Winter squash can be intimidating. They’re husky. Some are practically planetary. Winter squash demands strength and skill from the cook who cuts through its tough exterior, but those minutes of aggressive slicing are rewarded when the squash tumbles open and exposes a fleshy, lustrous interior. This is so with spaghetti squash. I love winter squash of all varieties, but I’m not always up for the slicing and cutting job. Thank goodness I’m usually up for dealing with spaghetti squash. Once the slicing ordeal is done, it’s a matter of baking the squash in its husk then scraping and scooping out the insides for mixing with a flavorful sauce.
And speaking of flavor, “Brandywine” heirloom tomatoes have it. Big time. All the tomatoes in my garden that haven’t split open on the vine will go in the pot for sauce. The tomatoes aren’t pretty at this point in the season. Some are grotesque, but they make a beautiful sauce. This sauce is simply seasoned, needing only salt, pepper, and a few sprigs of fresh oregano. I tried a new product, “Basil Pesto Grape Seed Oil,” which I bought at the oyster festival last weekend. This oil delivered the flavor boost, although subtle, that I wanted in the dish. If you don’t have homegrown tomatoes available, look for heirloom tomatoes for sale by local green grocers or at Whole Foods.
Recipe: Organic Spaghetti Squash with Heirloom Tomato Sauce (Serves 4)
1 medium, organic spaghetti squash
3 tablespoons basil flavored grape seed or olive oil (reserve one tablespoon for sauteing onions)
Heirloom Tomato Sauce:
3 large heirloom tomatoes, such as the Brandywine variety
1/2 teaspoon salt
Cracked pepper to taste
2 sprigs fresh oregano
2 ounces parmesan cheese
- Split squash in half, carefully, with a sharp knife.
- Scoop out seeds and discard them.
- Rub or brush 1 tablespoon of oil in each squash cavity, including the rims.
- Place squash halves on cookie sheet.
- Bake at 350 degrees for 40-45 minutes until tender; allow squash to cool before handling.
- Scrape the cooked squash from the shell and into a large bowl and separate large clumps of squash apart with a fork. Set aside.
Heirloom Tomato Sauce
- Parboil tomatoes for 5 minutes or until you see the tomato skins begin to wrinkle.
- Stop the cooking by removing each tomato from the boil with a slotted spoon and placing each in a bowl of ice water.
- When they are cool enough to handle, hand peel each tomato and place on a clean cutting board.
- Chop the tomatoes roughly; reserve as much of the tomato juice as possible for the sauce. Discard tomato skins and stems.
- Add salt, pepper, and oregano sprigs and simmer tomatoes on low heat for 20 minutes.
- Remove oregano sprigs after sauce has simmered.
Putting the Dish Together
- Set the oven to 350 degrees and spray a 9-inch baking dish with non-stick spray.
- Pour tomato sauce into bowl containing squash and blend both thoroughly with a silicon spatula.
- Transfer squash and tomato sauce to baking dish.
- Top with shredded cheese and bake uncovered for 30 minutes.
- Add additional parmesan cheese at the table if desired.