Food Buzz

Because maybe you do care what I had for lunch...

Monday, September 26, 2005

Baked spaghetti squash with bacon lentils

Spaghetti squash with pecorino and bread crumb topping; lentils cooked with bacon and served with smoked mozzarella

Squashes arrived in the Coop about the same time as the first few cool days of autumn. This pleases me greatly. And now that my oven is working again I have much reason to rejoice.

Spaghetti squash is one of the first squashes a kid learns to like on account of its mild flavor and fun, stringy quality. I sliced a squash lengthwise, brushed with olive oil, salted and peppered, and then baked it at 375 for about 20 minutes or so, until it was soft-ish. Then I topped the squash with breadcrumbs and grated pecorino and baked a bit more until the squash was very soft and the topping well toasted.

I happened to have three slices of cooked bacon, so I chopped these and sauted them with one chopped shallot. Then I added about two cups of (rinsed) French green lentils and added chicken broth to cover. I simmered the lentils for about 20 minutes, and then added salt to taste. When I served it I added some chunks of smoked mozzarella, which went especially well with the bacon. All in all it was a most satisfying meal.

Did you know you can make breadcrumbs by grating toast? I discovered this today.

I had also baked a delicata squash along with the spaghetti in hopes of making a toddler snack (it's a cylindrical squash, so you can scoop the innards out and make little rings). I baked the delicata so long it became too mushy for the rings. Instead I added it to the leftover lentils for lunch tomorrow. I don't think I'd ever cooked a delicata -- wow, it's so yummy! Very sweet. I'll have to cook some more very soon.

Since the oven was on I also baked some oatmeal raisin cookie dough I had leftover from the weekend. This was the perfect dessert for my autumn squash dinner. And because the dough had chilled in pre-made balls they came out crisp and chewy. I based this recipe on The New McCall's Cook Book (so old the front pages are missing and I can't even find the copyright date---but from the looks of it I'm guessing 70's). I doubled the salt, added the spices, substituted butter for their shortening, and doubled the raisins. I love salty cookies so much, in fact, that I used salted butter instead of unsalted, which is the proper butter to use for baking.

Oatmeal-Raisin Cookies

1 1/2 cups flour
1 t baking soda
2 t salt
1 T ground cardamom
1 T ground cinnamon
1 c softened butter
1 cup granulated sugar
1 cup brown sugar
2 eggs
1 t vanilla
3 cups raw oats
2 cups raisins

Preheat the oven to 375. Sift together the flour, baking soda, salt, and spices. In a large bowl, cream the butter, sugar, eggs, and vanilla until smooth. Add dry ingredients and mix well. Finally, add oats and raisins. With hands, form into tablespoon-sized balls and place one dozen per cookie sheet. Bake for 12 minutes for chewy cookies, 14 minutes for crunchy.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Glad to know I'm not the only person who loves salty cookies! And salty other sweet treats--I recently made the Pecan Sticky Buns from Baking with Julia (a three-day recipe), and its only flaws were that the pecans weren't roasty-toasty and the caramel wasn't salty enough. Next time I'll toast the pecans first, and use salted butter for all the non-dough elements (the recipe, for two 9-inch pans, uses an incredible 5 sticks of butter in all).

My favorite squash is butternut, with delicata a close second. I went wild with squash recipes last year--let me know if you want me to e-mail you the recipes for Butternut Squash Soup (adapted from Cooks' Illustrated), Squash Bacon Chestnut and Sage Risotto (Jamie Oliver), or Moroccan Couscous. I also have a great recipe for Squash Blossom Risotto, but it's getting a bit late for that.