Saturday, December 26, 2009


My favourite thing to do with spaghetti squash

I haven’t posted a “favourite thing to do with [food]” item in a long time. Here’s something I do with spaghetti squash that’s very tasty and cockle-warming.

Roasted spaghetti squash with chives, walnuts, and blue cheese

Cooking instructions for spaghetti squash often suggest sticking it in the oven whole, but I prefer to halve it lengthwise. It’s not easy to cut when it’s raw — you need a heavy knife (I use a cleaver) and a lot of oomph — but it’s worth the trouble to get some caramelization that adds a nice flavour.

So, preheat your oven to 400F. Cut a bit off the stem end of the squash first, so you aren’t trying to cut through the stem. Then cut the gourd in half from stem to tip. Remove the seeds and the membranes in the middle, and save the seeds for later. Spread a bit of olive oil on the cut surface and the inside, put it cut side down on a cookie sheet, and shove it in the oven for 45 minutes.

While you’re waiting, do four things:

  1. Take some good fromage bleu out of the ’fridge, crumble ¼ cup or so, and leave the crumbled bits out to warm up.
  2. Crush some walnuts coarsely... maybe ½ cup of crushed nut-meat, or a little less.
  3. Coarsely chop or cut some fresh chives... about ¼ cup. They have to be fresh, not dried, or else don’t bother. If you like, use some other fresh herb. Tarragon would be very nice, or fresh marjoram.
  4. Remove the seeds from the membranes, pat them dry-ish, and toss them with just a little olive oil — not too much.

When the squash is done, turn the halves over. The cut surface should be browned, and the pulp tender. Put them cut-side up somewhere and let them cool for a few minutes while you spread the seeds out on the cookie sheet, sprinkle them with salt and pepper, and put that back into the oven. While you continue below, keep an eye on the seeds. When they’re medium-brown, take them out; mind they don’t burn.

Go back to the squash, shred the pulp with a fork (going lengthwise through each half), and scoop it out into a casserole. Stir in the chopped chives, the crushed walnuts, the crumbled cheese, and a tablespoon or two of butter. More freshly ground pepper would be in order now, but be careful about adding salt — the cheese will be salty, so don’t overdo it. Mix it all up well.

Put the casserole into the oven and give it five or ten minutes there to make sure it’s nice and hot, then take it out. Don’t forget to turn the oven off. Note that you might skip this bit if you’ve messed with the pulp quickly enough that it’s still hot enough in the first place. You decide how hot you want it.

Serve it on nice plates or in shallow bowls, and garnish them with some of the seeds and a few extra stems of chives.

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