauce.
Heat a large non-stick skillet over medium heat. Add the butter and olive oil. Add the shrimp and cook until pink and just cooked through, about 3-4 minutes. Add the spinach and stir until wilted. Add the spaghetti squash strands to the pan and season with salt and pepper, adding more oil or butter as needed. Turn off the heat and add the lemon zest and fresh lemon juice and toss gently to combine. Garnish with the freshly grated Parmesan cheese.