Thursday, March 6, 2008

I eat my words

I'm ashamed. Yes, I think the above photo looks pretty gorgeous—but it's a lie. It depicts spaghetti squash, a totally appropriate weird vegetable suggested by my friend Kathryn way back in December. She had one sitting on her kitchen table and asked me what to do with it. I replied (as had been my practice for many years, after reading a sly, anorexia-encouraging article in Seventeen), "Don't you just roast it in the oven, scoop it out, and eat the strands like noodles? I think you can eat it with tomato sauce, or just butter and parmesan."

Ah, so foolish. I was all ready to believe in a vegetable versatile enough to supplant a processed food product, but then I recently practiced what I'd been ignorantly preaching. I cut the yellow ovoid in half, scooped out the seeds, and stuck it in the oven at 375. After 40 minutes, I tested it by prodding the pale orange flesh with the backside of a fork. I actually whispered "whoa" when the squash started to feather into pasta-like pieces, but it felt too starchy to be done. So l let it roast for 20 minutes more, and, after it had cooled off, scooped all the innards out of the skin and into a bowl. I assumed it'd need salt, but I was unprepared for the dull, watery, yet markedly bitter taste imparted by the wormies on my first bite.

Terrified (I call myself a veg wizard—there must be something I can do!), I dumped the capellini-looking pile into a saute pan, where I'd already browned some butter, hoping that sweet nuttiness might counteract the back-of-tongue bite. I stirred and swished and added salt, then herbs de provence, assuming that, as with zucchini, I could cook the bitterness away along with the excess water. When it smelled fabulous and looked drier, I grated in a heap of parmigiano before re-tasting.

Better, but still bitter. Weird in the wrong way. I forced down a few bites and stuck it in the fridge, hoping it might mellow overnight. The photo depicts a reheated serving, showered again with cheese and topped with sage leaves fried in more brown butter. I'm straying from my personal philosophy here: add enough butter and cheese and anything will taste good, but that's not cooking. This spaghetti squash is edible, but not delicious. I don't believe that's always the case... Help!


Christine said...

Hm, maybe you had a bad squash? My mom cuts it in half, and bakes it in the oven after brushing some garlic olive oil on it and salting and peppering. She bakes it rind side up til the strands are very soft, and give completely when stabbed with a fork (I think 40 some minutes)? Great with ragu and some fresh parmesan.

Jeremy said...

Yes, I think you got a bad squash. I've gotten a couple of them in the past week. I don't know if they're not quite ripe, or what. And I don't know how to tell if one is ripe or not. But no, they don't always have that bitterness.

I've left approximately 3 blog comments in my life. I can't believe that one of them is about spaghetti squash.