Thyme and sage roasted spaghetti squash – and a cautionary tale

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SpaghettiSquashTitle Human beings are, as a rule, obsessed with youth and remaining young.  You only have to glance through your local newspaper to see the advertisements for botox (for the stunned as opposed to stunning look!); cosmetic surgery; or lotions and potions "guaranteed" to make you look younger within hours. It seems as if we can't help ourselves – however much we extoll the virtues that come with age and experience, some small part of us still wants to be twenty years old.

Some people achieve this illusion by the aforementioned surgery or injections.  Others (guys, this means you!) go for the little blue pills that are advertised so aggressively that my e-mail inbox cup runneth over on a daily basis. Some buy flashy red cars with no roof and hope they look younger behind the wheel than they do in the mirror.  And yet others date people who are too young to even rememebr who the heck Duran Duran were. 

Me, I don't go for any of those – I have my own personal take on how to stay young.  Drink lots of water, get 8 hours of sleep per night, get 5 or more portions of fruit and vegetables a day, and hit the gym three or four times a week.  Becuse youth, like true beauty, comes from within.

:)

OK, hands up – who fell for that?  Anybody?  Anybody??

I did try to type that with a straight face and MAN it was hard!

And I'm afraid that I will have to disillusion those who trusted me on that advice: my personal recipe for feeling like you are twenty for the rest of your life is a little different.  Basically it goes like this:  believe nobody – rather try it for yourself and see.  I mean, come on, surely you remember your parents telling you at university "that boy/girl is unsuitable – it's all going to end in tears".  Did anybody actually say "oh, OK, you know best – I'll dump them immediately"?  I know I didn't.  Of course I HATED it when my parents were right and it did all end in tears, but at least I had the satisfaction that I'd found this out for myself, empirically.

To me, that's what feeling 20 years old is all about.

Until recently, I had never cooked spaghetti squash.  I don't recall it ever being available in the shops in South Africa and even if it was, I probably shunned it for my beloved butternut and gem squashes.  In London, I see it on the shelves quite regularly,so when Kalyn wrote about it I decided it was high time to give it a go. Now Kalyn does state in her recipe that spaghetti squashes have hard outer rinds unless picked very young, and in that case they can't be eaten whole.  Judging by its size, I would not say ours was partcularly youthful when it arrived, plus it spent another week or so on our kitchen counter. And yet, when the time came to cook it, I decided that I was in a hurry and in no mood to peel it, so why bother?  I mean, I do a butternut squash bake where I don't peel the butternut, so how different can this be? 

Grown-ups – what do they know?!

Umm. Quite a bit, it would appear.  The squash roasted for probably the better part of an hour and caramelised beautifully, speckled yellow skin and all.  But although the flesh was soft and delicious (reminiscent of gem squash), infused with the flavour of the herbs, the skin had an appalling texture. I'm trying to think of what to compare it to and coming up short of a description.  Maybe some sort of plastic packaging accidentally left in your mince when making cottage pie??  Shudder.  Not good. 

Did I feel 20?  Yes.  Did I feel stupid?  Yes.  Sorry Kalyn – next time I'll listen to you!!

I told you all about thyme last week, so let's chat a bit about sage instead.  Sage (Salvia Officinalis) is a member of the mint family and originated in the Mediterranean region.    There are about 500 known varietes and its aromatic flavour is described as a mix of rosemary, pine, mint and citrus.  It contains generous amounts of Vitamins A and C and (unlike more delicate herbs) can be added to foods at the start of the cooking process as its robust flavour will withstand cooking.  But it was not until the 17th century that people started to cook with sage.  For most of its history, it has been known as a healing herb, being prescribed for all sorts of reasons, including to relieve intestinal problems, an aphrodisiac, tooth whitening and brain stimulation.  In fact – maybe the secret to eternal youth is sage!!

THYME AND SAGE ROASTED SPAGHETTI SQUASH (serves 2-3)

Ingredients:

1 large spaghetti squash, PEELED!
Olive oil
1 Tsp dried sage
1 Tsp dried thyme
Maldon salt flakes to serve

Method:

Pre-heat the oven to 190C.  Peel and halve the squash.  Remove the seeds and slice the flesh into crescents about 3cm long and 1.5cm wide.

Toss the squash pieces in enough olive oil to coat and lay in a single layer on a baking sheet.  Sprinkle the herbs over the squash and bake for 45 mins or until soft.  Sprinkle with Maldon (or fleur de sel) salt flakes to serve.

Whb_2_yrs_2I am submitting this recipe to Gretchen of Canela y Comino who is this weekend's hostess with the mostest for Kalyn's weekly event Weekend Herb Blogging.  Do check her site for the roundup this week!

