Thursday, November 5, 2009

moroccan-spiced spaghetti squash

spiced spaghetti squash

I keep promising you all some quick, easy recipes but sharing instead a mousse that requires at least five bowls and an electric mixer that must be washed down no less than three times, a quiche that has at least three different components, cauliflower that demands you cook each ingredient separately and a from-scratch doughnut recipe that entails reducing, rolling, freezing, frying and dipping. I have no doubt that you’re standing out there in front of your monitor, hands on hips, demanding answers. Except I don’t have any logic or rationale that will explain I choose to use my limited free minutes of time to make elaborate recipes and not, say, dinner, I only have this one peace offering today.

spaghetti squashscooping out seedsspaghetti squash innardsroasted

There’s a caveat, however. This is a ridiculously quick recipe if you have a microwave. We used to but don’t any longer so it still took over an hour, but it’s an hour that requires only a few minutes of hands-on time. Still, it is my favorite preparation of spaghetti squash, not only because it is delicious but because it approaches winter squash in my favorite way: by waking it up. I’ve never had a taste for squash recipes with cream or sugar or piles of cinnamon; I think the natural sweetness of squash is best contrasted with bolder ingredients, like garlic and tahini, jalapenos, olives and preserved lemons, chile-lime vinagrettes, hearty beans and ham or cayenne-dusted caramelized onions. I think you get the picture.

scraping the squash strands

But this is the simplest one yet, while also being one of the first winter squash recipes I made, and one of the first times I noted how Gourmet always raised the bar, even on simple recipes. I’d say especially on simple recipes. It’s such a shame they won’t be around to do this any longer — and an even bigger shame that their publishers didn’t see or couldn’t find the viability in moving a brand in their prime online — but I’m glad I at least have their archives of speedy gems like these for those increasingly frequent times when the real fun is outside the kitchen.

talking to the farm animals

One year ago: Pepita Brittle, Cottage Cheese Pancakes and Consummate Chocolate Cookies
Two years ago: Lemon Ricotta Pancakes with Sautéed Apples and Roasted Stuffed Onions
Three years ago: Indian-Spiced Vegetable Fritters and Dreamy Cream Scones

Moroccan-Spiced Spaghetti Squash
Adapted from Gourmet

Cooking spaghetti squash in your microwave is super-quick, but roasting it isn’t much more work — I’ve made it both ways and it works equally well. This works great as a side, but I tried something different this time and bulked it up with canned chickpeas, drained and rinsed. We had it with couscous but if I had thought of it sooner, it would also be great with some sautéed greens.

Serves 4

1 (3 1/2- to 4-pound) spaghetti squash
1/2 stick (4 tablespoons) unsalted butter, cut into pieces
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1/2 teaspoon ground coriander
1/8 teaspoon cayenne
3/4 teaspoon salt
2 tablespoons chopped fresh cilantro or flat-leaf parsley, if you’re cilantro-averse

To cook the squash in a microwave: Pierce squash (about an inch deep) all over with a small sharp knife to prevent bursting. Cook in an 800-watt microwave oven on high power (100 percent) for 6 to 7 minutes. Turn squash over and microwave until squash feels slightly soft when pressed, 8 to 10 minutes more. Cool squash for 5 minutes.

To roast the squash, two methods: If you’d like to roast the squash whole, pierce it all over with a small sharp knife to prevent bursting and bake it in a 375°F oven for one hour. If you are good with a big, sharp kinfe, you can save some time by cutting the squash in half lengthwise, scooping out the seeds and roasting the halves face-down in an oiled baking pan for about 40 minutes in a 375°F oven.

Meanwhile, melt the butter in a small saucepan over medium heat. Add the garlic and cook, stirring, until it is barely golden. Stir in spices and salt and remove from heat.

If you have microwaved or roasted your squash whole, carefully halve it lengthwise (it will give off a lot of steam) and remove the seeds.

Carefully halve squash lengthwise (it will give off steam) and remove and discard seeds. Working over a bowl, scrape squash flesh with a fork, loosening and separating strands as you remove it from skin. Toss with the spiced butter and cilantro.


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