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October 22, 2007

Squash Conformity!


Among all communities, there are those who stand out. You may call them freaks or non-conformists, but they make a community worthy of the name. Otherwise, what you have is a collection of things that are all the same – much like bowling pins standing at the end of a lane.


This is true among food as well as people, and the spaghetti squash is one of them. Most of us recognize what to do with a winter squash. You cook it, and then scoop it. But, this is not the case with spaghetti squash. On the inside, it consists of long strands, which one might intuit is the source of its name (strangely, the spaghetti squash predates spaghetti in the chronology of foods by many, many years, but were you to write out a proper birth certificate for the two – the elder would be referred to as “junior”).


You do not cook spaghetti squash as such. You cook a spaghetti squash because it is easier to tackle the entire gourd at once, rather than using a piecemeal approach. This will keep the strands together, and preserve the illusion that it is pasta.


Cooking the gourd is a simple affair. Preheat the oven to 425 degrees, and poke some holes in the squash. This will provide a vent to allow for heat to escape from the inside as the squash heats. Perhaps you have heard the urban legend that a squash not properly ventilated will explode with the energy of seven suns. What happens isn’t nearly as bad as that, but it is not good.


It goes without saying that the bigger the squash the longer it will take to cook. Forty-five minutes is a good guide to start, or wait until the sides are nice and tender (they will be as hot as seven suns exploding all at once). Some of the bigger ones might require as much as an hour or an hour and a half.


Once cooked, remove it and let it stand a few minutes to cook down. Cut it down the middle and remove the seeds.


Typical squashes would now call for the use of a spoon to remove the meat, and perhaps some brown sugar and honey. Put down your spoon, and instead pick up a fork. Use that to remove the strands, separate them and place them into a big bowl.


Here, again, we have another expression of non-conformity. Some have suggested that spaghetti squash is best mixed with marinara sauce. But there is a subtler, better way to enjoy it.


In a skillet, warm enough extra virgin olive oil to coat the strands with a little bit of garlic and crushed black pepper. Once the flavors have infused, pour it over the top of the spaghetti squash. Add to that some freshly shredded parmesan cheese. Mix thoroughly and fly the flag of protest to conformity!


© 2007 North Star Writers Group. May not be republished without permission.


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