Saturday, July 23, 2011

Spaghetti Squash with Ricotta, Fried Sage Leaves & Toasted Pine Nuts

With the heat index reaching 115 yesterday and nearly as night today, the heat wave rages on in Philly and across much of the eastern United States. I will admit that last night we ordered out - vegetarian Stromboli, yum! and yes, we tipped well for the trouble - so tonight I was determined to actually cook something. That is, as long as this "cooking" did not involve my oven, and bonus points if it didn't involve the stove either. Since the sage leaves fry up super fast, I consider this a success. In a perfect (late autumn) world I would cook the squash in the oven until perfectly tender. But that wasn't happening today. I know some chefs like to hate on the microwave, but I think it's a fantastic invention. Tonight it saved me from 1) Chinese takeout and 2) certain death by apartment-overheating.
This recipe is from Serious Eats. I upped the sage slightly, but you can definitely stick to the original 6-8 leaves if you want to:

1 small spaghetti squash, about 2 lbs
6-10 fresh sage leaves
1 clove garlic, mashed
1/4 cup pine nuts, toasted
3/4 cup part-skim ricotta cheese
Salt and pepper
Olive oil

1. If you are microwaving your squash, cut it in half lengthwise. Place cut-side-down in a microwave safe dish, and add an inch or two of water, or enough to "seal" the opening of the squash. Microwave on high for about 10-12 minutes or until the squash is softened and its flesh can easily be combed out with a fork.
2. While the squash is cooking, pour a little olive oil in a frying pan and fry the save leaves until crispy, but not brown. When done, crumble them into a large bowl, adding the ricotta, garlic, and salt and pepper to taste.
3. When the squash is done, comb flesh into the large bowl. Combine with cheese and sage leaves, transfer to plate or serving platter, and top with toasted pine nuts. I also drizzled a little extra olive oil over it just before serving.

Cook's Note: For more info on toasting nuts, check out my post on pesto-making.
Super simple spinach salad makes a great complement to this dish.
Truthfully, Brady didn't care for this, and I can't really understand why. But like with most things, it all comes down to taste. To me it was a bold, delicious combination of flavors, perfectly just-rich-enough and not too heavy.

Obviously this dish would make more sense in true squash season (I'm a few months ahead of the curve, yadda yadda) but I'm getting just the tiniest bit tired of salads, aren't you?

Quote of the Day: You know, when you get your first asparagus, or your first acorn squash, or your first really good tomato of the season, those are the moments that define the cook's year. I get more excited by that than anything else. ~ Mario Batali

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