Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Spaghetti Squash = Magic

Now that I've taken account of the contents of my pantry, I realize empying is something that has got to happen but will be impossible to complete before Saturday. I have a potato in there that has probably established roots--I was too afraid to look.
I did a decent job of emptying out these jarred Mediterranean items. I've had the capers for well over a year (probably why they don't taste good anymore). But in the process of cleaning off my counter I discovered an amazing new gourd: the aptly name spaghetti squash.
There are so many just weird things this earth produces. Gourds are kind of weird in general. And the spaghetti squash is definitely not the weirdest out there. But it's pretty sweet that you can boil a halved and de-seeded squash just like pasta, let it cool a bit and then scrape the sides and it looks like spaghetti. The flavor of this squash is really mild, so it goes with any sort of sauce you might put with regular, wheaty pasta.

Spaghetti Squash with Tapenade: from Food and Wine 1 spaghetti squash 1 cup coarsely-chopped almonds >1/2 cup Kalamata olives, pitted 1 tablespoon capers couple sun-dried tomatoes 1/4 cup scallions 3 tablespoons lemon juice 1 tablespoon olive oil salt and pepper handful or so crumbled feta cheese You'll want to toast or blanch the almonds if they aren't toasted already. So pre-heat the oven the 350. Toast whole almonds for 5 to 7 minutes, then pulse in the food processor until coarsely chopped.

Meanwhile, bring a large pot of water to a boil--both halves of the squash will need to fit in the pot, so make sure it's big enough. Slice the spaghetti squash in half and spoon out the seeds. Place carefully in boiling water and simmer until al dente--about 12 minutes. Remove and place upside down to cool while you make the tapenade. Once cooled a bit, using a fork, scrape the insides. It will magically form little strips of squash--don't ask questions of Mother Nature, just enjoy.

In a food processor, pulse pitted olives, capers, tomatoes, scallions, lemon juice and a bit of olive oil (anchovies also often go in tapenades).

In a bowl, toss the squash, almonds, feta cheese and tapenade with a drizzle of olive oil and sprinkle with salt a pepper. Serves four as a salad.

And I'll confess here that I am not at all a fan of tapenade. I've made variations before, and I just don't like it, so if you're looking for a good alternative to that sauce, toss squash with feta, salt, pepper, almonds, lemon juice, olive oil and some herbs.

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