Wednesday, October 1, 2014

Fall is in the Air and Squash is at the Markets!

I'm always a little sad to see summer end.  But then I start to think about all the great fall experiences, like watching the leaves change color and blow about in the wind, pulling out cozy sweaters for the first cool weather, and warm, hearty fall cooking.

I love the autumn squashes which are starting to turn up at our local markets about now.  These are harvested in fall, but store very well in a cool place, so you'll see them for sale throughout winter and early spring.

One of my favorite squashes is the spaghetti squash.  It has a delicious sweet flavor and I love to use it as if it were pasta, with fabulous rich toppings that take it from ordinary veggie to sublime experience.

When selecting a spaghetti squash, look for one without spots on the exterior and select the one that seems the heaviest for its size.  There's a little trick to cooking it properly and it all has to do with the timing.  If you over-cook spaghetti squash, you get mush.  If you want the spaghetti-like strands, you need to cook it for the right length of time and no more.  It's easy once you get the hang of it.

For a quick to prepare but knock-your-socks off dish, try the recipe below for Spaghetti Squash with Shiitake Mushrooms.

Fresh shiitake mushrooms from my local Farmer's Market.
As always in a simple recipe, it's all about the quality of the ingredients.  Buy the best you can afford.  I used a beautiful fresh box of shiitake mushrooms from the mushroom grower at my local Farmer's Market.  Also, I used organic grass fed butter.  Grass fed butter is an excellent source of omega-3s that help fight inflammation within the body.  You can eat it guilt-free.  It also tastes fabulous.

I used this torpedo onion from my local farmer's market.  

I also had a gorgeous torpedo onion from my Farmer's Market, but you can easily substitute fresh shallots.  The taste is very similar.

Spaghetti Squash with Shiitake Mushrooms

1 spaghetti squash
1/4 cup torpedo onion or shallots finely chopped.
1 garlic clove minced
1 large box of shiitake mushrooms sliced
3 T organic grass-fed butter
3 T olive oil
fresh thyme or 1/2 t dried thyme
pink Himalayan sea salt or other sea salt fresh ground
freshly ground black pepper

Cut the squash in half and place the two halves inside down on a baking sheet.  Roast the spaghetti squash at 400 degrees for 50 minutes.  Check for doneness.  The flesh should spoon away from the sides of the walls in spaghetti-like strands.

In a sauce pan over medium high heat, add the olive oil and saute the onion or shallots until slightly translucent, stirring and watching closely.  Add the shiitake mushrooms and garlic and keep cooking until mushrooms are softened and tender.  Add in the butter, thyme, and salt and pepper to taste and cook until the moment that the butter has just melted.  Remove from heat immediately.  To create a serving for one, spoon  a cup of hot roasted spaghetti squash into a bowl or plate and top with a generous portion of mushroom mixture.  Make sure that there is plenty of butter and oil to soak down into the squash just as you would with pasta.

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