7 October 2011

Clotilde Dusoulier's Spaghetti Squash Gratin with Walnuts and Bacon

spaghetti squash on a plate with cheese
Spaghetti Squash Gratin with Walnuts and Bacon
 (Gratin de Gourge Spaghetti, Noix et Lardons)

I just watched Julie and Julia for the "umpteenth" time this week. Am I looking for inspiration, am I seeking validation, or am I just wanting to bask in another bloggers sunshine on a rainy day? I remember when the movie first came out and I took a number of my non-foodie friends to the theatre. I think for the first time they may have caught a glimpse into the passion we have for food, for preparing food, for writing about food and the sense of satisfaction that comes with it. They have never had a problem enjoying food prepared in this kitchen...wink...wink. What they wouldn't be able to understand is the sense of community we have all discovered through blogging. We support, nurture and encourage each other in more ways than one.

 Even if you do not recognize the name Clotilde Dusoulier you will recognize one of the very first blogs I ever came across. Her popular food blog Chocolate and Zucchini has been around for many years. Paris-based Clotilde's love of life and food, and her curiosity about the world comes through in every post and has brought her a legion of adoring fans.
Before we begin don't forget to leave a comment for a chance to win Tate's Bake Shop Whole Wheat Chocolate Chip Cookies....here....

Clotilde is one of the bloggers that has made a success for herself, but then she has always been an exceptional writer. After graduating in IT and working for two years in the Silicon Valley, she came back to Paris and found the apartment of our dreams in Montmartre. Just like us she is a passionate home chef, has an obsession with collecting cookbooks, is a restless food shopper, has a creativeness in the kitchen and is a shameless gourmande. She also loves eating out, and in her column "A Parisian Home Chef," she happily shares recipes, places to find that certain ingredient, entertaining tips and restaurant recommendations.

Passionate about fresh ingredients and chocolate in equal measure she has been blogging over at Chocolate and Zucchini since 2003, written two cookbooks: Chocolate and Zucchini: Daily Adventures in a Parisian Kitchen and Clotilde’s Edible Adventures in Paris, and become number 18 on the Gourmet Live's list of Women Game Changers. She and a legion of other bloggers paved the way for the rest of us to express our creative side. Kudos!!!

One of my favourite well-travelled bloggers Mary of One Perfect Bite invited bloggers to travel along on a culinary journey throughout the year. Gourmet Live brought out a list of the 50 most influential women in food...Fifty women game changers. Some are chefs, some are food writers, and some are women who are passionate about the creative process. You could certainly add or detract women from this list, but no matter what these women have all influenced us in one way or another. Being a woman and passionate about food myself I wanted to explore and join Mary on this journey and not only learn from the masters but recreate some of their dishes to better understand what has shaped and molded them into who they are today. In doing so I have learned more about myself, and have learned more than a few new recipes and techniques.

For 18 weeks we have been experimenting with dishes from each of the 50 influential women on "the list" so far. Whether you agree or disagree with the authors chosen fifty and their order it has been an enjoyable and creative outlet to cook from the masters. We have checked out books from the library, borrowed cookbooks from friends, surfed the Internet and browsed our own cookbook collections seeking that one recipe that will highlight that weeks outstanding woman. My cohorts for this adventure can be found below. If you would like to join in  please contact Mary. This is an informal event and you have the flexibility to follow along when you can. We post every Friday.

What have we been up to with the 18th Game Changer....

Mary of One Perfect Bite - Blueberry Coffee Cake
Val of More Than Burnt Toast - Spaghetti Squash Gratin with Walnuts and Bacon
Joanne of Eats Well With Others - Zucchini Crumble with Figs and Mozzarella
Claudia of A Seasonal Cook in Turkey 
Susan of The Spice Garden  - Gratin de Chou-Fleur
Taryn of Have Kitchen, Will Feed 
Heather of Girlichef  - Olive Oil and Seed Crackers
Miranda of Mangoes and Chutney - Butternut Squash and Vanilla Soup
Jeanette at Jeanette's Healthy Living  - Caramelized Chicken with Green Olives and Prunes
Katie - Making Michael Pollan Proud - Radish Leaf Pesto
Kathleen Van Bruinisse at Bake Away with Me
Sue of View from The Great Island - Zucchini Chocolate Cake
Linda of There and Back Again  - Honey Spice Loaf
Amy of Beloved Green
Barbara of Moveable Feasts - Fregola Sarda with Zucchini and Pine Nuts
Kathleen of Gonna Want Seconds
Linda of Ciao Chow Linda
Martha of Lines from Linderhof
Nancy of Picadillo - Walnut, Pear,and Roquefort Madeleines

Back to the Future....

