Mar 14, 2016

Cooking SPAGHETTI SQUASH








Today I was in Friendly Market's produce department and noticed that they had spaghetti squash for sale. Apparently they have been in the produce section for several weeks but I didn't notice them. They looked like yellow footballs and are quite heavy. I bought a 4.19 pound squash for $6.66, easily enough to feed 4 to 6 people, and that was the smallest one they had. 

Spaghetti squash is seasonal and is available on other islands or on the Mainland, but on Moloka'i it usually isn't. If you haven't tried it, it's very easy to cook, and makes for an unusual and delicious side dish. It's got a tough outer yellow skin which you have to carefully cut into with a large sharp knife so that it is cut in half lengthwise. Remove the seeds and hairy strands with a spoon, or whatever gets the job done, then preheat your oven to 375˚F.


Now place the two halves, cut side down, in a roasting pan. Pour about 1 cup of water into the pan so the water is at least 1/4 inch above the sides of the squash. 

Bake until just tender, but not mushy, 35 minutes or so. 



Let the squash cool, then rake a fork back and forth across each half of the squash to remove its flesh in strands... like spaghetti. 



Now simply put the strands of squash in a large skillet, add 3 tablespoons of melted butter, 2 cloves of minced garlic, salt and pepper to taste. Keep warm until ready to serve. Garnish with chopped fresh basil from Kumu Farms, or parsley and chopped roasted red pepper. Sprinkle with 1/4 cup of shredded parmesan cheese, and serve.

Spaghetti squash is loaded with nutrients 
has a mild, delicious flavor, and should be served so that the strands are slightly crispy, not mushy. One squash will feed several people, and kids love it. Spaghetti squash makes an excellent side dish for chicken, fish, pork, whatever, or use it in a frittata, or as you would spaghetti, with a meat sauce, or make a cold spaghetti squash salad (recipe below). The possibilities are endless.


Spaghetti Squash Salad 
with Papaya Seed Dressing
Cold leftover spaghetti squash can be made into a delicious salad. Because the squash has a mild flavor, and crunchy texture, it works well as a base for almost any other ingredients you might like to add. This is my version of a Hawaiian spaghetti squash salad with papaya and avocado.

Ingredients:
4 pound spaghetti squash
4 cups spinach leaves, stems removed
20 cherry tomatoes, halved, or fresh papaya slices
1 large Hawaiian avocado, peeled, seeded and sliced
1 red bell pepper, stemmed and thinly sliced
1/2 cup kalamata black olives, chopped
1 cup papaya seed salad dressing (recipe below)

Procedure:
Preheat oven to 375˚F.

Halve squash lengthwise; scoop out seeds. Place halves cut-side down in a roasting pan: add water to a depth of 1/4 inch. Roast the squash for 35 minutes. Drain and cool squash. With a fork, pull off spaghetti-like strands of the squash and place in a large bowl, season with salt and pepper to taste, then cover with plastic wrap and chill until ready to serve. When ready to serve, arrange chilled spinach leaves around the edges of four chilled salad plates. Place chilled squash in the center of the plates, and top with the other ingredients. Season salads with salad dressing and serve. Makes 4 large servings.


Papaya Seed Salad Dressing
You can buy papaya seed salad dressing in a bottle from your grocery store, but homemade is better.

Ingredients:
Papaya from Kumu Farms on Moloka'i
1 papaya, halved, reserving 1 tablespoon of the seeds
1/4 cup fresh papaya
1/4 cup maui or red onion, minced
1/4 cup cilantro
1 clove garlic
1 1/2 tablespoons fresh ginger, peeled
2 tablespoons seasoned rice wine vinegar
2 tablespoons of fresh lime juice
2 teaspoons honey
1/2 teaspoon sea salt
pinch of chili pepper flakes
1/4 cup olive oil

Procedure:
Add papaya seeds, papaya flesh, and onion to a food processor or blender, and pulse a few times to chop (the papaya seeds should be the consistency of ground pepper after blending). Add the rest of the ingredients, except the olive oil, and pulse 3 or 4 times. Gradually add the olive oil in a thin stream, while the processor is running, to thicken the dressing. Taste and adjust the taste to your liking. Makes about 1 cup of dressing.

Note: This dressing makes a great marinade for grilled chicken or pork, use the papaya fruit in a salsa to serve with the chicken. Store dressing in a tightly sealed container in the refrigerator for up to one week.


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