October 15, 2010

Spaghetti squash gratin

I love winter squash, but spaghetti squash is one squash that I've just never loved. I've tried it many times and it's always just been OK to me. We always end up with some because my father-in-law always grows them. So, as I've been looking and looking at this spaghetti squash sitting in my squash basket, I decided to try it draped and covered in cheese. Well, guess what? I finally found a way to eat spaghetti squash that is quite yummy (no shock there as anything gratin is yummy). So if you have been looking for a way to use those spaghetti squash, given this a try. We ate this as a main dish with a salad and some crusty bread, but it's probably best as a side dish. 

Spaghetti squash gratin
1 spaghetti squash, halved with seeds and strings scraped out
extra virgin olive oil
1 tablespoon butter
1 shallot, minced (or onion)
1 clove garlic, minced
2 teaspoons fresh thyme leaves
1/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes
1 tablespoon flour
1 cup milk or half and half
1/2 - 3/4 cup Parmesan cheese, plus more for topping
sea salt and fresh cracked black pepper to taste
fresh parsley, minced (optional)

Pre-heat the oven to 400 degrees. Drizzle a baking sheet with some olive oil and place the spaghetti squash cut side down on the baking sheet. Roast the squash until tender, about 30 minutes. Remove from the oven and set aside for a few minutes to cool.

While the squash is roasting, make the sauce. In a large saucepan, warm the butter. Add the shallot, garlic, and red pepper flakes. Saute until the shallots are soft and translucent. Sprinkle in the flour and stir. Cook for about two minutes. Then add the milk and thyme and whisk. Continue to cook over medium heat, whisking often. Once the sauce thickens, add some salt and pepper and then the Parmesan cheese. Whisk the cheese in until melted and then remove from heat. Taste for salt and pepper.

Using a fork, scrape out the spaghetti squash strands and add them into the pot with the sauce. Once all the squash is in the pot, give it a gentle stir over medium heat so that all the squash is coated and the mixture remains hot. Pour the squash into a baking dish that has been sprayed with cooking spray or rubbed with some olive oil or butter. Spread the squash out evenly and top with a bunch more Parmesan cheese. Put the squash under the broiler until the cheese turns golden. Alternatively, you can place it back in the oven and bake until the cheese turns golden. Top with fresh parsley, if desired.

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