revisiting spaghetti squash

It seems as though winter is the time of year to cook things that are ROCK FREAKING HARD! I'm talking rutabagas, sweet potatoes, every other potato, winter squashes, and beets, just to name a few.   And loads of brassicas! Not that it's necessarily a problem, but sometimes my shopping bag gets a tad too heavy.  And is it so tough to ask for some fruit in this situation? Yes, I know, all of those squashes are actually fruits (news flash!).  And yes, I know, citrus fruits are in season....if you are not living on the East Coast sans greenhouse.  

Regardless, December is a fun time to get tricky in the kitchen.  Last season, I gave you an easy recipe for pear ravioli, which are to die for.  I'll be whipping a few of those up in the very near future, and suggest you do the same.  For the moment, I'm grubbing on an item I haven't had since the Detroit Lions were actually a good football team (!!).  In fact, I can't even remember the last time I had eaten it, let alone had the urge to cook with it.  But, as I was standing in the produce aisle, there it was, staring me dead in the eyes - SPAGHETTI SQUASH. 

I mean, spaghetti squash - may I pronounce it pasketti, for old times sake? - is one of those things that you use to trick your kids into eating vegetables (seriously, IT'S A FRUIT).  Look kids, it's a squash, but now it looks like...NOODLES! I kind of used to put it in the same category as items such as the "grapple".  Your kids won't eat apples, so give them an apple that tastes like a grape.  First of all, if your kid would rather have a grape-tasting apple, as opposed to a delicious, regular apple, I'm a tad concerned.  Or how about the grango? A grape that tastes like mango.  That's a bunch of hybrid-fruit trickery, if you ask me! Also, I feel bad for grapes now. Can't a kid just eat a grape?

But back to our spaghetti squash. I do love squashes of all varieties, so I decided to disregard my general discrimination towards this one in particular and whip up a little something, and that something may have changed my thoughts towards spaghetti squash for the remainder of history! This recipe also came about due to my love of roasted red onions - not too mention my apparent new favorite combination of red onions and pistachios.  'Tis the season!  

Rosemary Spaghetti Squash with Roasted Red Onions & Pistachios
Serves 4
2 spaghetti squashes, halved and seeded
4 rosemary sprigs 
1 large red onion, cut into small wedges
1/2 cup toasted pistachios, roughly chopped
Olive Oil
Fresh ground black pepper
A pinch of chili flakes
Parmesan cheese
1 orange, for zesting

Preheat the oven to 375F.  Drizzle each spaghetti squash half with about 1 T of olive oil, sprinkling each with a large pinch of salt and a few grinds of black pepper.  Place a sprig of rosemary in the cavity of each, and invert onto a baking sheet.  Bake in the oven until tender, about 45 minutes.  Test the squash occasionally by poking the outside.  If it gives to pressure, your squash is ready to go!

On another sheet tray, toss the red onion with a couple tablespoons of olive oil, a generous pinch of salt, and a few grinds of black pepper.  Place these in the oven when you have about 20 minutes to go on the squash.  When fully cooked, they should be soft, as well as a tad bit caramelized.  

When all is said and done, it's time to start putting everything together!  Use a fork to pull the squash from the skin - it should come out in neat little strands.  Be careful not too over work the squash, because it will begin to turn into more of a mash if you mess with it too much.  Sprinkle the chili flakes over top, and gently fold half of the pistachio and red onion in.

To plate, divide the mixture evenly between 4 plates or bowls - or leave it in one serving platter for everyone to dig into.  Sprinkle with the remaining pistachios, and scatter the remaining red onion on and around the squash.  Finish with  some grated orange zest, grated Parmesan, and a quick grind of black pepper.  Top with a bit of the roasted rosemary if you're really up for it, and dig in!

Sweet, zesty, salty, zippy, delicious!  The dish looks fun, in terms of all the colors that are involved, and tasted just as good.  The squash has a nice, caramelized sweetness from roasting, and has just a hint of rosemary flavor to it.  The red onions add a bit of that allium-family bite, while the pistachios give a great crunch and subtle saltiness.  It's all rounded out by a little parmesan, and a bright acidity from the orange zest.    Although this could be served as a side or first course, it also definitely can serve as a hearty meal, in and of itself! 


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