Over four years of blogging I have found many wonderful recipes to share on these pages. Some from my own kitchen, some from your creative blogs and web sites, and some from well known celebrities and chefs. I have been feeling a little nostalgic and was browsing these very pages just the other day, creeping back to the very beginning in 2006 when More Than Burnt Toast was in it's infancy and no more than "knee high to a grasshopper". We all have those stellar recipes from when we first started when we were lucky enough to find one comment and have maybe one reader; in my case even before I was taking photos of the dishes I prepared. My other motivation for reconnecting with the past is to create uniform formatting on this blog and this is a fun way for me to revisit past posts.

So here are a couple of flashback recipes from the very first baby steps here at MTBT with...

On to the recipe...

**Spaghetti Squash Gratin with Walnuts and Bacon(Gratin de courge spaghetti, noix et lardons)**
  • 1 spaghetti squash, about 2 kilos (about 4 1/2 pounds)
  • 1 thick slice of smoked bacon, about 30 grams (1 ounce) (in France, ask for poitrine fumée)
  • 12 walnut halves, roughly crumbled
  • 60 grams (2 ounces) "dry" mozzarella (i.e. not sold in whey, i.e. the kind you would use for pizza or lasagna), sliced thinly
  • 2 to 3 tablespoons dried breadcrumbs (unseasoned; I make mine by just grinding stale leftover baguette)
  •  olive oil
  • ground chili pepper (optional; I use piment d'Espelette)
  • salt, pepper
1. Preheat the oven to 190°C (375°F) and lightly grease a baking sheet.

 2. Using caution and a sharp chef's knife, cut off a slice on both ends of the spaghetti squash, to remove the stem and the bottom. Set it upright on the cutting board, and slice it vertically in two equal halves. Scrape, scoop out, and discard the seeds and stringy flesh. Rub the insides of each half with olive oil, then sprinkle with salt, pepper, and ground chili pepper.

3. Place both halves on the prepared baking sheet, cut side up, and place in the oven to roast for 40 minutes, until lightly browned and fragrant. A knife should meet minimal resistance when you try to pierce the flesh, but the squash should not feel completely soft, or it may be overcooked and therefore bland. Set the squash halves aside to cool for a few minutes, until you can bear to handle it. Turn off the oven.

 4. While the squash is roasting, slice the bacon into thin strips (lardons), about 5 mm wide (1/5 inch). Place them in a small skillet and cook over medium heat until they've released most of their fat and they're nicely browned. Scoop them out of the skillet and set them on a plate lined with a (single) paper towel.

5. Lightly grease a medium baking dish, about 2 liters (2 quarts) in capacity.

6. When the squash is just cool enough to handle, run a fork across the flesh to separate it into strands. Scoop out and arrange the flesh from one half of the squash to form a layer at the bottom of the pan. Season with salt and pepper, then sprinkle evenly with the bacon strips and walnuts. Arrange the remaining squash flesh in second layer, season with salt and pepper, and top with the thinly sliced mozzarella to just about cover the surface. Sprinkle with the breadcrumbs.

 (You can prepare the gratin ahead up to this point. Let cool completely, cover, and refrigerate until ready to reheat and serve.)

7. Switch the oven on again to 190°C (375°F); no need to preheat it again, as it should still be quite warm. Return the dish to the oven for 5 minutes, until the squash is heated through again (if you've refrigerated the gratin, you'll need to preheat the oven and it will take a little longer to reheat -- say, 15 minutes) then switch to grill mode for a few minutes, until the cheese topping is melted and browned. Serve immediately.

