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New Discoveries– Lemon Thyme Flavored Spaghetti Squash with Green Olives

December 9, 2011


“I feel a recipe is only a theme, which an intelligent cook can play each time with a
variation.”  Madame Benoit


Around this time of the year, our love for squashes grows increasingly.  And mine does too.  I love their oddball shapes, different textures, and sweet flesh.  I always find myself admiring them in grocery stores.  And since coming to the States, I have discovered some more oddballs to love.  What can I say?  They intrigue me.

Living in India, I enjoyed an assortment of squashes–summer and winter squashes.  I particularly liked the pale green opo squash with a rounded bottom and slender body.  It became my favorite go-to squash.  The easiest way to make it was to peel it, cut it in chunks, and cook it in a pressure cooker with oil, onions, tomatoes, ginger, and spices.  Add a little water, and in twenty minutes the flesh would be cooked perfectly, steeped in tomato gravy.  Ladled over freshly made basmati rice, and I would have a delicious meal ready in minutes.  Simple, humble, and aromatic–I always relished it.

Here in the States, I was introduced to a few more squashes.  But my most amusing discovery was spaghetti squash, the one harboring thin strands of pasta inside when cooked.  I had not eaten or heard of it before.  Well, there is a first time for everything.  And that was my introduction to the whimsical spaghetti squash.  I am glad I found it.  It was a delicious discovery!

 

Being mild in taste, spaghetti squash absorbs the flavors easily that it’s cooked in.  This squash can be steamed, baked, or slow cooked.  Eat it in pastas or on its own.  Cold squash can be tossed in vinaigrette and enjoyed as a salad on a warm day.  Made any way it’s wonderfully light.

Today, I am making a very simple recipe with this squash.  Bake it in the oven, and scoop out the flesh with a fork.  But, wait, it’s in scooping out of the flesh, that you’ll notice the beautiful strands of spaghetti that it produces.  Combine it with lemon thyme and just a couple more basic ingredients.  And a flavorful dish is ready to savor.

Lemon Thyme: A Zesty Perk

Lemon thyme is a wonderful petite-leaf herb that looks like the regular thyme.  But when these leaves are crushed, they impart a lovely lemony scent.  So refreshing!  It is great for dishes that ask for thyme and lemon because it has both flavors packed into one.

I find this aromatic herb a perfect match for sauces, soups, and breads.  It gives a true zesty perk to vegetables as well.  Also, it is a very important component of the classic Bouquet Garni

I love to make herbal tea with this lemony herb.  Add a little honey, and you have a warm cup of comfort to soothe your throat and your senses.  My favorite way of using it is in pasta with garlic, extra virgin olive oil, and a generous helping of freshly torn lemon thyme.  Parmesan cheese makes it even better!

Recipe

2.5 lbs spaghetti squash, cut in half lengthwise
3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
3 large cloves of garlic, minced (or to your taste)
2 tablespoons of lemon thyme leaves, divided plus a little for garnish
pinch of chilli flakes (optional)
salt and pepper to taste
5-6 large green olives with pimentos, chopped plus a little for garnish
2 tablespoons parsley, chopped

 

Heat oven at 400 F.  Place squash cut side down on a greased sheet pan.  Bake for 35-40 minutes or until done.  Let cool a little.  In a bowl, scoop out the flesh with a fork.

Heat olive oil in a medium fry pan.  Add garlic and stir for a few seconds.  Mix in 1 tablespoon of lemon thyme, pinch of red chilli flakes (if using).  Add the squash, salt and pepper to taste, and toss gently, taking care not to break the strands of the squash.

Stir in the remaining lemon thyme, olives and parsley.  Serve in a bowl.

Garnish with more lemon thyme and olives on top.

Enjoy!

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