Spaghetti Squash

If it’s wintertime, it must be another squash recipe.

This is another one to bake the squash ahead for.  It’s so much easier to do that.  Then you don’t have to manhandle a searing steamy squash and inevitably burn yourself.  So bake that thing ahead of time and pop it in the fridge.

Michael has never been hot on plain spaghetti squash, though I love it, but I think this started to change his mind a little.  The addition of cheese to just about anything is helpful.  We had this with a quick tomato sauce made by Michael with Muir Glen tomatoes and onion, garlic, oregano, hot pepper, and parsley, and white beans with olive oil, lemon juice, and parsley.

A smallish spaghetti squash will make about three servings; a big one four to six.

1 spaghetti squash
olive oil
1 1/2 c. grated Dry Jack cheese
1/2 c. minced parsley
salt and pepper to taste

Bake that squash whole in a baking pan or on a baking sheet for about an hour at 375 degrees, or until tender, turning once.  This might take up to an hour and a half.  Place in the fridge and refrigerate until needed.

Preheat the oven to 350.  Cut the baked squash in half lengthwise and scoop out the seeds with your hands.  Trust me, it works better than a spoon on a spaghetti squash.  Set them aside.  Hold a squash half over a large oven-safe bowl and, using a fork, gently scrape the strands out of the squash and into the bowl.  Repeat with the other half. 

Drizzle the squash generously with olive oil (a few tablespoons), sprinkle with the cheese and parsley, and season with salt and pepper.  Using two forks, gently toss the added ingredients with the squash until combined.  Place in the oven and bake about 40 minutes, until browned around the edges and hot through.

Celery & Onion Saute with Lentils

Lentils are, seriously, the vegetarian equivalent of ground beef. Not in that they are a vector for foodborne illness, but that they are fast, filling, and easy to work with. This I threw together between arriving home from work and a 7:30 concert on Friday night. We had it over whole-wheat penne. The concert was Robin & Linda Williams and Their Fine Group – and they were terrific.

olive oil for the pan
1 large onion, cut in slivers
1 bunch celery (yep, I love celery) cut in julienne (thin little sticks – cut the biggest stalks in five or six pieces lengthwise, then cut in 2 to 3 in. lengths
salt and pepper
1 1/2 c. black or green lentils (Puy lentils)

Heat olive oil in a large nonstick pan over very high medium-high heat. When it is hot, in with the onions. Sauté them for a few minutes, until they begin to wilt just a little, then add the celery. Increase the heat to pretty darn high, and stir-fry, basically, until the moisture from the celery and onions has largely evaporated and they’ve picked up some nice brown spots. This will probably take 15-20 minutes. Season with salt and pepper to taste.

I cooked my lentils in salted water in the pressure cooker for 5 minutes, then removed them from the heat and allowed the pressure to drop by itself. I started them as I was starting to chop, and they were ready to be opened by the time the celery was done. Drain the lentils and season with salt (if necessary) and pepper, plus a good slug of olive oil.

To serve, place pasta on each plate, top with lentils, then the celery.