December 17, 2009

Spaghetti Squash Gratin

My first spaghetti squash! I have to admit, I was pretty sure I'd enjoy this new product even though I never tasted it before. I pretty much like all things coming from the squash/gourd family - cucumbers, zucchini, butternut squash, pumpkins and now spaghetti squash :)

The spaghetti squash is a kooky little thing. In its uncooked form it looks like any other large winter squash - thin outer shell, firm flesh and seeds in its center. Once cooked, however, its flesh separates into individual strands, like spaghetti, instead of just turning soft. Hence, its spaghetti name!

I was really happy that this gratin wasn't overly cheesy or creamy. You could really taste the squash in it. I mean, why cover up such a tasty ingredient with so many other extras that will just mask its naturally delicious flavor? And the layer of Parmesan cheese on top turned brown and bubbly and crispy. YUM! I definitely recommend you try this gratin. It would make a great vegetarian side dish for any holiday pot lucks you might be attending (or throwing).

I served this gratin as a second side dish to grilled pork chops. The first side dish was green beans sauteed with caramelized onions. But more on that later.

Spaghetti Squash Gratin
(serves 6 as a side dish)

adapted from Nicole's recipe over at Pinch My Salt

1 spaghetti squash (about 4.5 lbs)
2 shallots, minced
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 tbsp butter
0.5 tsp dried thyme
0.5 cup heavy cream (or sub whole milk)
2 tbsp sour cream (I subbed w/ buttermilk)
1 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese, divided
salt & pepper to taste
  • Preheat oven to 375F. Grease a small baking dish with butter or cooking spray.
  • Prepare the spaghetti squash: Split in half, lengthwise. Scoop out seeds & stringy flesh, discard. Drizzle with olive oil, sprinkle with salt & pepper and message seasoning into the flesh with your fingers. Place on baking sheet, cut side up, and bake until lightly browned and fragrant, about 50 minutes. When pierced with a fork, the flesh should give minimal resistance, but not be completely soft and mushy. Remove and let cool.
  • Meanwhile, melt butter over medium heat in a medium skillet. Saute the shallots until softened, about 4 minutes. Add the garlic and cook another minute until fragrant. Remove from heat and place in a large mixing bowl. Add thyme, heavy cream (or milk), sour cream (or buttermilk) and half of the Parmesan cheese.
  • Shred the flesh of the spaghetti squash with a fork. It should easily come away from its shell and separate into individual strands. Add to mixing bowl, season with salt & pepper and toss everything together (just a touch more salt will do here, since the Parmesan cheese is naturally salty). Pour mixture into greased baking dish. Top with remaining 1/2 cup Parmesan cheese.
  • Bake, uncovered, 20-25 minutes until cheesy top is browned and bubbly. Remove and let cool slightly before serving.

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