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Friday, June 18, 2010

How to Tackle a Spaghetti Squash

We should be happy with our improved food choices in Virginia—not just a wider range of groceries but an excellent selection of farmers' markets. Still, we miss the weekly box of produce we used to get in the summer from Fort Hill Farm in New Milford, Connecticut. Fortunately, we saved a lot of the recipes that came with the box and can draw on them when we need to. The food-loving farmers at Fort Hill put a lot of thought into getting the most flavor out of their produce.

Spaghetti squash, for example. Every supermarket has a pile of these big pale yellow vegetables, but people tend to walk right past them. Maybe they don't know how to fix them; maybe they've tried them and found the results to be kind of boring. After all, unadorned cooked squash can be pretty blah.

The trick to spaghetti squash is using it for its texture rather than for its flavor. Its stringy flesh resembles crunchy pasta and makes an excellent vehicle for any kind of sauce, including basic tomato.

In this recipe from Fort Hill Farm, simple ingredients turn a shrugworthy vegetable into something delicious.

Spaghetti Squash à la Farmer Paul

1 spaghetti squash
4 or 5 cloves garlic, minced
Freshly grated Parmesan or Romano cheese
extra-virgin olive oil
Sea salt and fresh-ground black pepper

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

2. Cut the squash in half lengthwise, and scoop out the seeds. Place both squash halves cut side down on a lightly oiled baking dish, and add about one inch of water. Cover and bake for 20 or 30 minutes, depending on the size of the squash. When you can stick a fork through the skin without much effort, it's done.

3. Remove the squash from the oven and set it on a dish to cook. When it's cool enough to handle, scrape the squash flesh from the skin using a fork. As you do this, the squash will turn to spaghetti-like strings. Set aside.

4. Heat a couple of tablespoons of olive oil over medium heat in a large skillet. Add the garlic, and sauté for one minute or until the garlic is just fragrant. Add the squash and toss well. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Serve immediately with lots of fresh-grated Parmesan or Romano cheese. Enjoy!

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