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!