A Recipe for Spaghetti Squash with Creamy White Cheddar Sauce
Aunt Millie just came down with the flu and you are in charge of preparing a get together for 20 assorted family and friends at the last minute. Darwin and Emma are vegetarian. What do you do? Now I don't have a Darwin or an Emma or an Aunt Millie for that matter (names have been changed to protect the innocent) but I do have vegetarians. Too often when vegetarians come to dinner they end up eating side dishes. I grew up with a vegetarian dad so a little has rubbed off on me, and more so as years have gone by. When my friends come to my home I like them to feel that I made the special effort to accomodate them in every way.
You've heard spaghetti squash is a great substitute for pasta, and you have one sitting on your counter. Now what do you do with it? Just about any way you can think of to apply heat can be used to cook a spaghetti squash. Although you can boil or steam spaghetti squash or even prepare it in a slow cooker, I recommend roasting it in the oven, especially when it will be used in a more complex recipe. Cooking in dry heat concentrates its flavours and evaporates some of the squash’s moisture. This is the perfect method for making this dish. When the squash is boiled or steamed, it can become a bit too watery to work well in today’s recipe but would be a great pasta substitute or nice with some butter and herbs!!!
To cook the squash in the oven, use a heavy knife or cleaver to cut it in half lengthwise. Set on a baking sheet and set on the middle rack in a 350F oven. Cook for about 35 to 40 minutes or until the flesh is tender when poked with a fork. Alternately, you can pierce the shell with a heavy fork in several places and bake it whole for about 1 to 1¼ hours as I do. It is important to pierce the shell or you may have some mishaps in your oven. To remove the flesh, hold the sliced squash in your hand with a doubled tea towel and use a spoon to remove the seeds and then use a fork to pull the flesh from the skin. In the large bowl use two forks to separate it into strands.
I discovered spaghetti squash, or I should say my mom discovered it when I was "knee high to a grasshopper". Mom usually served it with just a dab of butter and sometimes herbs. Me I love to play, so quite often add tomatoes or salsa as well as CHEESE!!!This recipe would be great for my vegetarian friends but not so much for those who are lactose intolerant or vegan. Look at all that cheese!!!!
Spaghetti squash, also know as "calabash squash" or "vegetable spaghetti", is really quite unique because when cooked the flesh looks like thin translucent strands of thin spaghetti. It has a mild, delicate flavour somewhat like that of yellow summer squash and a watery texture.The flavour of spaghetti squash is similar to other winter squashes but its texture reflects its name. I thought perhaps we could rename it "angel hair pasta squash" or "spaghettini squash" which would more acurately describe the strands, which are not as fat as cooked spaghetti noodles. This texture is the squash’s greatest asset, and the best recipes, I think, play to it.
Averaging from 4 to 8 pounds, the cylinder shaped spaghetti squash is generally available year-round with a peak season from early fall through winter. A dieter's dream since a four-ounce serving of spaghetti squash has only 37 calories. This is altered of course with this creamy sauce and cheese, but it is equally delicious served plainly.
For this recipe I baked the squash one day and then the second day I cut it in half, removed the seeds and baked the filling stuffed shell for about 20 minutes to warm through. In the recipe it is served the same day, but this is an option for busy cooks.
**Spaghetti Squash, With Creamy White Cheddar Sauce**
2 small spaghetti squash (see instructions above to cook or bake squash)
3 tablespoons/45 mL butter
1 onion, chopped
1 small eggplant, diced
1 garlic clove, chopped
3 tablespoons/45 mL flour
1 cup/250 mL vegetable pr chicken stock
2 cups/500 mL milk
2 cups/500 mL white Cheddar, grated
Salt and freshly ground pepper, to taste
Preheat the oven on broil.
Now that your squash is cooked according to any of these methods, cut the squash in two and remove the seeds. Set aside.
In a large frying pan, melt the butter and brown the onion and eggplant until they are golden. Add the garlic and continue cooking for two minutes. Sprinkle with flour and cook for two minutes while stirring. Add the stock, milk and half of the Cheddar Le Valida. Add salt and pepper. Continue cooking for a few more minutes until the mixture thickens. Shred the insides of the spaghetti squash and add them to the mixture. Fill the hollowed-out squash halves with the mixture. Cover with the remaining cheese and broil in the oven.
Serves 2 - 4 depending