Saturday, November 9, 2013

Spaghetti Squash with Anytime Fresh Tomato Sauce

The bowl on our early November table has two pale tomatoes waiting to turn into something resembling summer tomatoes. The farm markets continue to offer beautiful cool weather greens and winter squash in every variety. So the dinner plan formed around a round lovely spaghetti squash, and my husband suggested that a fresh tomato sauce would be lovely. "Fresh tomato sauce?" I thought looking at him sideways.  Then I remembered my strategy at summer's end -- I had thrown piles of ripe plum tomatoes into plastic freezer bags and plopped them into the freezer. I use these in soups and chili and they taste as fresh as summer. As soon as the cold tomato hits the heat of the broth or whatever, the peelings pop right off, leaving just the succulence of the tomato. Of course they turn to mush -- but isn't that what we want in a sauce? So this evolved into another instant favorite -- sweet spaghetti squash well saturated with fresh tomato, garlic, slivered kale leaves and herbes de Provence. Oooh la la! This is a beautiful dish that takes less than an hour to make fresh.


1 medium large spaghetti squash
6-10 cloves fresh garlic roughly chopped
8 or so fresh-frozen plum tomatoes (you could use a can I suppose)
5-8 medium kale leaves, destemmed
1/2-3/4 c water
1/2 - 1 tsp salt (your taste...)
1 TBLSP herbes de Provence
Freshly ground pepper
Sesame seed gomasio (if you want to imitate a finishing sprinkle on top)

Heat the oven to 350F. Cut the spaghetti squash in half length-wise (from stem to end). Open the squash and scrape out the seeds and seed goop with a large strong tablespoon. Place the squash halves on a baking sheet covered with tin foil and leave in the oven for about 30 minutes, or until you can press into the peeling side and it feels soft.  This is just the right amount of time for making the sauce.

Plop the frozen tomatoes into a sauce/stew pot with roughly chopped garlic and the water and salt. You can start with less salt and always add more as it simmers, or on the table.  Cover and heat a few minutes, turning the tomatoes once or twice so that you can pick up each tomato and squeeze off the peelings. Then add the kale, cut into slivers. I wad the leaves up on a cutting board and cut thin slices through the wadded leaves. This is not a precise science. Stir in the kale with the herbes de Provence, a bit more salt, and let this simmer covered for at least half an hour.

When the sauce has simmered for at least 15-20 minutes, take the squash halves out of the oven, turn them over carefully. Let them cool a little (5 minutes at least), then hold one half in one hand with a well protected hand (using an oven mit is a good technique), while scraping out the squash flesh into a large bowl. Break up the squash flesh into its spaghetti like strands with a fork. Do both halves.

Pour the sauce over the squash in the bowl and serve. People can fish down into the bowl to pull the squash out, with the beautiful layer of sauce all over the top (and the juiciest part of the sauce filtering down into the bowl through the squash).  Serve with a choice of fresh pepper grinder, sea salt, and sesame seed gomasio as possible at-table finishing touches.

Note: You can roast these squash seeds if you like. Clean off the debris, rinse them, sprinkle them with Tamari, layer them on a baking sheet and let them crisp up, turning with a spatula at least once in about 15 minutes.

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