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  1. says

    Beautiful photo!
    I’ve seen some spaghetti squash at Waitrose, but haven’t bothered to try it yet. For some reason I fear the skin won’t be hard enough. The skin looks as thin as a courgette to me. To me that means the flesh would be soft too, like a soft gem squash, where the flesh is pale and thread-y and doesn’t taste nearly as good as the ones with skins as hard as rock with firm, dark yellow flesh. Hey, but that’s just me. :-)

  2. says

    Oh dear, I may have led you astray by my habit of eating the young, immature squash. But the ones you buy in the store always have a hard skin, at least around here they do. Love the sound of this with sage and thyme though. You can always just scrape the squash off the skin when it’s cook if it’s hard to peel!
    Some people here also cook spagetti squash in the microwave, cut in half skin on. Then when it’s done they scrape out the insides and eat like spaghetti. I haven’t done it but I’ve been meaning to.

  3. says

    i love spaghetti squash, but i’ve always fluffed out the innards so that it looks like real spaghetti. although it’s absolutely marvelous and fun like that, next time i’ll try your way. :)

  4. says

    When I cook spaghettit squash I fuff out the innards too. Its good stuff. Next time I will just roast it like you and leave intact.The skin I always discard. Its so thin and yes plasticy!

  5. says

    I love roasted squashes… but I have never tried spaghettis squash…. With skin or without, looks delicious!! :)
    I’m just making shopping list for tomorrow and I will make sure to include it. I hope my Mike will be able to find it on the market.
    As for staying young I agree with you 100%, water, sleep, and gym… I joined less than a month ago and I try 3-4 times a week as well, but yesterday I spent over 5 hours in the Zoo with my daughter so today I took day off… I’m still feeling it, especially that I had to lift her up all the time for her to see better. But it was great experience for her… she has fallen in love with gorillas… we came back with plush toy that look like one and she is not letting it out of her arms since then.
    Have a nice evening,
    Margot

  6. says

    Hehehe – I have laughed through this day – and now again! I did exactly that with spaghetti squash years ago!!! And oooo me goodness gracious me – did I howl!!!!
    If I think back on the tears needlessly spilt, the flops and the panics, I realise that they were so necessary in the grand scheme of things!!!
    It’s Monday night, feeling philosophical night ….
    Thanks for being my Monday perk-up sight!

  7. says

    Ms Jeanne,
    I haven’t tried a Spaghetti squash on this side of the Atlantic, but I think you just convinced me to give it a go. I love squash of all variety, at least I haven’t yet found one I don’t love, and roasting them is by far my most favourite way of cooking. It keeps all the flavours Right There.
    Beautiful photo, btw. I’ve really noticed a difference over the history of your site. Perhaps there’s more than justa writer in you, huh? Lovely work, Jeanne!

  8. says

    Most guys would be happy to be married to a woman who required them to take little blue pills, ;-) In the absence of which, I’m going to try your squash!

  9. says

    I didn’t know that spaghetti squashes were supposed to be peeled OR that the skin was meant to be eaten. On the rare occasion that we’ve had them (my husband isn’t wild about spaghetti squash) I’ve always cut them in half lengthwise, baked them til they were done and just pulled the “spaghetti” out with a fork then served the squash with tomato sauce.
    I must say I love the idea of it with just olive oil, thyme, sage and salt. We MUST try spaghetti squash again. Maybe this simple way will be convert my husband into liking it.
    (Even though I swore that I wouldn’t be obsessed with making sure I looked young forever, I’ve taken to walking around with my hands cupped under my chin so people won’t notice that my face is dropping. And I’m pretending that the increasing number of grey hairs are blond streaks.)

  10. says

    I came here yesterday, but had no time to comment, sorry! I love the look of this, but then again you have the ability to make anything look scrumptious!!!!

  11. says

    the “looking youn” bit reminded me of this quote by Gyneth Paltrow.
    “Beauty, to me, is about being comfortable in your own skin. That, or a kick-ass red lipstick.”

  12. Naomi says

    Oh no! Please promise me you will NEVER try to cook spaghetti squash like other squashes again! My mom did it that way once, it was awful. But the nicest way to do it is to steam it, leaving the rind on. Cut it in half lengthwise, put them “facedown” on a baking tray with water underneath and cover it with aluminium foil, and stick it in the oven (or steam it in a bamboo steamer if you have one!). Then you shred it away from the rind with a fork, and it comes away like spaghetti, hence the name. It’s really nice with a stroganoff-like sauce. The best ones are from my grandpa’s garden, but he’s in Canada, and I’m over here, so I guess I’ll have to grow some myself next year!

  13. says

    You are so right grown ups know nothing – the secret to successful business is only to employ teenagers in management – they know everything! Never seen spaghetti squash here.