Regan Daley's Poached Quince with Vanilla and Cinnamon
Paula Wolfert's Madeleines from Dax

Spaghetti Squash Gratin


Spaghetti: is there a more perfect food? I think not. So when it gets bandied about in certain food circles that spaghetti squash is a good, calorie-conscious substitute for those chewy strands made from durum flour, it makes my hackles rise. There's nothing wrong with a little pasta, people. In fact, I'd venture to say that a nice plate of spaghetti (whole wheat, if you like!) with a good, homemade tomato sauce and some gratings of cheese on top is a whole lot healthier and tastier than any low-carb concoction being whipped up by cooks of questionable talent. But this is hardly blogworthy news (at least I hope it's not).

What is worth talking about is the lovely vegetal wonder that is spaghetti squash. This smooth, melon-colored squash has stringy flesh that separates into little strands when cooked (hence its name). It's wholly different from the melting, orange flesh of butternut or acorn squashes, so easily transformed into velvety soups or creamy pie fillings. My way of preparing spaghetti squash is totally delicious and very healthy as well, not to mention easy as pie. And just to spite the low-carb brigade, I serve this with roasted potatoes.

Spaghetti Squash Gratin

1. Take a 3-pound spaghetti squash and put it in a stockpot, covering it with water. Bring the water to a boil, then simmer with the top on, for 20 to 30 minutes or until the squash is tender. Remove the squash from the pot with tongs, and slice it lengthwise. Let the halves cool until you can handle the flesh with your bare fingers. Remove the seeds and discard. Using a fork, scoop out the strands and transfer them to a bowl, until the shells are empty.

2. To the squash strands add 6 or 7 heaping spoonfuls of diced, canned tomatoes. Add the freshly stripped leaves of several thyme branches, 2 small diced garlic cloves, freshly ground pepper and some salt. Mix this all together and spoon into a gratin dish. Cover the squash mixture with shavings of Parmigiano.

3. Slide the dish into an oven that's been preheated to 450 degrees Fahrenheit and let it bubble away for half an hour, or until the top has browned nicely. This serves 2 people as a side dish.