Tomato-Basil Spaghetti Squash with Parmesan Cheese
For several years we had a garden. What began as one small row grew into eight or so rather large raised beds and thirty plus varieties of heirloom tomatoes My husband wanted okra; I wanted fresh herbs and lettuces. We both wanted something far beyond tasteless immitations of those. We harvested and then harvested some more with each new summer. Mostly it was a joy. It is true that everything tastes better when it is freshly harvested and prepared. The corn is sweeter; the tomatoes more intense in hue, aroma and taste – the luxury of gourmet lettuces and greens. Ahhh. I never much cared for the weeds though. The squirrels, groundhogs and rabbits didn’t like those as much as they relished the lettuces either unfortunately. (I have a groundhog story that I will share, but that’s for another time.) I even tried growing some rather exotic items – morel mushrooms – watercress. Earthworms became my friends. Their poop became pure gardening gold. (I highly recommend the effort to grow your own earthworms if you are so inclined. It’s amazing what they can do to garbage!) At this point you might be wondering what this has to do with this recipe. One day when I went down to work in the “fields” I noticed a strange vine growing much like Japanese kudzu along an abandoned railroad track. It had meandered through three or four tomato cages and was rapidly making an ascent up the morning glory trellis. Since we are a pretty adventuresome couple, we decided to let it be while we took off for a few days assuming that the resident groundhog would have it for lunch anyway. Our reward upon returning home was something akin to a watermelon, only it was pale yellow – almost white- and had a skin the thickness of a knight’s armor. Our first spaghetti squash! I wanted to send out birth announcements but my husband urged restraint. The questioned remained as to when it was to be picked. We read; we researched. Googling became our passion. In the end, we reaped enough spaghetti squash to feed the proverbial Cox’s Army (or Coxey depending upon your grandmother). So if you are ever in need of a recipe for spaghetti squash, I’m sure I have you covered. Try this one; it’s delicious.
1 medium spaghetti squash (2-1/2 to 3 pounds)
2 large tomatoes, seeded and chopped
1/2 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese
1/4 cup butter, melted
1/4 cup basil cut into thin strips, plus 3 or 4 leaves for garnish (Grow your own – it’s super easy to do.)
salt and pepper
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Prick the squash all over with a paring knife. Place in a baking dish and bake 1 hour, or until soft. Cut the squash in half. Scoop out and discard the seeds. Use a fork to scrape the flesh in strings into a serving bowl. Add the tomatoes and Parmesan cheese, and drizzle with the melted butter. Toss to combine. Add the basil, and salt and pepper to taste. Toss gently. Garnish with the basil leaves.
Yield: About 6 servings.
This makes a great side dish for just about any grilled meat.