It's 5 P.M., I just got back from an out-of-town wedding, I'm hungry, and the only thing I know for sure is that I'm staying home. I have a spaghetti squash on my counter, and some cherry tomatoes that I put in the refrigerator before I left for the wedding. I know that tomatoes ought not be refrigerated, but I didn't think they'd survive on the counter for four days while I was away.
I also have some lovely Queen Creek olive oil - Meyer lemon infused, and a shallot. It's as if my nearly bare kitchen and my eat-less-meat New Year's resolution conspired to see if I was really serious about going meatless a couple of days each week.
The nice thing about spaghetti squash is that it offers both quantity and quality. Roast a halved and seeded squash and you'll get a big bowl of golden, tender, al-dente-textured (and gluten free) faux spaghetti. A single two-pound squash turns out about the same amount of spaghetti-shaped food as a 12-ounce package of angel hair pasta.
For a really quick fix, especially as a side dish, you can toss the hot-out-of-the-oven just-forked squash with your favorite ready-made basil or sundried tomato pesto. It's also great tossed in butter or olive oil and seasoned with a dash of ground nutmeg, salt and pepper. A little fresh grated Parmesan or Asiago cheese finishes the dish.
I like to add fresh cherry tomatoes, roasted in the same oven as the squash. I halve the tomatoes, so that when I toss them with the spaghetti (and some olive oil) they turn into a sort of chunky sauce. Salt, pepper, and dash of nutmeg finish the dish. If I'm aiming for vegan I'm done; if I want vegetarian I add grated cheese; and If I crave flesh I add some grilled chicken.
Other options with spaghetti squash (always including a little olive oil or butter and seasoned with salt and pepper):
- Sliced almonds or pecans, plus dried cranberries, and a few tablespoons of maple syrup,
- Cool the cooked, shredded spaghetti squash and add to your favorite slaw recipe,
- Toss in some shredded kale or steamed chopped Brussels sprouts, lemon juice, and a tablespoon or two of orange marmalade.
One last thing about spaghetti squash; it has a long shelf life. The one I made for dinner had been in a bowl on my counter for at least six weeks. In other words, if you're a procrastinator spaghetti squash should be on your shopping list.
Andy Broder is the chef/owner of AndyFood, A Culinary Studio.
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