Serves 4 to 6

You are reading this post on More Than Burnt Toast at http://morethanburnttoast.blogspot.com. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to the author and or owner of More Than Burnt Toast. All rights reserved by Valerie Harrison.
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  1. A great gratin! Tasty and comforting sounding.



  2. Wonderful write up on Clotilde, Val. This week was a lot of fun. Your gratin looks wonderful, I never know what to do with spaghetti squash---I'm absolutely dead set against using it as pretend spaghetti ;)

  3. Spaghetti squash is one of our favorites. So pleased to see it in gratin form, Val. Clotilde seems to like cheesy, nutty dishes made with vegetables! So do I. Great choice.

  4. Mmmm...bacon and squash...how could it possibly be anything less than wonderful? Delicious choice of recipe and very lovely tribute, Val =)

  5. You are so right - Clotilde was definitely a trailblazer - and one of the first blogs I ever read. Love this recipe - I have only cooked once with spaghetti squash so maybe it's time for another go! I also love the French title - for years I joked with my mom wen a "baby" marrow was particularly large that it was a courge rather than a courgette - and now I see it is a real word hahaha!

  6. ok now i want to watch julia & julia again.
    I think I will at some point this wknd.
    don't you love how easy the spaghetti squash is to come together? and no crash & burn as you get with normal pasta.

  7. I received the DVD from my kids. When the movie came out they watched it with me and they were surprised that they liked it so much. How to explain the food blogging community to friends, I am not sure they feel it the way I do. They think this is just a bunch of people taking pictures of food and talking about their meals. It goes beyond that and I am so thankful to have met you.

    Happy Thanksgiving!!!

  8. I think C&Z was the first food blog I ever read, and I was enchanted from the beginning. I love this recipe, which would be a great addition to the Thanksgiving table.

  9. I have a soft spot for bloggers turned celebrities ;-)

  10. Valli I love Clotilde blog is absolutely nice and interesting, this recipe look amazing, gloria

  11. Chocolate & Zucchini was one of the first blogs that I ever looked at ... on suggestion from my daughter. She'd suggested that I start a food blog and I didn't even know what a blog was ... she gave the URL for C&Z and the rest is history.

    Spaghetti squash sounds excellent! I've never known what to do with t and I'm with Sue. Using it as a pasta stand-in just wouldn't fly in my household! This veggie side looks wonderful, though!

  12. I have a spaghetti squash on my counter and have been wondering what to make with it, so glad you tried this recipe from Chocolate & Zucchini.

  13. Chocolate and Zucchini was one of the first food blogs that I found on internet. Great write Val, as always. The spaghetti looks stunning

  14. C & Z was the first blog I followed too! I made Clotilde's chocolate zucchini cake last weekend and it was so good....and this spaghetti squash looks awesome too.... I mean, it has bacon, so really, you can't go wrong!

  15. Chocolate and Zucchini was definitely one of the first blogs I came across as well! I came THISCLOSE to making this gratin! It looks SO GOOD.

  16. Clotilde has been such an inspiration to me too and I'm made several great recipes of hers. This one looks wonderful too. I am such a fan of squash of all kinds I know I would love this.

  17. I love spaghetti squash, and pairing it with walnuts, bacon and cheese sounds heavenly. :)

  18. I love that movie. SW it with my daughter and bought it the minute it came out on DVD and haven't had time to watch it again. It would be fun to become a well known blogger like that. I haven't been to Chocolate and Zucchini in a long time but will stop by after this post. What a fun adventure you've all been on.

    Love this recipe. It's always nice to find creative uses for spaghetti squash.

    Great post. I thoroughly enjoyed reading it.

  19. i love spaghetti squash, bacon, and walnuts, but never in a million years would it have occurred to me to meld them into one dish. lovely!

  20. What an interesting post about Clodilde; still so much to learn in our culinary world.
    I wanted to come and thank you for comments on my blog. After reflection, I think I will be keeping the comment post on. I have been going through a rough patch; probably the best time to have friends around,


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