After falling off the experimentation wagon and letting myself revel in my dietary ruts, I’m back to attempting to push a few culinary boundaries.
My latest adventure: spaghetti squash.
I’ve been fascinated by the concept of spaghetti squash for a long time. A friend’s mother made it when I was a kid, and I thought all those spaghetti-like strands looked cool. I love spaghetti, and the idea that there was a vegetable just like it appealed to me. I just haven’t had a lot of luck cooking it for myself.
My last attempt looked like a scene out of a horror movie, as I chased the squash around the kitchen with a meat cleaver. I think it took me longer to cut the thing open so I could cook it than it did to cook it, and by that time, I hated it. The rind is very tough, and the shape doesn’t help in holding it still long enough to cut it open. I’m amazed that I got through the experience with all my fingers intact because I came dangerously close to cutting myself when my knife bounced off the skin as the squash rolled away. I found myself wishing for a chainsaw.
But this time around, I got clever. I did some research and found that you can boil it without cutting it open first. The boiling softens the skin a lot. So, what I did was boil it for about half an hour, or until my knife slid into it easily. Then I cut it in half, scooped out the seeds, and put it in a baking pan to bake at 375 F until it was really done. I probably could have boiled it until it was totally done, but I like the baked texture when it comes to squash.
I have to say that the real key to enjoying spaghetti squash is to quit thinking of it as anything even remotely resembling pasta. It is not pasta, and it never will be. The taste and texture are all wrong. However, it does go well with things you might serve with pasta, so that it falls into the category of almost, but not quite, entirely unlike pasta (apologies to Douglas Adams). It was okay with an Italian sausage and tomato sauce — but not as good as the sauce is with some ziti and a little mozzarella cheese on top and browned in the oven.
But the dish that I really liked was the carrot and zucchini spaghetti dish, with this squash replacing the spaghetti. I might even have liked it better than the pasta version because the squash had a bit of crunch, and the flavors blend well with the onion, pepper and carrot. I may buy spaghetti squash more regularly, just to make this dish. It will never replace pasta in my life, but it is a way to add more vegetables to my diet.
I may try it next with some pesto. I’m not quite sure how that will go, to be honest, but I have a basil plant, so I may as well give it a shot. I may also try it with a tomato and garlic sauce. It might be interesting mixed with pasta in a carbonara dish. I don’t plan to waste any more of my sausage sauce on it, though. That deserves real pasta.