Spaghetti Squash (Not a) Carbonara

Tuesday, September 19, 2006
Few people get really excited about eating squash, but spaghetti, butternut, acorn, and kabocha squash are amazingly good when fresh. Baking and eating them simply with butter, salt, and pepper is one of the great things about autumn.

Though Italy is not a place I visit often, culinarily speaking, I love a carbonara. I love how the eggs are cooked into a sauce simply by being stirred into sloppy wet, freshly cooked pasta and how they absorb and amplify the bacon and cheese. This was going to be a carbonara, but the deli-end capicolli I was planning to use had lost its freshness so I used dried shrimp instead. Tiny dried shrimp are similar in colour, texture, and salty intensity of flavour to bacon bits but of course make a completely different effect. I added chopped peppers because I had them on hand; I probably would have left them out of the carbonara.

For this squash version of spaghetti (not a) carbonara, the sauce is cooked separately before being combined with the squash, which is too delicate to endure the energetic tossing that you would do with pasta. You can very easily overcook the sauce so that it is full of stiff pieces of egg, or overcook the squash into a lump that does not separate into spaghetti. If this happens and you are worried about presentation, just mix everything together into a casserole topped with more cheese and bake til the cheese is golden. I have a feeling many baked pasta dishes originated this way.

Put half a spaghetti squash cut side down on an oiled baking sheet and bake in a medium oven until just tender and you can separate the flesh into strands with a fork. This will take about forty minutes; start checking it after half an hour. Meanwhile, mince one pepper and two cloves of garlic to about the same size as the shrimp you are using, and cook in a little bit of oil with one and a half tablespoons of tiny dried shrimp. (For carbonara, just finely dice two strips of bacon and cook it without any oil.) When vegetables are tender lower heat and slowly stir two eggs into this mixture, scraping bottom of pan frequently, until the eggs are very smooth and thick. Carefully stir in strands of squash and one and a half tablespoons of grated parmesan until coated. Add salt and fresh ground pepper to taste and serve to one person who has been running around without eating all day or two people with some really good bread and butter.


Sara said...

mmmmm sounds good. i like spaghetti squash but i've only ever had it with butter or tomato sauce.

Mimi said...

rjxsfThe mark of a good cook is being able to improvise and it looks like you've done it.i

Pepper said...

Hi Sara, I had the other half of the squash today just with garlic butter and big crystals of salt and it was just as good.

Hi Mimi, thanks for stopping by. I am very envious of your upcoming trip!

Carbonarically Challeged said...

I have tried this a few times, both the noodle and the squash version, and both times the egg just separates out. Still delicious, but without the anticipated creaminess, no matter how much cheese I add. Any suggestions?

Pepper said...

Hey carbonic, you are using too much heat too fast. Try taking the noodles out of the pot before stiring in the eggs, and just add them back if they don't cook. Can also use a double boiler.