Sunday, November 4, 2007

At Last! The Spaghetti Squash.

Remember the spaghetti squash? Yeah, it's been sitting on my shelf this whole time.

spaghetti squash whole

When Corey and I had only been dating a couple months, I started to make asparagus for dinner one night. "Asparagus makes me vomit", he says. "Good, more for me", I say. "God, dramatic much?", I think. I go about my business lightly steaming the spears and the next thing I know, he's flung the bedroom window open and is hanging out making retching noises over the fire escape. So now I only have asparagus when he's not around.

And I took him seriously when he said he hated spaghetti squash almost as much as asparagus. The problem is that we've since moved in together, and around that same time he took a new job that requires a lot less travel than the old one, so it was a long time till I was alone long enough to cook the bloody thing. Fortunately, winter squashes have a long shelf life.

Finally one day last week, Corey had a conference in NJ, and Max was sick, so I had to work from home. First I cut the squash in half lengthwise. Somehow it's butter yellow skin had left me with the subconscious expectation that it would be relatively easy to slice, an impression that its unrotted weeks patiently awaiting use hadn't dispelled. I can be thick too.

spaghetti squash halved

As you can see from this sad, butchered specimen, it was as fun the cut as any pumpkin. And I was surprised to see that raw it looks pretty much like any other winter squash. I guess maybe I was hoping for the strands to come bursting out like one of those joke peanut cans filled with springy snakes. Not so much. Ok, so far spaghetti squash? Not nearly as exciting as my fevered childhood imagination had promised, but I would soldier on.

I scraped out the guts and set them aside then placed one half face down in a covered steamer basket over boiling water. While it was steaming, I separated the seeds from the guts and swirled them around a sieve under running water till the sliminess was considerably reduced. I spread the seeds on a few layers of paper towels to dry, then lifted the lid and poked the now very sweaty squash half with a knife. It went in with only moderate resistance, so I figured it was time to swap out the halves (this was the larger half, after about 15 minutes of steaming).

I set the cooked half to the side, face up, to cool and preheated the oven to 325. I blotted the rest of the water from the seeds and scraped them off the paper towels into a small bowl. I sprayed them with a little Trader Joe's aerosol olive oil, the sprinkled on some cayenne pepper, this maple sugar, and kosher salt, stirred till the seeds were evenly coated, spread them more or less evenly on a foil lined tray, and popped them into the oven. By this time a little over 10 minutes had elapsed, so I checked the other squash half and it was done.

I really can't say how long the seeds were in the oven. I cleaned up the mess-so-far. I prepped some other stuff. I piddled on the computer. After the first 40 minutes or so, I checked on them periodically, and after they started looking brown I checked on them more frequently, taste testing, or really texture testing, them every ten minutes until they were entirely crunchy and delicious without any lingering fiberousness in the hull or stickiness in the nut. An hour and a half? Two hours? Till they were done.

spiced spaghetti squash seeds

The seed itself was, to my taste, not significantly different from a pumpkin seed. The spicy sweet salty combination of spices was completely addictive and made me wish spaghetti squash had as many seeds as pumpkin does.

By the time we had devoured all the seeds, the meat was cooled off and ready to play with.

To be continued . . .

No comments: