Mmmmmm! Spaghetti …!

24 05 2008

Squash, that is.

I got a spaghetti squash the other day – it’s been quite a while since we had one and it just sounded good

But when I went to fix it today I really didn’t feel like smothering it with a marinara sauce, so off to FoodTV.com to see what they had that might be interesting. The search term “spaghetti squash” (without the quotes) brought up several pages of stuff, but I rapidly went through the recipes for spaghetti squash and wound up in recipes for spaghetti combined with various types of squash, or squash served on a bed of spaghetti, or, well, I quit there.

I “Apple W’d” the recipes where the spaghetti squash was a side to a meat dish, and those that involved marinara sauce, and wound up with several possibilities. Looking through those I found one by Rachael Ray for spaghetti squash with cheese and pepper – simple and sounded good; and Emeril Lagasse’s recipe for spaghetti squash with fresh herbs – also simple and sounded good. But which one?

Both recipes prepped the squash the same way – boiling it for a while – so that gave me time to decide. I like hard aged cheeses, having Grana Padano – an aged cows’ milk cheese similar to Reggiano Parmesan – in the fridge, so Rachael’s dish was a good alternative. On the other hand, I have some parsley going like crazy, having survived the winter, and some other herbs in my garden, so Emeril’s recipe was also a good alternative. What to do?

(light bulb!) I had cut the squash in half lengthwise in order to cook it, so that gave me two pieces to go with my two recipes! So, I gathered herbs, washed them and picked out the straw, then spun them dry and cut them up. Then I fixed the two recipes. Since both recipes sounded as though the amounts were more guidelines than requirements, I just added herbs or cheese until it looked good, tossed in some salt so it tasted right, then put them in the oven to keep them warm until it was time to serve them.

They were both delicious! I think next time I’ll add a bit more cheese to Rachael’s dish, and maybe a bit of a meltier cheese like Fontina to add creaminess with the nutty flavor of the Padano/Parmesean, and ease off just a bit on the olive oil. With Emeril’s recipe – my wife’s favorite when she sampled the dishes off my plate – I’ll try to balance the herbs so it isn’t so strongly parsley, then grate a little Padano/Parmesean on top to add a bit of subtle nutty flavor in the background.

Another good alternative would be to combine them, which is what my wife did when she fixed her dish of squash. The flavors certainly don’t clash, and, in fact, work very well together.

So, there you go:

WonderingPondering’s Herbed Spaghetti Squash

  • 1 Spaghetti squash
  • 1 Cup Fresh herbs: a balanced mixture of parsley, basil, chives, oregano, thyme, sage, and any other soft leafy herbs you would like
  • 1 Cup Hard aged nutty grating cheese like Reggiano Parmesean or Gran Padano
  • 1 Tbsp Butter
  • 1 Tbsp Extra virgin olive oil
  • Cut the spaghetti squash in half lengthwise, and clean the seeds and other stuff out of the center. Place face down in a pan, add 2 cups water and boil for 30 minutes. Be sure and check periodically to make sure the pan doesn’t go dry on you, adding water as needed.
  • While the spaghetti squash is cooking, gather your herbs, wash and dry. Chop coarsely and put in a large bowl with olive oil and a pinch of salt and freshly ground black pepper.
  • When the spaghetti squash is ready – tender when poked with a knife – scrape with a fork so the “spaghetti” comes out into the bowl with the herbs, olive oil, salt and pepper.
  • Add butter and grated cheese. Toss to melt the butter and coat thoroughly with the herbed oil mixture. Add additional salt and pepper to taste. May be put into a warm oven until ready to serve.
  • Add a little more grated cheese and fresh herbs to garnish, then serve.

Vegan alternative:

  • Substitute some chopped, toasted cashews and/or toasted pine nuts for the cheese. Use enough to provide the nutty background flavor, but not so much that it overwhelms the fresh herbs.
  • Replace the butter with some other oil. You may want sesame or canola oil to again keep the flavors in balance.
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