I made spaghetti squash last night. I’ve been wanting to make it ever since the first cool day of the year, but since we have this CSA and since we go to the market every week and since these things make us very aware of how food grows seasonally here, I wasn’t able to buy one until just recently. Last Sunday, actually, the day when Courtney was out of town and I had to go to the market by myself and I forgot my secondary grocery bag so I had to walk around like a Sherpa with my backpack full of all kinds of heavy things.
And then I got the spaghetti squash but I had no room for it, so I just sort of walked around with it cradled in the crook of my arm like a baby. My squash baby. This is the most maternal I will ever be, and you can blame it on the season because with all of these roots and tubers around (MOAR POTATOES), I am most in my element.
After a lifetime of hating squash, I decided to make an effort to like it one year when a friend made butternut squash for Thanksgiving (this is the friend who also made me start liking Brussels sprouts, btw). Then I used it to make pizzas for another friend’s Thanksgiving and got an offer of a blowjob for the recipe, and this plus the Brussels sprouts incident made me realize that I probably did like a lot of the stuff I thought I hated, I just had to find better ways to make them. So I did, then I called my parents and told them they’d been doing it wrong the whole time.
So I like squash now, which is convenient because the market is full of them. Spaghetti squash is something I never would have liked as a kid because if you’re going to make spaghetti, why don’t you just make actual spaghetti? But it’s delicious now, and I make mine with a sort of super meaty Bolognese sauce and if I ever had any doubts about it being decent, I could just watch Courtney – who is about the size of my thumb, if you were wondering – scrape the squash clean.
After we shared one half of the spaghetti squash (and ¼ of a squash each was still an enormous portion), we met Luke and Rod at a bar and Courtney said the thing she always says that makes my heart leap, which is that I should get together with Rachel and Josh and we should rent a kitchen and do a supper club, which is only my whole life’s dream even though there’s no way I could pull it off, probably. Especially in a city with no dearth of supper clubs.
Or, you know, I could find someone who needs a personal chef but doesn’t really care about the minutiae of nutrition. I mean, I can make you something that tastes good and is good for you, I just can’t prove it because I’m not a psychopath who counts every calorie, carb, and gram of protein that goes into my body. Unfortunately, no one who can afford or wants to employ a personal chef is interested in my methods, probably because they can also afford and want to employ personal trainers and shoppers and other people who make them feel thin and powerful. No one seems to think that casseroles fit into that lifestyle, which is a shame.
So that’s the dream and the reasons I won’t achieve it, but here’s how to make a really nice spaghetti squash. And if anyone in Seattle would like me to make this kind of thing for them semi-regularly, please don’t be afraid to let me know and we can discuss a living wage.
Spaghetti Squash with Meat Sauce
1 spaghetti squash, cut in half lengthwise with the seeds scooped out (see below for actual instructions on how to do this, which sounds dumb but it’s a lot harder than you think)
1 lb. Italian sausage
1 lb. ground beef (the fattier the better in my opinion, but whatever)
1 red onion, diced
2 bell peppers or 3 smaller sweet peppers (I used red Gypsy), diced
6+ cloves garlic, minced
2 small beets, peeled and diced (optional, I just had some in the house)
1 16oz can whole peeled tomatoes, like San Marzano or Muir Glen
2 heaping tbs. tomato paste
½ tsp anchovy paste (optional)
1 cup dry red wine
2 tbs. fresh parsley, chopped
1 tbs. fresh oregano, chopped
1 heaping tbs. of dried Italian seasoning (bonus if you’re from St. Louis and can get the Viviano’s blend)
½ tsp crushed red pepper flakes
Basil, chopped for garnish
½ cup grated Parmesan cheese
1 cup shredded mozzarella cheese
Preheat oven to 405.
To slice the squash lengthwise, first cut off the stem at the top. I used a heavy cleaver for the next part, so god bless Crossley for bringing one back from Vietnam. I don’t know how I once did this with a regular knife, but it’s really hard. Working slowly so as not to amputate anything, cut down the middle of the squash until you have two equal halves. Then slice a thin piece from the skin side of each half, really just so that each half will sit still on your baking sheet. When scooping the seeds, be careful not to scoop too much of the actual flesh. Place the halves cut-sides-up on a baking sheet, drizzle with olive oil and salt and pepper. Set aside.
In a stockpot over medium-high heat, just brown the sausage and ground beef through (separately, you don’t want it to steam) and set aside. Using the fat plus a little olive oil if necessary, add the onions, peppers, and beets (if you used them), adding salt and pepper after about three minutes. Stir regularly for 7-10 minutes, then add the garlic, parsley, oregano, and spices and stir/cook for another three minutes.
Add wine and stir to deglaze, then reduce heat to medium. Cook/stir regularly until winey smell is mostly gone and mixture has begun to reduce a bit.
Add the tomatoes by taking each one out of the can and crushing it in your fist before dropping it into the pot. Pretty fucking metal, right? Also add the juice from the can.
Add tomato paste and anchovy paste (if you’re using it), plus a little liquid like stock or water if you want. Hardly any. Like 1/2 of a coffee mug’s worth. I prefer a thick, almost velvety sauce, though, and I find that cooking the above ingredients will usually render just enough liquid. Partially cover and allow to cook until bubbles form on the surface, then reduce the heat to low and add meat. Stir to combine, allow to sit partially covered on heat. Stir occasionally.
Put baking sheet with squash in the oven and cook for about 35 minutes. When the flesh side is tender, remove it from the oven and start scraping it with a fork. This will shred into the spaghetti-like strands. Add the Parmesan cheese and combine with a fork. Leave the strands inside each side of the squash.
Using a large spoon, scoop the meat sauce into/on top of each side of the squash. Don’t overflow too much, you’re already making a shitload of food and can always save or freeze the leftover sauce for later. Cover each side with mozzarella cheese and return to oven until cheese is melty and beginning to brown.
Add chopped basil just before serving. Like I said, ¼ of the squash is more than enough for one person.