Spaghetti Squash and Chanterelle Mushrooms
Here in New York, I have a sinking feeling that we're getting to the tail end of farmers market season. I mean, yes, the one in Union Square basically stays open through the winter, but I don't know how much longer the market will feel abundant.
But for now it does. With stalls and stalls of squash spilling over baskets. All different kinds mingling in heaps, with colors, textures and shapes that make it seem impossible that they could be related.
And on the way to the market, we founds several other objects mingling in heaps or rows or on walls. All with different colors, and textures, and shapes. How very, very New York.
It was actually my sister who can be thanked for this amazingly delicious recipe, now that we're getting to it. I don't know why, but for some reason, I have had incredible luck in the kitchen lately. What with these Millet and Sweet Potato Cakes which are my favorite veggie patties ever, and a cake that's going to be making an appearance very soon. You can add this to the list of what makes me happy to be cooking in New York.
Back to my sister. She gave me Deborah Madison's Local Flavors for my birthday the other year, and I really wanted to make a day of it with her. Going to the market, getting the ingredients, making it. But we ran out of time during her visit, so R and I got all the squash to ourselves after she left. Sorry Lil' C. It was frickin' delicious.
R literally thought he was eating pasta with some kind of meat. He was eating neither. If you've never had spaghetti squash there is no time like the present. So I think we've agreed that you're going to make this as soon as possible. Do it when you have some guests to impress, so you can take your bow to real applause. Don't be afraid to demand the applause, either.
Not sure what spaghetti squash looks like? In all those pictures of squash I didn't put one up of the squash in question. It's the plain-looking oval one in the image above. Oh, and I need to have a word about mushrooms for a moment. There are those who will tell you to wipe them with a towel for fear of getting them wet and allowing them to soak up water like a sponge. I don't buy it, and neither do the good people at Cook Think, and they further cite Jacques Pepin, Alton Brown and Harold McGee. So whatever, your choice. I washed mine.
Spaghetti Squash Gratin with Chanterelles
Adopted from Deborah Madison's Local Flavors
1 large spaghetti squash, about 3 pounds
1 pound chanterelles (I know these are expensive, but they're worth it. Make it for a special occasion)
4 tablespoons or so unsalted butter
Salt and pepper to taste
2 garlic cloves, passed through a press
1 cup half-and-half
Freshly grated Parmesan cheese for sprinkling over the top
Preheat the oven to 375F. Butter a shallow baking dish, like a pyrex. Using a fork, poke a bunch of holes in the skin of the squash and then bake in the dish until it's browned and pretty soft. About 1.5 hours.
In the meantime, clean the chanterelles. I washed mine (see above). Slice them into small pieces as you melt half of the butter in a large saute pan. Add the mushrooms and cook over medium heat until tender, about 10 minutes. Season with salt and pepper, then add the garlic and half-and-half. Adjust the heat if you need to in order to simmer the liquid gently for 10 minutes. Remove from the heat and set aside.
When the squash is done, remove from the oven and cut in half. Scoop out the seeds and discard, then scoop the strands of spaghetti squash into a serving bowl. Toss the strands with the rest of the butter and season with salt and pepper. Top with the mushroom mixture, then give it a good shaving of Parmesan cheese over the top. Serve.