Thanks to MySpace, I recently got back in touch with Paula, who had been my best friend for a number of years when I was a kid. For a couple years of that friendship, we lived within walking distance of each other and we were in and out of each other’s houses on a regular basis.
I was thinking about this recently, and although I know I must’ve eaten dinner at her house dozens of times, there’s only one food that I really remember eating: spaghetti squash.
Although we both had Italian last names, Paula’s family was Italian with a capital I. So, when her mom said we were having “spaghetti squash,” I had no idea what she was talking about. Squash, to me, meant that orange puree we had only at Thanksgiving, but, being cripplingly shy, I’m sure I didn’t say as much at the time.
When Paula’s mom picked up a bright yellow squash half and raked a fork through it, turning the flesh into pale yellow, spaghetti-like ribbons, I was absolutely enchanted. I may have been twelve or so at the time, but I still thought getting spaghetti from a squash was downright magical.
So, Paula’s mom — I guess being an adult I could call you Mary now, but it still seems impolite — this one’s for you: spaghetti with spaghetti squash.
Spaghetti with spaghetti squash, adapted from Vegetarian Planet:
- 1 spaghetti squash
- olive oil
- 8 oz. spaghetti
- 5-6 garlic cloves, minced
- 1 tsp. red pepper flakes
- 5-6 pieces of stale bread, torn or chopped into small pieces
- 1/4 cup walnut pieces
- 1/2 cup parsley
- juice from one lemon
- hard, grating cheese (I used Manchego)
Split squash in half and remove seeds without damaging the squash flesh. Brush halves with oil and roast in a 350-degree oven for an hour.
Bring a pot of salted water to a boil and cook pasta accordingly. Drain and return to pot. While pasta is cooking, heat a skillet with 1/4 cup of olive oil. Add garlic, red pepper flakes, bread pieces, and walnuts to oil and, stirring constantly, cook over medium heat. When the bread and walnuts are a bit toasted, add to pasta.
Scrape the flesh from the spaghetti squash and add to the pasta/bread mixture. Add the lemon and parsley. Salt to taste and loosen the mixture, if necessary, with a little oil. Warm until heated through.
Serve with cheese and drained capers.
Notes: As much as I enjoyed the spaghetti-meets-spaghetti idea, getting the two to incorporate thoroughly was a pain in the ass. I think next time I’d make this with a short, tubular pasta or maybe even orzo. I can’t believe I got caught without Parmesan cheese! The Manchego was good — because, well, it’s Manchego — but it didn’t add enough of that sharp little nip you get from good Parmesan. Also, try as I might, I really don’t like walnuts. I want to, but I just don’t.