Thursday, May 15, 2008

Squash Chronicles - Part I

Last week, Daddy stopped by with veggies from DiIorio Farms about 40 miles from here (post). Most of the veggies went into a really nice veggie soup and into the freezer.  But then there were three squash: spaghetti, butternut, and acorn. Never having enjoyed any of them outside an autumn porch decoration, I've gone on a journey to discover them in the way nature intended. This is Part I of their tale - The Squash Chronicles.

Spaghetti squash - Other than the fact that I almost cut off my hand getting it open, it's a cool veggie (that shell is unbelievable hard though!). Once I actually got it split in two, all I did was lay it on a cookie sheet with a little olive oil and bake it at 350 degrees for 45 minutes face down, then 10 minutes face up.  It was nice and toasty brown on top and I just forked the goodies from the center. It looks like thin spaghetti noodles. Kinda cool! 

To top it off, I was completely prepared to poo-poo the taste. I mean, for whatever reason, I've never had it before and since it's such a pain to get into, it's probably just not worth it, right? Yeah, I know, sometimes my logic needs a little help, but stay with me. This stuff is great!  I didn't even put butter on it. I just ate it right out of the shell and it was delicious!  Surprise, surprise! Put that one on the favorites list!

Next time, I think I'll try it in a stir fry. I've heard they can even be substituted for pasta with pasta sauce. Mmmm.

Naturally, I saved the seeds (I love nuts and seeds, but the only local versions I've found are pecans in the fall).  Toasting the seeds was super easy and they made an amazingly delicious afternoon treat. Just wash and dry the seeds to remove the pulp, spread them out onto a cookie sheet, spray with cooking oil, lightly salt, and bake at 350 until the seeds start browning and are fragrant (it took 20 minutes in my toaster oven). Yum!  

Between the discovery of a new favorite food and access to those yummy seeds,  it was totally worth almost-cutting-my-hand off!  Keep 'em coming! 


Beany said...

I had spaghetti squash for the first time last fall and I love the taste. Its a great substitute for pasta noodles. I think I baked it for a few minutes before I tried to cut it in half...made it easier.

But I do wonder how the first person who ate squash actually ate it...seems like an incredible pain to get to the meat.

Jenelle said...

I found an easy way to open any squash (or any hard rind for that matter). Take the squash and put your large knife onto the place you want to cut. Then take a rubber mallet (never used for hardware) and tap the knife into and through the squash. I cook spaghetti squash in the microwave with water to steam it, then separate the 'noodles' and add olive oil, parmasean cheese, pepper and salt. Butternut is good with ground fennel, cinnamon and nutmeg.

Heather said...

Jenelle - great idea about opening the squash. I'll have to try that next time - and there will definitely be a next time. And your recipe sounds great! I'll bet it's tasty with some shredded gouda from the local dairy and olive oil from Carolyn (Amici oil) at the farmers market!

Beany - I'm guessing the first person who ate squash was playing baseball with it and broke it by mistake. That sucker is TOUGH! Thankfully he figured it out though. I'm looking forward to trying it with some homemade pasta sauce and Jenelle's olive oil and cheese recipe. Mmmm. Maybe if I combine the tips - heat it up a bit then crack it open with the rubber mallet - it'll turn out to be super easy. I might just have to stock up and do some serious experimenting...