Monday, September 28, 2009

Very Distant Cousin of Spaghetti and Meatballs...

I have heard about the wonders of the spaghetti squash for years, but until tonight I'd never tried it myself. I have to say, it really should be called the angel-hair squash or the vermicelli squash...

While the squash was baking (45 min at 350*, split in half lengthwise, hole-poked), I made a winter (cilantro) pesto and browned some tempeh with onions and cumin. The lemony tastes of the cilantro and lemon in the pesto, and the cumin in the tempeh, are offset nicely by the meatier, yangy flavors of the nuts in the pesto and the tempeh itself. While I get the feeling that spaghetti squash is often valued mostly for its novelty and/or its "low carb!" nature, I think it actually works better in this recipe than normal pasta: it was lighter and slightly crunchy, which balanced out the tempeh in a way that pasta wouldn't.

This first-attempt recipe worked really well, except the proportions were all off. I wound up with 4-6 servings of squash and of tempeh, and about half as much pesto. On the other hand, the pesto is really strong, so you don't need much.

Spaghetti Squash with Blackened Cumin Tempeh and Cilantro-Lemon Pesto

Cilantro-Lemon Pesto

Serves 4
1/4-1/3 cup pine nuts, almonds, or pistachios*
1-2 cloves garlic, coarsely chopped
1 large bunch of cilantro leaves (stems removed), coarsely chopped
1-2 TB lemon juice
2 TB olive oil
salt to taste

*Pine nuts are outrageously expensive. Unless someone gives them to me, I always use almonds or pistachios instead.

Instructions: In a food processor, grind nuts and garlic. Add cilantro and pulse until pureed. Add lemon juice and olive oil until smooth. Add salt to taste (continue blending).
Note: For a milder pesto, use more nuts.

Blackened Cumin Tempeh
Serves 4
canola oil
1/4 onion, diced
1 tsp cumin seeds
1 block tempeh (Trader Joe's has started selling an organic multigrain tempeh for $1.69!), cut into small slabs.

In a cast iron frying pan, brown the onions and cumin (5 min). Deglaze with tamari (and extra water). Add tempeh and cook on medium-low heat until browned, turning over.


myer nore said...
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myer nore said...

Nice! I have to say, I've never seen a spaghetti-looking substance made from spaghetti squash before - did you grate it? A and I are SO in love with the trader joe's tempeh you mentioned; it's unbelievably flavorful, and you get a lot of tempeh for so little cash. Our local store ran out for a bit, and we were worried that somehow, the dream had come to an end. Luckily, they're back - and we've been buying them in twos and threes.

Pine nut prices are such a shame. At deep springs, we'd send a team of singing boys up into the ancient bristlecone pine forest to harvest them. We'd shell them during student body meetings and the cooks would roast them. We actually had enough to eat them by the handful, like peanuts. One time, I even made a gnutella-like butter out of ground pine nuts. Another time, there was too much basil in the garden as the season was ending. It was going to go to waste, so for two afternoons straight I made pesto with the local garlic and pine nuts for two afternoons straight. There was over a gallon. We froze it in little batches for the winter.

I'd probably roast the cumin seeds in the pan before the oil and the onions, reserve half, grind them, and sprinkle them on the tempeh during the deglaze. Freshly roasted and ground cumin has a special flavor ...

Julia said...

Myer, I totally agree about the cumin. I just need to suck it up and buy a second grinder, because the thought of cleaning my coffee grinder in order to grind some seeds usually puts me off doing it.