Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Awesome winter meal alert

My name is Lauren, and I am addicted to squash from October - February every year.  And then I promptly forget about it, until I see it featured in a seasonal veggie display and get far too excited while meal planning in my head.

There are so many great uses for spaghetti squash, my fave of the gourdy bunch.  I love it tender and tossed with fresh mint, cilantro, lemon juice and EVOO.  I also love the recipe I am about to share with you.  For spaghetti squash bolognese.  Its as if it was designed for gluten free italians like myself.  It has this great SNAP to it, like a super al dente noodle, that I can't get enough of.  It's really nature's gluten free pasta.

I don't eat alot of meat.  I've been going back to it more now, just to give myself the illusion of more food options, but this is amazing with eggplant in the sauce instead of a meat. 

To use eggplant, dice it into small squares, discarding the ends.  Toss eggplant with 2 tbls of kosher salt and place in a strainer with a plate and a 28oz can of tomatoes on top to weight it.  After 30 minutes, the bitter juices of the eggplant will have mostly drained out.  Preheat your oven to 375. Wipe off as much salt as you can and wring out the eggplant in a kitchen towel or paper towel. You'll be surprised by how much liquid comes out.  Then, put it on a greased baking sheet and bake for 30 minutes.  The eggplant should be browned.  Add it to the sauce when nearing completion to infuse it with the herbs and flavors of the sauce.

Spaghetti Squash Bolognese

1 lb ground turkey
28oz can of crushed tomatoes
1/2 medium onion, diced
2 - 4 cloves of garlic
1/2 cup red wine
oregano
basil
parsley
thyme
black pepper

Preheat oven to 375 degrees.

Slice the spaghetti squash in half lengthwise.  Try not to slice off a finger while doing this.  I came close multiple times, because my knives are le suck.  Remove the seeds.  Place both halves of spaghetti squash cut side down in ~ a cup of water in a pyrex/baking dish.  Poke holes in the sides now facing up.  Bake for about 35 minutes.  You can test if its done by poking it with a knife or fork.  If it punctures easily, you are good to go.

While the squash bakes, get your sauce going.  Add about a tbsp of EVOO to heated, medium sized sauce pan heated on medium-high heat. Add diced onions.  After 2 - 3 minutes, add garlic, chopped as finely as you prefer.  I have a garlic press that I adore.  Sautee garlic and onion for 1 minute.  If you are going to use eggplant, skip to the next paragraph. Add turkey, breaking up with a non wooden spoon.  Start stirring in your italian seasonings.  Turkey usually needs a pinch of salt and a liberal sprinkle of black pepper at minimum, but I like it tossed with thyme, oregano, basil and parsley.  A few shakes of each. Let the turkey begin to brown.

Add tomatoes, red wine and more herbs - tsp of each plus more thyme.  Lower heat to medium low and simmer, stirring regularly.  Taste frequently and add herbs as you see fit.  I also like a pinch of nutmeg and a pinch of salt.  If the sauce is too bitter, add a pinch of sugar or a whole carrot that you can remove later to sweeten it up a bit.

When the squash is done, the sauce should be too. (Once the squash is cool enough to handle...) With the cut side facing up, use a large fork and comb through the squash, making "spaghetti."  Scoop it directly into the sauce, stirring to evenly distribute the sauce.  A dash of parmesan, or even some goat cheese goes great on top too.

One of the many reasons why Autumn is my favorite season.  Tasty.

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