I’ve always wanted to try spaghetti squash. I don’t know why. It’s one of those peculiar curiosities, like wanting to know what all those weird and random fruits you sometimes get at the supermarket taste like. Anyway, while I was in Bristol at the weekend, great bustling metropolis that it is, I found a spaghetti squash at the greengrocer and snapped it up in a jiffy. I brought it home to my parents like a treasured possession and today we finally got around to cooking it.
In true Rivka style I looked at a lot of recipes and then shut down the computer and did my own thing lol. The cooking went in 2 phases.
The squash. It has to be cooked before you can do anything with it. The recipes generally agree that it should be sliced in half and deseeded, which is what I did. I cut mine lengthways. Some recipes said to roast it for 30 – 50 minutes, some said to chuck it into the microwave for 8-10 minutes. In the end we did a mixture of both. I microwaved it for 10 minutes and then decided it wasn’t cooked enough because it was going to mush rather than noodles, so we put it in the oven for a further 10 – 15 minutes. After that length of time we did get some noodles but I got a bit confused. The strings at the centre of the squash go lengthways, whereas the main body of noodles (bet you never thought you’d hear that phrase!!) go around the squash. I got some nice noodles but I’ll know better next time.
The squash itself has a lovely flavour. It’s quite a sweet squash without any of the wateriness you sometimes get with green/yellow squash or marrows/courgettes. The texture is also really interesting. The noodles are translucent but actually do resemble the texture of fine spaghetti upon eating. Quite delicious.
In the interests of not wasting anything, we baked the seeds. The recipes mostly said to sprinkle them with salt or garlic salt. Given my dad’s obsession with bombay mix, we decided to do ours with a paprika and cumin seasoning mix. I removed all the fibrous material from the seeds, mixed in a teaspoon or so of the spices and half a teaspoon of salt and then sprinkled them on a baking tray. They went into the oven at 170 degrees celsius for 25 – 30 minutes. They don’t require oil. I didn’t bother washing them.
Once baked, the seeds can be eaten as they are as a snack, but they’re also really good sprinkled on salads 🙂
The dish. We had some leftover sausages from the other night in the fridge. Many of the recipes said the squash were good baked with tomatoes. I decided to combine the two. While my squash were cooking, I made a basic Italian style tomato sauce:
2 cloves garlic
1 tin chopped plum tomatoes
3 teaspoons red pesto
1 stock cube dissolved in a cup of water (we used pork but any will do)
Italian herbs, salt and pepper to taste
Cheese for topping (I used cheddar and parmesan mixed.)
Fry the onion and garlic until soft, chuck in everything else and then reduce down until you have a fairly thick sauce. It took the entire 50 minutes I was cooking and shredding the squash to get it the right consistency. I could have cheated and used tomato puree, but squash is a wet vegetable so the dish would have been infinitely more liquid without the reduction.
While I was doing that, my able assistant (otherwise known as dad) sliced the (cooked) sausages lengthways. Once that was done, we were ready to put it together.
The urge to point skywards and yell “SPAGHETTI ASSEMBLE!!” was almost overwhelming, but I managed to restrain myself.
In a standard sized lasagne dish I layered as follows:
It was baked at 170 degrees for approximately 30 minutes.
The result was something quite spectacular. It’s one of those weird dishes that is somehow more than the sum of its parts. My father (who previously didn’t like squash) is now a convert and is actually intending to try and grow some next year, which should give you some idea of how nice it was.
I served it with focaccia, expecting it to be quite wet, but actually it wasn’t too bad.
Although the sausage was delicious, the dish lends itself to variations. We thought collectively that a bolognaise sauce would be quite nice with it instead of the separate tomato and sausage layers. The flavours are delicate enough that it would be quite nice with fish, such as salmon. Some recipes I saw recommended it with mozarella and olives in place of protein, providing a vegetarian main dish or side dish.
It’s actually incredibly low fat (minus the cheese and sausages in my version) and contains no carbs for those on diets, to whom this actually means something.
I’m looking forward to experimenting further with home grown squash next year!!