Have you ever heard of spaghetti squash? I had not until I read about it on Shanna’s wonderful blog. Coincidence or not, this autumn for the first time I saw spaghetti squash in markets here. The name may sound strange, but when you look at the texture of the cooked squash it is clear where the name comes from. After buying my first spaghetti squash, I had to figure out what to do with it.
When I saw some clams for sale, I knew right away that a play on spaghetti alle vongole would be fun. Now don’t get me wrong, this is no substitute for the real spaghetti alle vongole, in which the al dente spaghetti is a vital part. But it is a fun dish and it looks great. I added some pancetta to the classic ingredients of chilli flakes, parsley, garlic, olive oil, and white wine. (Bacon would work, too.) The result was nice, the flavors worked well together with the slightly sweet notes of squash, clams, and pancetta as the connecting factor. And this is of course nice if you are on a diet as spaghetti squash has fewer calories than actual spaghetti. Here’s what I did…
For 2 servings as a main course
1 spaghetti squash
1 kg (2.2 lbs) of clams (I used almond clams)
100 grams (3.5 oz) pancetta, diced
3 Tbsp extra virgin olive oil, divided
1 Tbsp minced fresh flat leaf parsley
1 clove garlic
1/2 tsp chilli flakes, or to taste
80 ml (1/3 cup) dry white wine
Preheat the oven to 200C/400F. Cut the squash in halves lengthwise and scoop out the seeds. Be careful when cutting the squash, as the skin is quite sturdy.
Bake the squash on a baking sheet with some water for 45 to 60 minutes at 200C/400F, or until the squash is tender (you can check with a fork).
In the meantime, fry 100 grams of pancetta in a tablespoon of olive oil…
…until the pancetta is golden and crispy on the outside (but not crisped up all the way through), then add a minced garlic clove…
…stir, and add chilli flakes to taste.
Now add 1 kg of clams…
…and 80 ml of dry white wine.
Cover and cook over high heat…
…until the clams open, then turn off the heat. Do not overcook the clams, as that would make the tough and rubbery.
When the squash is tender, scoop out the flesh with a fork.
Divide the squash ‘spaghetti’ on two preheated plates.
Serve at once with the clams as well as the bacon and juices from the pan, and garnish with minced parsley. Drizzle each plate with a tablespoon of the best extra virgin olive oil you can afford.
(You could toss the squash in the pan with the juices if you like.)
We had a Torbato from Sardegna with this dish. It is likely you have never heard of this grape variety, because I had not either. There is only a little of it left on Sardegna and in the south of France (where it is called tourbat).
Sella & Mosca, Terre Bianche Cuvée 161, Alghero Torbato DOC 2015, retails in Italy for 10 euros
- 100% torbato from limestone soil near Alghero, low temperature skin contact to extract the varieties aromas, aged on the lees and a small portion fermented in barriques
- Color: straw yellow
- Nose: ripe apples and pears
- Taste: smooth and full-bodied with a slightly bitter finish
- Conclusion: very good, ****
The combination worked well, as the wine could handle the complexity and flavor intensity of the dish, ****.
This beet, fennel, and ginger sorbet is great as (part of) an original dessert, or as a palate cleanser for your christmas dinner (if you use less sugar). Of course you’ll have to think of a better presentation than what I did in the photo above, like serving it in a martini glass and garnished with fennel fronds.