Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Spaghetti Squash Two Ways with Crostini and Pesto

This lovely meal was made by me and my mom. She loves spaghetti squash and she also loves to cook. This evening we just happened to be in the kitchen at the same time, so the two-way spaghetti squash took its course. I bought these at a local Arizona farm down in Gilbert, and I was so excited to bring them home to show her. And of course, she was excited for dinner that night. I usually roast my spaghetti squash, but all of my life my mom has steamed hers. So we worked side-by-side, she steamed a couple, and I roasted a couple just so we could see what was better. Both ways are awesome and unique in their own way, although I still think I prefer mine roasted... Thus I thought to present it both ways, because I know everyone out there would have their preferences too.

I served dinner with a nice tomato sauce to go over the spaghetti squash, with crostini as the side dish. The crostini was directly inspired by a cooking class Billy and I had the privilege of attending last weekend (which was so much fun by the way!). This little appetizer is satisfying enough to be dinner on its own (according to me anyways), but I know other people may not agree with that simplicity.  So if you're curious, the crostini goes well as a stand alone appetizer, or pairs well with any Italian themed meal. 

Two-Way Spaghetti Squash with Tomato Sauce
Serves: 4+ Time: 1 hr
Gluten-Free | Vegetarian
2 Spaghetti Squash, sliced lengthwise, seeds and soft middle scooped out
\ roasting options- 2+ tbsp olive oil, 2 tsp salt

Tomato Sauce Ingredients:
2 tbsp olive oil
1 onion, minced
1 garlic clove, minced
1 tsp fennel seeds
1/4 tsp nutmeg, ground
1 tsp dried oregano
1/2 tsp red pepper flakes
28 oz can stewed whole-peeled tomatoes
salt and pepper, to taste
2 tsp sugar
1/2 cup parmesan, freshly grated

How To:
Option 1 Steaming 
1) Fill a large and deep pan about 1/3 full with water. Place in steaming basket. Place spaghetti squash cut-side down on top of the steaming basket. Cover pot. Bring water to a boil, then drop heat to medium.

2) Cook for 45 minutes to an hour, and the flesh is soft enough to tear with a fork. Once it is soft enough, remove from steamer, and using a fork, fluff up all of the flesh. It will appear just like spaghetti noodles.

Option 2 Roasting
1) Heat oven to 375ºF. Place a piece of foil on a baking sheet. Rub spaghetti squash with olive oil and then sprinkle with salt, inside and out. Place cut side down on the baking sheet.

2) Bake for 45 minutes to an hour or until slightly browned on edges, and the flesh is soft enough to tear with a fork. Once it is soft enough, remove from oven, and using a fork, fluff up all of the flesh. It will appear just like spaghetti noodles.

Tomato Sauce:
1) In a saucepan over medium heat, add olive oil. Once oil is hot, add onions. Saute for 5 minutes or until fragrant and softened. Add garlic, fennel seeds, nutmeg, oregano, and red pepper flakes. The oil in the pan will help distribute the spices into the sauce.

2) Add tomatoes and sauce to the pan. Smash up the tomatoes with your cooking utensil. Drop heat to medium-low and continue to cook for 30 minutes, stirring occasionally.

3) Add salt and pepper to taste. Taste the sauce, and add the sugar if it needs it. Continue to cook for another 5 minutes. Turn off heat.

4) Set a large bowl on the counter with a fine mesh metal sieve setting in it. Pour the tomato sauce into the sieve. The immediate liquid that comes out into the bowl, toss. Set the sieve back into the bowl, and using a rubber spatula, press the tomatoes through the sieve. Scrape along the sieve occasionally. A portion of the tomatoes will remain in the sieve. Add a small amount of it back into the sauce (or all of it if you like the chunkier texture) and stir until mixed.

Serve: Set the spaghetti squash on a plate with a serving of tomato sauce and parmesan cheese. Serve with Crostini, if desired. 

Crostini with Chevre and Cilantro Pesto
Serves: 4+ Time: 30 min

1 french loaf or baguette, sliced into small discs
2 tbsp olive oil
2 tsp salt

Cilantro Pesto Ingredients:
1 large garlic clove
1/4 cup pine nuts
1 bunch cilantro, rinsed well, patted dry, stems removed
1/4 cup basil, rinsed well, patted dry
1/4 cup olive oil
1/3 cup parmesan cheese, grated
salt and pepper, to taste
Herbed Chevre (Goat Cheese), at room temperature

How To:
1) Heat oven to 375ºF. Toss the bread slices in a bowl with the olive oil and salt until coated. Place on a baking sheet (covered with foil for easy cleanup). Toast on one side for 10 or 15 minutes until starting to brown. Turn the slices to brown the other side, and bake for another 5 minutes or until nice and crispy. Remove from oven and let cool.

2) In a food processor combine garlic, pine nuts, cilantro and basil. Process for a few seconds, and scrape the sides of the bowl. Process again until smoother. As you process, add olive oil in a steady stream until it is well mixed. Add cheese with salt and pepper and process until just combined.

3) Serve toasts with fresh pesto and Chevre cheese, by layering first the cheese, and then topping with the fresh pesto. Enjoy!

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