Yeah… Spaghetti squash wasn’t a hit with The Boy. At least he tried it, though, which is an improvement over the last 2 years or so.
He even tried Brussels sprouts this week. Well, not exactly the sprouts. You see, Brussels sprouts grow on a tall stalk with leaves coming out in a circular fashion, and the sprouts grow right above the stem of the leaf. As Dad (Farmer Sonny) puts it, a little cabbage grows out of each crotch. Not so appetizing when you put it THAT way, right?
Anyway, I did have a point. The top of the brussels sprouts stalk is simply a bunch of leaves arranged in a circular fashion. Best case scenario, we cut the tops off of all the stalks and the plant sends its energy into producing more and bigger sprouts rather than going to seed. This is exactly why we cut garlic scapes off of the garlic stalks – to get a bulkier garlic head.
Dad insisted that those tops would be delicious and tender, like collard greens, only better! So on our ride around the farm, he and Thomas picked several tops to take home and cook.
Papa shredded the leaves with his knife (a lovely chiffonade) and tossed them in a bowl of water to rinse. Meanwhile, he had some diced bacon (SURPRISE!) cooking in a skillet. Once crispy, the bacon should be removed and much of the grease should be left in the pan – take it all out and add just what you want to fry in if you prefer. Pull the sprout leaves out of the water, letting them drain, then add them to the pan. Sprinkle with salt and pepper, then cover and let them cook over medium heat for about 5-7 minutes. Remove the lid, then continue to saute in the bacon grease until they are as tender as you like. Serve with the crispy bacon sprinkled atop.
Now, mind you, we had them leftover and the bacon was no longer crispy (soft meat is always a turn-off). In Dad’s defense, I liked the flavor of the greens. You can cook the sprouts the same way, with the bacon grease and such, and collard greens or kale or even cabbage, and they’d be deliciously Southern and sinful. One of my customers told me that’s just how she does her Brussels sprouts, and then she stirs in some grated horseradish for kick. I bet that would be great… if I liked Brussels sprouts.
This past weekend we had our first CSA distribution in Ringwood and on the farm. Spaghetti squash was amongst the items in the share and I just KNOW people are afraid of it. So I included a recipe (Baked Spaghetti Squash with Gruyere and Parsley) borrowed from Deborah Madison’s Vegetarian Cooking for Everyone. If you don’t have this book, YOU. MUST. GET. IT. It’s my go-to source when I’m looking for some veggie or grain inspiration, and she has just as many simple recipes as she does complicated ones.
Since spinach and garlic are also in the shares this week, I thought I’d give out this interesting and quick-to-prepare spaghetti squash recipe. I did NOT do it on this occasion, because someone who emerged from my loins six and a half years ago doesn’t particularly care for nuts [and trust me, no pb & j for this non-meat eater really frigs up school-lunch preparations], but I believe a handful of pan-toasted walnuts would be wonderful atop this dish. I think it needed a bit of crunch and that would complement the flavors as well. Give it a shot and let me know what you think!
Popeye Pasketti (Squash)
(amounts of ingredients will vary depending upon the size of your squash. A medium-sized squash should feed about 3-4 people.)
1 spaghetti squash, cooked**
several cloves or garlic, minced
spinach, about 1/4-1/3 lb per person
1/4 cup ricotta per person
grated parmesan cheese – fresh, not from a can
salt and pepper, hot pepper flakes are good too!
handful of walnut pieces, toasted in a dry skillet
**Spaghetti Squash can be cooked whole or halved either in the microwave, the oven, or in the crockpot!
To cook whole: puncture squash in several places so it doesn’t explode, then put into micro-safe or oven-safe dish, steamer basket, or crockpot and let ‘er rip! Microwave: about 7 minutes per pound, then let rest for 10 min. Oven: 375-degrees for about an hour. Crockpot: 6-8 hours on Low. When squash is soft, split and remove seeds (if you didn’t already), then scrape strands of ‘spaghetti’ out of shells with a fork.