My new favorite vegetable to play with is Spaghetti Squash. Slice it open, cook it, shred it with a fork and poof! -- strands of squash that look like spaghetti.
It's dead simple to prepare: just slice it in half length-wise, scoop out the seeds, loosely cover each open half with plastic wrap and microwave until the sides are softened, about 10 minutes. Then carefully scrape the hot squash with the tines of a fork and you're ready to go.
Since this is a winter squash, and winter weather calls for rich and creamy comfort foods, I like using Spaghetti Squash in a gratin. This recipe has a bit of Italian flair; the creme fraiche or sour cream just provides creaminess, and the Parmesan, asiago, parsley, sage and garlic flavors take center-stage. (You can easily leave out the sage if you like, too.) The result is a flavorful, deeply satisfying dish that can be eaten either as an entree or a side.
Spaghetti Squash Gratin
1 spaghetti squash (2-3 lbs), halved lengthwise (stem to blossom end) and seeded
2 - 3 cloves garlic, minced
1 Tbsp chopped fresh thyme (optional)
2 Tbsp chopped fresh parsley
1/2 tsp salt
1/4 tsp coarsely ground pepper
8 oz Creme Fraiche or Sour Cream
1 cup grated Asiago or Parmesan cheese, or a mixture of both
Preheat oven to 450 degrees. Place squash, skin side up (one half at a time), on microwave-safe dish; cover with microwave-safe plastic wrap. Microwave on high for 10-12 min, until tender.
Carefully run the tines of a fork lengthwise over cut surface of squash to loosen spaghetti-like strands; scoop out strands. Drain excess liquid, if necessary, and set aside.
Combine garlic, thyme, parsley, salt, pepper, creme fraiche/sour cream, and 2/3 cup cheese in small bowl. Fold into squash; place in shallow ovenproof 2 qt. casserole dish or glass pie plate. Top with remaining cheese.
Bake 20 min or until lightly browned. (For a little extra browning, finish under the broiler.)