2.16.2011

Spaghetti Squash Gratin

Photos courtesy onceuponachef.com


By Jennifer Segal
Metrocurean contributor, onceuponachef.com


My
mom calls this dish “a gift from the diet gods.” She’s right. If you’re
not already a convert, spaghetti squash is a delicious low-carb,
low-cal alternative to pasta. When cooked, it miraculously transforms
into golden, spaghetti-like strands.


Here, I toss it with marinara sauce and top it with crispy panko and
shredded Italian cheeses. It emerges from the oven bubbling and golden
brown, like your favorite baked pasta reinvented.


Serve as a vegetarian main course — you'll feel virtuous eating it — or as a side dish to Italian sausage or meatballs. Enjoy!

Spaghetti Squash Gratin

serves 4 as a main course or 8 as a side


2 small or one large spaghetti squash (about 4 ½ - 5 pounds total)*

1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil

1 ¾ cups jarred marinara sauce, best quality (such as Rao’s)

salt

½ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

1½ teaspoons fresh thyme, or ½ teaspoon dried

1 cup shredded Italian cheese blend, best quality (typically Fontina, Asiago and Parmesan)

1 tablespoon unsalted butter, melted

½ cup Panko breadcrumbs

Freshly grated Parmesan cheese, for serving


* Select spaghetti squash that feel heavy for their size.



Preheat oven to 425 degrees.


Fill a large pot with about 2
inches of water and bring to a simmer. Place spaghetti squash in pot,
cover with lid and simmer, turning once, for about 30 -40 minutes, or
until squash is tender and easily pierced with a fork. Let cool.


Cut
squash in half and remove seeds. Use a spoon to scoop out flesh, being
careful not to shred the strands. (It is best to go from side to side,
rather than lengthwise.) Place strands in a large bowl.


Add extra
virgin olive oil, marinara sauce, 1 teaspoon salt, pepper, and thyme to
bowl and toss gently until squash is well coated with sauce. Taste and
add more salt if necessary. (I usually add quite a bit more but salt to
your own taste.)


Transfer mixture to a 9 x 13-inch baking dish. Sprinkle grated cheese
evenly over top. Combine melted butter with panko and sprinkle evenly
over top of cheese. Bake for 25-35 minutes, or until top is golden.
Serve with grated Parmesan cheese.








Jennifer Segal is the founder and publisher of Once Upon a Chef,
a cooking blog featuring easy and elegant recipes. Before launching her
blog, Jennifer earned her culinary stripes working front and back of
the house at some of DC's top fine dining restaurants, including
L'Auberge Chez Francois, Sam & Harry's and The Caucus Room.



She has also done private catering and restaurant public relations.
Jennifer is a graduate of the professional Culinary Arts Program at
L'Academie de Cuisine.













Jennifer Segal is the founder and publisher of Once Upon a Chef,
a cooking blog featuring easy and elegant recipes. Before launching her
blog, Jennifer earned her culinary stripes working front and back of
the house at some of DC's top fine dining restaurants, including
L'Auberge Chez Francois, Sam & Harry's and The Caucus Room.



She has also done private catering and restaurant public relations.
Jennifer is a graduate of the professional Culinary Arts Program at
L'Academie de Cuisine.








5 comments:

Anonymous said...

I made this last night, and it was amazing! Spaghetti squash, where have you been all my life. SO simple, and my meat-adoring (as in, makes his own pancetta in our 2nd bathroom meat-adoring) husband loved it.
Thanks for this recipe. Going into the regular rotation.

Patrick said...

Thanks, Jennifer! I tried it and liked it a lot. The marinara sauce gave the squash taste, and the squash gave the sauce texture. The only problem was that the spaghetti squash seemed much harder to de-seed after the squash had been simmering and gotten so tender. Maybe I should have let it cool longer, but next time, I'm going to try splitting the squash and de-seeding it first; then, rejoing the halfs and steaming them. What do you think?

Anonymous said...

I agree with Patrick's comments regarding the seeds. Next time I'll try roasting it, after taking the seeds out. Otherwise, absolutely delicious! I added some sauteed ground turkey and onions mixed with more sauce on the top.

Jennifer said...

Hi All, Sorry for the delay in responding to your comments! Re. the seed issue, I have a hard time cutting spaghetti squash raw. I know some people microwave it for a few minutes to soften it up, then cut it in half, remove the seeds and roast the halves until tender. I wouldn't suggest cutting it and then boiling it, as it will absorb lots of excess water. Hope that helps! -Jennifer

Amanda said...

Thanks for chiming in, Jenn!