Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Spaghetti Squash Lunch

Whilst studying the other day, well, while thinking about food and pretending to study, I decided to finally use up a lonely spaghetti squash that had been taking up precious real-estate on my counter.

I can't really say enough about this fruit, and yes it is a fruit as it is the sweet and fleshy product of a tree or other plant that contains seed and can be eaten as a food. Ok... I did my research... Back to the squash. Delicious, need I say nutritious and extremely easy to prepare. Before anything, pre-heat your oven to 375 degrees. Using one of your larger knives, take off the top and the bottom of the squash and then cut the whole thing in half lengthwise.

Now you can use whatever tool you wish for this next step although I would highly recommend using a metal serving spoon. Using the sharp edge of the spoon, scrape out the seeds and pulpy middle of the squash just like you would clean out a pumpkin for carving. Only remove the seeds and the pulp as you trying to preserve as much of the flesh as possible, that is the part we are going to eat.

This is what the squash looks like once you have cleaned it out properly. Finish cleaning out the second half of the squash and set both halves on a baking sheet open side up.

Now here is where the recipe is very open to interpretation and alteration. Whereas I simply dressed the squash with extra virgin olive oil, a liberal sprinkling of kosher salt and fresh cracked pepper, you could just as easily use a variety of fresh or dried herbs, chopped garlic or onion or even a sprinkling of brown sugar and nutmeg. No matter what your preference, this squash is the perfect blank slate for your taste buds.

Once you have dressed the squash to your particular liking, pop the baking sheet into the oven and roast the squash halves for about 45 minutes. Periodically check the squash as it may take a little more or a little less time depending on your oven. It is a sure bet that your lunch is ready when you notice that the flesh has gone from a pale, butter yellow to a caramelized golden brown.

As soon as your timer goes, bring the baking sheet out of the oven and set it on a cooling rack for about 15 minutes to let the squash cool down. The flesh is much easier to work with once it is cool and the strands of 'spaghetti' pull away from rind with little difficulty.
Using a fork or two, drag the tines across the fleshy side of the squash, gently easing the strands away and plate them up in a nice big bowl.

At this point the squash is delicious unadorned with another drizzle of fruity extra virgin olive oil and shavings of parmesan cheese. For a little more pizazz, ladle on any pasta sauce you would normally use on top of spaghetti for the perfect gluten free meal. This veg is an ideal light-lunch carb substitute that will satisfy any one's palate, except maybe my husband's!


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