Thursday, October 9, 2008

Roasted Spaghetti Squash with Herbs & Hazelnuts

Recipe from Martha Stewart Living Magazine and Husband-Tested in Alice's Kitchen
Serves 4

My good walking buddy, Janet, recently gave me some spaghetti squash from her garden. My hubby and I usually eat spaghetti squash with spaghetti sauce on it, but I saw this recipe along with an enticing photo of the dish in a Martha Stewart Magazine, I decided to give this a try. My honey, Jim, really liked this dish. I thought it tasted even better the next day after reheating it in the microwave. To learned more about spaghetti squash and hazelnuts, including alternate cooking methods for spaghetti squash, go to this website or read more at the end of this blog entry: http://www.fabulousfoods.com/

1 spaghetti squash (about 4 pounds), halved lengthwise, seeds removed (use a spoon to scrape seeds out, just as you would a pumpkin)
1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil, plus more for brushing
1 tablespoon packed light-brown sugar
Coarse salt and freshly ground pepper
1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese (about 2 1/2 ounces)
1/2 cup chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley
1/2 cup chopped fresh cilantro
1/4 cup blanched hazelnuts (1 ounce), toasted and coarsely chopped (To see how to "blanch," read below.)

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Brush cut sides of squash with oil, and sprinkle with sugar and salt and pepper to taste. Place squash, cut sides down, on a rimmed baking sheet. Roast until tender, about 45 minutes. Let cool slightly on sheet on a wire rack, about 10 minutes.
Scrape squash with a fork to remove flesh in long strands. Place in a large bowl. Add oil, Parmesan, parsley, cilantro, hazelnuts, 1 teaspoon salt, and pepper to taste. Toss, and serve immediately.

More great information about spaghetti squash:
Averaging from 4 to 8 pounds, the cylinder shaped spaghetti squash is generally available year-round with a peak season from early fall through winter. While a true spaghetti squash is pale ivory to pale yellow in color have a mild flavor that is easily enhanced by the food served with or on it. A dieter's dream, a four-ounce serving of spaghetti squash has only 37 calories. Spaghetti Squash can be stored at room temperature for about a month. After cutting, wrap in plastic wrap and refrigerate up to 2 days. Spaghetti squash also freezes well. Pack cooked squash into freezer bags, seal, label and freeze. Partially thaw before re-using, then steam until tender but still firm, about 5 minutes.
How To Cook Spaghetti Squash:
Bake It -- Pierce the whole shell several times with a large fork or skewer and place in baking dish. Cook squash in preheated 375?F oven approximately 1 hour or until flesh is tender.
Boil It -- Heat a pot of water large enough to hold the whole squash. When the water is boiling, drop in the squash and cook for 20 to 30 minutes, depending on its size. When a fork goes easily into the flesh, the squash is done.
Microwave It -- Cut squash in half lengthwise; remove seeds. Place squash cut sides up in a microwave dish with 1/4 cup water. Cover with plastic wrap and cook on high for 10 to 12 minutes, depending on size of squash. Add more cooking time if necessary. Let stand covered, for 5 minutes. With fork "comb" out the strands.
Slow Cooker or Crock-Pot - Choose a smaller spaghetti squash (unless you have an extra large slow cooker) so that it will fit. Add 2 cups of water to slow cooker. Pierce the whole shell several times with a large fork or skewer, add to Crock Pot, cover and cook on low for 8 to 9 hours.

Once the squash is cooked, let it cool for 10 to 20 minutes so it will be easier to handle, before cutting in half (if it wasn't already) and removing the seeds. Pull a fork lengthwise through the flesh to separate it into long strands. You can do these steps ahead of time, then prepare spaghetti squash recipes whenever the mood strikes.

Hazelnuts: Also known as Filberts Rich, sweet, grape sized wild nuts that grow in clusters on the hazel tree. Filberts are used in both sweet and savory dishes, as well as eaten out of hand. You can buy Filberts chopped or whole in packages or in the hard brown shells. If you buy your nuts in the shell, be sure to remove the bitter brown skin before using. The best way to do this is to place them on a baking sheet in a 350F oven for 10 to 15 minutes. Remove nuts from oven and place a couple of handfuls of the roasted nuts at a time in a clean kitchen towel. Rub the nuts vigorously in the towel. This will remove most of the skins.

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